World rankings: top 10 universities around the globe

Britain’s leading higher education publication, The Times Higher Education, Thursday released its 2012 reputation rankings for universities worldwide.

Only three countries are represented in the top 10 – Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States – with Canada, Switzerland, Singapore, and China landing institutions in the top 30.  Hong Kong, Germany, and Australia squeezed into the top 50, and India once again fared poorly in the rankings, not even registering in the top 100.

Nearly 31,000 academics from 149 countries have contributed to the Academic Reputation Survey since it was launched in 2010. To build the rankings, senior academics from a range of disciplines weigh in on which universities they see as the strongest in teaching and research in their respective fields.

The rankings are no doubt subjective, relying on the perspectives of career academics on a predetermined list of 6,000 universities, but Times notes that in an increasingly globalized education market, “esteem does matter,” helping institutions retain top talent and giving the degrees of alumni more weight.

Here are the top 10:

Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Students, parents, young professionals, and teachers walk through Harvard Yard at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., in May 2008.

How to interpret reputation rankings:

According to The Times Higher Education website, the reputation rankings are based on the number of times a university is noted by respondents as being “the best” in its field of expertise, both for research and teaching. Each survey respondent could nominate up to 15 academic institutions and the two scores were weighed at a 2:1 ratio, giving more weight to research.
Of the respondents, 44 percent hailed from the Americas, 28 percent were based in Europe, and 25 percent were from the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions.
Spoiler alert: Harvard was selected the most often, ranking it as the most highly reputed university in the world.  The rest of the institutions were ranked in relation to Harvard, so a school that received a 70 percent ranking in teaching reputation, received 70 percent of the number of nominations Harvard received.

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