An Expert List Of The World’s Best Universities

The University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, takes the No. 1 spot for the third year running on a ranking of the world’s best universities released today by Times Higher Education (THE), a UK-based publication that tracks the higher ed market. The University of Cambridge is No. 2 and Stanford is No. 3.Unlike  top colleges ranking, which only measures U.S. schools, THE casts its net around the globe. The list emphasizes scholarship, research funding and reputation and does not consider things like entry requirements, graduation rates, professor ratings or alumni salaries. We think THE’s list is worth covering because it’s become one of the most respected international university rankings, cited in higher ed legislation in countries like Russia and India, which hope to boost their institutions’ stature.

“We cover the areas that matter most to policy development,” say THE editorial director Phil Baty. “We look at research excellence and the reputation in the global community, and what universities do for society and the economy.”

THE gives a lot of weight to universities’ efficacy as graduate institutions, weighing things like the number of doctorates awarded and the extent to which top scholars teach and mentor undergraduates. THE considers only universities and not colleges. For THE’s complete methodology, click here.

Oxford takes the No. 1 spot because it is strong across every area THE measures. Its total research funding from industry and government in 2016-17 came to $743 million, according to Oxford spokesman Stephen Rouse. The school’s many industry collaborations include research supported by BAE Systems and Nissan that led to the 2014 creation of an Oxford spin-out company, Oxbotica, which develops autonomous vehicle software.


Last year, private equity firm Kingsley Capital Partners made a $12.36 million initial investment in a new biopharmaceutical firm, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies that is working with Oxford faculty to develop new cannabis-based treatments for pain, cancer and inflammatory diseases. And Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk is making an expected $158 million investment over 10 years to fund type 2 diabetes research at Oxford.