The UK has the highest number of universities in the Worlds Top-500 universities


An assessment carried out by All About Uni found that Scotland has the highest density of the World’s Top-500 universities in the United Kingdom. All About Uni is an independent, global and interactive website where visitors can obtain information about universities (global rankings, student reviews, university news and campus pictures).

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is produced by the Institute of Higher Education at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Several indicators of academic or research performance are used to establish the ranking, these include highly cited researchers, articles indexed in major citation indices and staff winning Nobel Prizes.

The Worlds Top-500 universities (2008) are mainly located in Europe (n=210; 40%), the Americas (n=190; 40%) and the Asian/Pacific region (n=100; 20%). There are 42 (8%) universities located in the United Kingdom (UK), representing 20% of the universities in Europe.

The top-10 universities in the UK are: University of Cambridge (ranked 4th in the world), the University of Oxford (10th), University College London (22nd), Imperial College London (27th), The University of Manchester (40th), University of Edinburgh (55th), University of Bristol (61st), University of Sheffield (77th), Kings College London (81st) and University of Nottingham (82nd).

The UK has the highest number of universities in the Worlds Top-500 universities (42) compared to the other European countries: Germany (40), France (23), Italy (22), the Netherlands (12), Sweden (11) and Spain (9). In the ranking of Europe’s Top-10 universities, five are located in the UK and in the Top-25 universities, 9 are located in the United Kingdom.

The UK universities are located in following regions: England (34), Scotland (5), Wales (2) and Northern Ireland (1). An interesting difference is that universities in Scotland are much older than in the other three regions: the median age of the Scottish universities is 513 years (range 127-598) compared to 101 years (range 39-912) in England and 107 years (range 88-125) in Wales.

In order to make a comparison with other industrialized countries, All About Uni calculates the number of universities in the Worlds Top-500 (2008) per one million inhabitants. The overall number of universities per million inhabitants in industrialised countries is 0.5. An earlier assessment found that small countries in Western Europe (Sweden (1.2), Finland (1.1) and Switzerland (1.0)) and New Zealand (1.2) have the highest number of universities per million inhabitants.

The number of universities in the Worlds Top-500 universities that are located in the UK is 0.7 per million inhabitants, which compares favourably with other large industrialized countries: Canada (0.6), Germany (0.5), United States (0.5), France (0.4), Italy (0.4) and Japan (0.2). For the four regions of the United Kingdom, the numbers are as follows: Scotland (1.0), England (0.7), Wales (0.7) and Northern Ireland (0.6).

Within the UK, Scotland has a much higher density of top universities compared to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland also performs very well compared to other industrialised countries and the number of Scottish universities per million inhabitants is one of the highest in the world.