In what may be a sign of the growth of science and technology in international education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrestled the top spot in the new U.S. News World's Best Universities rankings away from University of Cambridge, which was No. 1 for the past two years.
MIT, which tied for sixth place among National Universities in the recent U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, had ranked No. 3 in the previous World's Best rankings. The new 2012 data are based on the QS World University Rankings, developed by QS Quacquarelli Symonds. Harvard University dropped from second in the 2011 rankings to third place, and Cambridge assumed the second spot on the new list.
A global education network headquartered in London, QS used six indicators to rank the top 400 universities worldwide: academic reputation, faculty-student ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, proportion of international faculty, and percentage of international students.
[Explore the 2012 World's Best Universities rankings.]
The gap between the overall scores of MIT and Cambridge was even narrower than the 0.7 point advantage that Cambridge posted over Harvard last year. In 2012, MIT scored 100 points overall, which was 0.2 points better than Cambridge's overall score.
Both schools scored 100 points in the categories of academic and employer reputations, but MIT beat out its competitor in the United Kingdom in faculty citations and faculty-student ratio. Cambridge posted better scores than MIT in its proportion of international faculty and students.
Harvard, meanwhile, scored 99.2 points overall, and had a score of 100 in three categories: academic and employer reputations, as well as faculty citations. But it scored 78.4 points in its international students score, nearly 20 points below both MIT and Cambridge.
The proportion of American schools in the top 10 overall remained constant at 60 percent. Yale University, University of Chicago, Princeton University, and California Institute of Technology ranked at Nos. 7, 8, 9, and 10, respectively, and U.S. schools made up 83 of the top 400 universities.
Four of the top 10 spots went to U.K. institutions, and five of the eight Swiss universities that ranked in the top 400 improved significantly this year. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) scored the highest of a non-North American or non-British university at No. 13, and University of Hong Kong (HKU) was the highest-ranked Asian school at No. 23.
With seven schools in the top 100, Australia had the most schools at the top after the United States and United Kingdom. China has seven top-200 institutions, while no Indian school made the top 200.
The World's Best Universities rankings also include regional rankings of the top schools in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. In the top 100 Asian universities, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) maintained its top position, and National University of Singapore (NUS) rose from No. 3 in 2011 to No. 2. HKU dropped from second place in 2011 to third.
Although five Japanese schools made the top 10 Asian universities rankings in 2011, just two reached that high in 2012, along with three schools each from Hong Kong and South Korea, one school from Singapore (NUS), and another from mainland China.
In the top 100 Latin American universities rankings, Universidade de São Paulo, in Brazil, maintained the No. 1 spot, as did all the other schools ranked No. 2 through No. 7. The gap between the top two schools was very small; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, which scored 99.9 points, was just 0.1 points below Universidade de São Paulo.