Ever since its founding in 1895, the London School of Economics and Political Science (or simply LSE) has been one of the big names of British higher education. In fact, the school's influence has gone far beyond the borders of the United Kingdom, and the LSE has established itself as perhaps the top institution for the study of the social sciences anywhere in the world. Only a handful of institutions can compare when it comes to the study of anthropology, economics, international relations, law, management, philosophy of science, political science, and sociology, among others. For its many accomplishments in these fields, the LSE is often compared to such fine schools as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Chicago.
It is certainly true that among LSE's students and faculty have been many notable individuals, including around 30 heads of state and 14 Nobel Prize winners. From academia, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Karl Popper, Harold Laski, Friedrich von Hayek, Michael Oakeshott, Imre Lakatos, and many other important thinkers have taught at the school. In the field of economics, in particular, some of the most important contributions to our understanding of the subject were made by theorists based at the LSE. In addition, many high-profile political figures (including over 40 of the current members of the House of Lords) both from the UK and abroad have been associated with the school, such as former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller. The list of notable faculty and alumni is indeed long.
But the London School of Economics does not rely on past glories, and it continues to strive for the highest standards of excellence. Indeed, various publications, taking into consideration the quality of teaching and research, among other factors, have placed LSE very high in their university rankings. In terms of research quality, the LSE has scored second in England, behind only Cambridge, its most prominent rival in the study of economics (as the famed Keynes-Hayek debates still shape the two major schools of economic thought today, as nations still debate the merits of the welfare state versus an economy solely controlled by the market). As it regards rankings of social science institutions, the LSE has scored second in the world, this time behind only Harvard. And to its high standards of both teaching and research have contributed not only its faculty but also its students, which, coming from over 150 countries, make the school easily the most international in the world.
An LSE education offers many advantages, including almost unrivaled access to academics and academic resources (i. e. the British Library of Political and Economic Science). The possibilities to create networks with high-caliber students as well as attend public lectures given by the likes of Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and many others are also present. The school's location in the very center of London and its links to government and the business make it especially attractive to students as well. But the ones, lucky enough to have been admitted (as for many courses the acceptance rate is below 10 per cent) and who have managed to complete a degree there, often discover the total value of an LSE education after they have left the school. It indeed serves many of them well, throughout their careers and lives, as the school's alumni continue to have a large impact on the field of economics and beyond.