The 2021 QS World University Rankings have been announced, with the Royal College of Music in London ranking second in the world and the top institution for performing arts in both the UK and Europe. This is the sixth consecutive year the Royal College has been placed first in the UK and the second consecutive year it has ranked top in Europe.

The Royal College of Music came second only to the Juilliard School in New York.

The UK performed well overall in the rankings, with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland coming in just behind the Royal College of Music, followed by the Royal Academy of Music. The University of Oxford was in joint 12th position, tied with Harvard University, and Cambridge University just behind with Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

The rankings are based predominantly on the academic reputation of the university or conservatoire, also taking into account considerations such as how well students are prepared for the employment market and the ratio of faculty members to students. Also evaluated for the rankings is the amount of research undertaken by faculty members and the ratio of international faculty members and students – institutions with a higher international population will be scored more generously.

The top 50 in the 2021 QS World University Rankings is listed in full below:

  1. The Juilliard School
  2. Royal College of Music
  3. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  4. Royal Academy of Music
  5. Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse en Paris
  6. New York University
  7. Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien
  8. Norwegian Academy of Music
  9. Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki
  10. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
  11. University Mozarteum Salzburg
  12. Harvard University (tied with University of Oxford)
  13. University of Oxford (tied with Harvard University)
  14. University of Cambridge
  15. Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  16. University of Rochester
  17. Indiana University Bloomington
  18. Royal Holloway University of London
  19. The University of Melbourne
  20. Royal College of Music in Stockholm
  21. Yale University
  22. Columbia University
  23. The Royal Danish Academy of Music
  24. University of California, Berkeley (tied with University of California, Los Angeles)
  25. University of California, Los Angeles (tied with University of California, Berkeley)
  26. Curtis Institute of Music
  27. University of Huddersfield
  28. University of Southern California
  29. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  30. The University of Sydney
  31. Universität der Künste Berlin
  32. The Central Academy of Drama, China
  33. The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  34. Moscow State Conservatory P.I. Tchaikovsky
  35. Monash University
  36. Korea National University of Arts
  37. Stanford University
  38. Queen Mary University of London
  39. McGill University
  40. National University of Singapore
  41. Northwestern University
  42. Goldsmiths, University of London
  43. Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin
  44. Royal Northern College of Music
  45. UCSI University
  46. University of Toronto
  47. The University of Auckland
  48. Conservatoire de Musique de Genève
  49. The University of Warwick
  50. Griffith University


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.