Five Scottish universities ranked in world top 200

Universities of Edinburgh, Dundee, St Andrews and Glasgow Image copyright other

Five Scottish universities feature in a respected list of the world's top 200 higher education institutions.

However, all but one have slipped down the Times Higher Education world university rankings since last year.

Edinburgh and Glasgow universities fell several places to 27th and 88th respectively, while St Andrews dropped out of the top 100 all together.

Only the University of Dundee climbed the rankings, from 185th last academic year to 180th in 2016/17 .

The rankings are based on universities' record of teaching, research, "knowledge transfer" and international outlook.

This year's table is topped by a UK institution for the first time, with the University of Oxford knocking the California Institute of Technology into second place.

The University of Edinburgh remains Scotland's top higher education institution, according to the ranking.

But it rated the University of St Andrews in 110th place, well down on the 86th position it achieved last year.

University Ranking in 2015/16 Ranking in 2016/17
Edinburgh 24 27
Glasgow =76 88
St Andrews 86 110
Dundee =185 =180
Aberdeen 172 188

A spokeswoman for the Fife university said an increase in the number of participating institutions affected rankings across the board.

She added: "It is also a clear signal of the need for UK higher education institutions to raise their ambitions in order to compete internationally. This will be especially important post-Brexit.

"We are encouraged that St Andrews' score for international outlook has increased. This reflects an outward-looking approach which has gained us a reputation as Scotland's most international university.

"However, we will also be engaging with government to make sure St Andrews has the optimal operating environment to continue to rank among the best and build on its reputation for excellence. "

'Top-class research'

Meanwhile Professor Sir Pete Downes, the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Dundee, said he was "absolutely delighted" with its result.

He added: "When we were named within the top 200 last year I said that we were determined to build on this success so it is very pleasing to see that our progress continues thanks to the hard work of the whole university community.

"Our aim as a university is to transform lives, locally and globally, through our top-class research, innovative teaching and a student experience that is being increasingly recognised as the best in Scotland."

The Scottish government's minister for higher education, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said Scotland was punching above its weight.

"I welcome these figures which underline our strength in higher education and the value with which the Scottish approach is held globally," she said.

'Strong performance'

"Credit is due to the staff and students at all five universities for their hard work to achieve this.

"Scotland continues to punch above its weight, having more institutions per head of population in the top 200 than any other country except Luxembourg.

"This continued strong performance is against a backdrop of other European universities suffering in the rankings due to the ascent of Asian institutions."

A University of Aberdeen spokesman said: "In the increasingly competitive global education sector that we compete in, it is to be expected that our rankings will fluctuate. We were pleased to see an improvement in eight of the 13 areas of the ranking criteria, such as our international outlook, and overall we have maintained our position within the top 30 universities in the UK and remain well within the top 200 in the world.

"We remain committed to the first class research and teaching for which we are renowned and to offering a world leading student experience for our international student community."

Stirling, Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde, Napier, Glasgow Caledonian and Robert Gordon universities, as well as the University of the West of Scotland feature in a longer list of the world's top higher education institutions.

Times Higher Education said the 980 universities featured in the list represent the top 5% in the world.

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