Harvard Named Best University

Harvard was named the best university in the world for the second year running by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) in rankings released last week.

The British publication’s rankings placed American institutions in 12 of the top 20 slots. MIT came in second ahead of Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Stanford University. All those universities were ranked higher this year than last, when THES first issued its rankings.

University of California, Berkeley, ranked second last year, fell four spots to number six in this year’s edition.

The rankings were based on a several criteria including reviews by peer institutions and recruiters, and the percentage of international students and faculty at the institution. Two hundred universities worldwide were ranked by THES.

Yale and Princeton, ranked seventh and ninth respectively, were the only other Ivy League institutions to crack the top 10, which also included Cal Tech and France’s Ecole Polytechnique.

Duke University rose from 52nd last year to tie the London School of Economics at number eleven this year.

Martin J. Ince, a contributing editor at THES and the coordinator of the rankings, said that does not foresee Harvard’s dominance of the list coming to an end any time soon.

“Harvard came in this year by a bigger margin than in 2004, and it would take something very usual to move it from that position,” he said. “I can’t really see it happening.”

Harvard also took top honors in separate rankings of programs in the humanities and arts, social sciences, and biomedicine. However, it was ranked only 21st among top technology universities.

Harvard also received a perfect score from peer institutions. That score accounted for 40 percent of the overall rankings.

“The peer review category shows how well-regarded Harvard is by other institutions of higher education,” Ince said. He said that last year, the peer review ranking counted for 50 percent of the overall score, but that this year a recruiter review category, worth 10 percent, was introduced.

Ince stressed the importance of the recruiter score, which measures how employers view graduates of a specific university.

“Some institutions, such as the London School of Economics, are exceptionally popular with employers and multinationals around the world.” Harvard also received a perfect score in recruiter review.

Director of Admissions at Harvard College Marlyn McGrath Lewis ’71-’73 said the rankings leave little room for dispute over the United States’ stronghold on university education. “[THES] gives a great vote of confidence to American higher education,” she said, though she added that “it would be a mistake not to recognize other universities abroad. The rising tide of education around the world has lifted many boats.”

Ince attributed America’s strong presence to it healthy economy and national emphasis on education. He also cited alumni networks at U.S. schools as a major factor.

“Harvard already enjoys very good name recognition,” Lewis said. “[But] we always appreciate being recognized for our excellence. Harvard works to provide great research and teaching for its students. You’re aware of the limitations of numerical rankings but nevertheless happy to be recognized.”