Magazine article Times Higher Education

Policymakers in US and UK Told Not to 'Weaken' Strength in Fields

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Policymakers in US and UK Told Not to 'Weaken' Strength in Fields

Article excerpt

THE World University Rankings by subject: social sciences results. Ellie Bothwell writes

The triumph of the US and the UK in the Times Higher Education subject ranking for social sciences sends a "powerful warning" to policymakers to "tinker" with funding "at your peril".

That is the view of James Wilsdon, professor of science and democracy at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex and chair of the Campaign for Social Science, who said that the success of the countries in the ranking "won't continue without a focused concentration [on social sciences] by policy and by funding".

The US has 43 institutions in THE's top 100 list, including nine in the top 10, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in first place. The University of Oxford tops the UK's 17 institutions in fourth place, while King's College London makes its debut in the top 20 and the University of Edinburgh joins the top 30. Professor Wilsdon said that the results should be viewed alongside the drive from the US Congress to cut the proportion of investment in the social and behavioural sciences.

"If I was [looking at the ranking] as a US policymaker, I would take it as a powerful warning to think twice before I start to chip away at what's clearly a very strong US position," he said.

He added that the table also provides a timely reminder to the UK government ahead of its spending review on 25 November that although science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects "tend to still dominate a lot of the discussion about UK science", social sciences are "also a huge UK strength". …

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