The University of Oxford is the oldest institution of its kind in the English speaking world. This Oxford became the Best University in the World, according to Times Higher Education’s annual report, World University Ranking. Times Higher Education is a London-based magazine that deals with the topic of higher education.
Since Times Highest Education began making this list 13 years ago, the first place has always been occupied by an US university. And for the past five years, that number one spot was held by the California Institute of Technology.
Caltech might have went down a spot, but the other top five universities remained more or less in place. Stanford University came in just after Caltech, next came Cambridge, Oxford’s age-old rival. A MiT took the 5th place on the list. Next came Cambridge, MA, and then Harvard.
However, the list does feature some surprises. Specifically, it seems universities in Asia, particularly in China and Hong Kong have been stepping up their game, and immense improvements.
How Do They Determine Which Is The Best University?
According to Phil Baty, the ranking editor of the Times Higher Education, “The single biggest individual indicator is research impact”. To determine research impact, they look at how many citations a particular university has. They also look at the number of publications they have.
They also take into consideration the reputation of the institution, but to a lesser extent. Another important factor in determining the best university in the world was the amount of money they managed to attract for research.
Other similar lists take into consideration acceptance rates, test scores and the how much graduates earn after they finish school. The World University Ranking doesn’t check these metrics.
Oxford came out on top this year because it managed to raise a record shattering $679 million in research funds. It has also invested quite a lot in international collaborations.
Asian Universities Could Soon Be Top Contenders As Well
Unlike some prominent US lists, the WUR looks at universities all around the world. This year’s biggest, and most pleasant, surprises came from Asia. Asian universities have managed to make enormous leaps in the chart. Some have managed to top prestigious European and American academies.
China now has four institutions in the top 200 list. Their best university, Peking University came out on the 29th spot. The public school has around 30.000 students. It managed to beat New York University, which came out 32nd on the list.
During the past years, China has been working on a program to transition from an industry and manufacturing based economy to a knowledge based one. In the past 8 years, the country has invested the equivalent of around $33 billion in its universities, in order two develop its scholarly elite.
And their investment seems to be paying off. Tsinghua University in Beijing came out 35th, ahead of prestigious Ivy League Brown University. Brown came below the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
If they continue this trend, we could soon expect to see more Chinese universities in the top 100, and even higher up.
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