Oxford is best in the world for medicine, but London is best place to study

Doctor with child patient

The best university at which to study medicine is once again the University of Oxford, as announced in the Times Higher Education subject ranking released today.

It is notoriously hard to secure a place on Oxford’s medical degrees – only 12 per cent of all applicants in 2014 received a place on the prestigious course.

UK institutions dominate at the very top of the clinical ranking this year, with Oxford, the University of Cambridge and University College London taking three of the five top spots. Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeleycomplete the top five.

There is an even split between US and UK institutions in the top 10. Given that three top 10 universities are based in the UK capital, it is fair to say that London, as the best-represented city in the top 10, is the best place in the world to study medicine.

Richard Daniels, a junior doctor who studied at King’s College London, said: “The best things about London are that it is a massive multicultural city with socio-economic variety, so there is loads of good pathology you don’t see in other homogeneous (ie, white) populations, and it is also close to great resources including the British Medical Association, the Royal Society of Medicine, the royal colleges, the Wellcome Trust and research opportunities.”

However, proposed changes to the contracts of junior doctors in the UK have given rise to fears that, despite world-leading facilities and opportunities, prospective students will be deterred from taking clinical qualifications in London, or indeed elsewhere in the UK.

Outside the US and the UK, the best university for clinical and health degrees is the University of Toronto, in 11th place.

With six places in the top 100, Canada is the fourth best represented country in the clinical ranking, tied with Germany. The Netherlands is third with seven universities, still well behind the UK with 14 universities and the US with 35 top 100 institutions.

In mainland Europe, the best place for clinical and health studies is the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Sweden, in 13th position.

KI accounts for 40 per cent of all the medical research in Sweden and is in the process of investing in new, modernised facilities.

Tomas Lindahl, Nobel prizewinner for chemistry this year, made his award-winning discoveries on DNA repair while at the institute in the 1970s.

UC Berkeley is back in the top 10 after it dropped out in the 2013-14 ranking. The university does not have its own medical school, but runs a five-year joint medical programme with the University of California, San Francisco, and offers pre-clinical undergraduate training in specialised areas of chemistry and biology.

The clinical, pre-clinical and health subject ranking evaluates university teaching, research, innovation, impact and international outlook across medical, public health, dentistry and psychiatry subjects.

Find the complete ranking table here.

University Country Rank 2015-16
University of Oxford UK 1
Harvard University US 2
University of Cambridge UK 3
University College London UK 4
University of California, Berkeley US =5
Imperial College London UK =5
Stanford University US 7
King’s College London UK 8
Johns Hopkins University US 9
Columbia University US 10
University of Toronto Canada 11
University of Edinburgh UK 12
Karolinska Institute Sweden 13
Duke University US 14
University of California, Los Angeles US =15
University of Melbourne Australia =15
Yale University US 17
University of Pennsylvania US 18
Cornell University US 19
McGill University Canada 20

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