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An American University Is No Longer the Best in the World

September 22, 2016, 4:05 PM UTC

When thinking of the “best” university in the world, does your mind automatically jump to an Ivy League like Harvard, Princeton, or Yale? If it does, think again. According to a new global list, The University of Oxford in England is now considered the world’s best university.

Oxford, a university dating back to 1096, took the No. 1 spot in the latest World University Rankings, knocking the California Institute of Technology, an incumbent of five years, to second place.

What’s more, this is also the first time a university from outside of the U.S. has taken the top spot in the list’s 13-year history, according to Times Higher Education, a London magazine that releases the list.

Oxford’s success can be attributed to its improved performance in teaching, research, citations, and international outlook—the four indicators that underly the methodology of the rankings, according to the Times Higher Education.

But more specifically, Oxford’s No.1 spot comes from its strong research income, which the university secured at a record £522.9 million, or $679 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s research was also considered more influential, and it has been more successful at “drawing in international talent,” notes the Times Higher Education.


The remaining top contenders stayed the same as last year, with Stanford University coming in third, the University of Cambridge (another centuries-old institution in the U.K.) in fourth, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology came in fifth. MIT was just ahead of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Mass., which was the top Ivy League school on the list.

Some schools in Asia also stood out in this year’s list, namely China’s Peking University and Tsinghua University, both of which made moves into the top 30 and 40, respectively. Asia’s leading institution, the National University of Singapore, is No. 24, which is its highest ever rank.

Overall, U.S. schools still dominated the list accounting for about one-third of the top 200 schools, which is the same as last year, the Journal reports.