MIT beats Cambridge & Harvard 2012

Massachusetts Institute of Technology takes first place as US universities continue to dominate, but four of top six are British. 

Cambridge has lost its place as the number one ranking university in the world, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the US university that specialises in science and technology, taking over the top slot.

MIT came first, while Cambridge, which topped the list in 2011, came second and Harvard third in the QS World University Rankings, published on Tuesday.

The QS table is based on measures of research quality, graduate employability, teaching and how international the faculties and student bodies are.

University College London, Oxford, Imperial College, Yale, the University of Chicago, Princeton and Caltech, in that order, make up the top 10.

The highest ranked institution outside Europe and North America is the University of Hong Kong, at No 23.

MIT, which tops the list for the first time, came first in 11 out of 28 subject tables published by QS in June. A sharp increase in the proportion of foreign academics on its staff – a measure on which MIT has scored relatively poorly in the past – tipped the balance in its favour in the overall league table.

Harvard, which has regularly led the table in the past, remained the favourite of academics and employers in polling conducted by QS.

US universities continue to dominate the list, although four of the top six this year are British. American institutions make up 13 of the top 20 and 31 of the top 100 – the same as last year.

There is only one new entrant to the top 20 – the University of Toronto, at No 19.

Continental Europe performs poorly in the table. France has two entries – ENS Paris and the École Polytechnique, also in Paris – in the top 50, and two Swiss universities make the top 30, but there are no German universities in the top 50.

Universities in China, South Korea and Hong Kong are flourishing. Hong Kong has three universities in the top 100.

John O’Leary, a member of the QS global academic advisory board, said in a statement: “UK universities are improving the effectiveness of their research. All but three of the UK’s top 20 institutions achieved higher citation rates than last year, though they still trail the big US institutions like Harvard, Stanford and MIT.”

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