The Most Prestigious Universities in the World

Times Higher Education's most recent ranking of the world's most prestigious universities shows that American universities continue to dominate in the academic arena. The organization looked at a variety of factors in deciding the list, while all of the chosen schools were found to produce high-quality, groundbreaking research, deliver innovative education and have strong relationships with their local and global communities, as noted by the World Economic Forum in a report published in collaboration with THE. (See also: The Best Undergraduate Business Programs for 2018.)

The World Reputation Rankings are based on an invitation-only opinion survey of senior, published academics who were asked to name a maximum of 15 universities that they believed were the best for research and teaching in their field.

Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University maintained their position at the top of the list. The U.K.'s University of Cambridge and University of Oxford followed in fourth and fifth. U.S. Ivy league universities Princeton and Yale landed spots on the top 10 at No. 7 and 8, respectively, while California state universities UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles came in at sixth and ninth, respectively. The University of Chicago rounded out the list at No. 10. 

The entire WEF report ranks 105 universities, dominated by 44 from the U.S. and nine from the U.K. China and Germany tied in third place for the most-represented nation, each with six universities. However, the two countries both saw half of their representatives fall in placement this year, raising concerns about Germany's Excellence Initiative, which has attempted to strengthen some universities more than others in order to increase their international visibility, and a deceleration in China's growth after years of consistent progress, as noted in the WEF report.

Beyond No. 10: A Competitive Marketplace

Singapore was one Asian nation to see improvement this year, with its flagship National University of Singapore rising three places to 24th and its younger Nanyang Technological University up from the 81-90 band in 2017 to the 51-60 bracket.  

The study reiterated the fact that while reputation is a subjective indicator, the ranking is still important as reputation remains a key motivating factor for students choosing an institution. Meanwhile, universities face a more pressure than ever in an increasingly competitive marketplace. 

"Increased media attention on value, worth, and outcomes; governmental oversight; families’ ability and willingness to pay; and institutional challenges related to financial stability and vitality, product offerings, and the physical plant, among other things, all bear down on institutions and keep their leaders up at night," added Carole Arwidson, the vice president and director of market research at The Lawlor Group, a higher education marketing firm. (See also: Is University Prestige Really That Important?)

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