Which university is the Best in the world?
The results are in, and the world’s elite higher education institutions have a new champion. The University of Oxford is the best university in the world, according to the results of the 2016-2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
It is the first time that a university from outside the United States has topped the table. It leapfrogs last year’s number one, the California Institute of Technology, and becomes the first new number one in six years. CalTech is number two. Before we look at what this means, here’s the top 10.
Remarkably, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, Louise Richardson, describes the practice of securing the number one spot as “really quite simple”. It’s all about recruiting the best scholars, she says, since “any university is only as good as the academics it can attract”.
And she's right – at least in part. Research performance and academic reputation form a huge part of what makes an institution successful.
But the Times Higher Education rankings are the most comprehensive global rankings going, drawing on 13 separate performance indicators and assessing institutions on their core missions – not only research, but also teaching, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
This allows universities that excel in measures such as staff-to-student ratio, international research collaboration, and income from industry to perform well in the rankings too, and the result is a global ranking that celebrates excellence in higher education across the world. This map shows the range of countries that have an institution in the table this year.
So what do these rankings tell us about the global academic landscape? Times Higher Education has been publishing rankings since 2004, and the 13 datasets published since then tell the story of higher education’s evolution.