The University of Oxford is the top UK institution on the list and is tied for No. 2 for the second year in a row. Last year, it shared the honor with Stanford University. It's no surprise that an institution founded nine centuries ago as the first university in the English-speaking world is highly competitive: According to the university, Oxford receives, on average, more than five applications for each available place. The university's main library holds the papers of seven British Prime Ministers; a Gutenberg Bible; the earliest surviving book written wholly in English; and a quarter of the world’s original copies of the Magna Carta.
Harvard University, the oldest university in the United States, is on the rebound in the Times Higher Education ranking. It jumped from No. 4 last year to No. 2 this year. Harvard isn't lacking in accolades: Its $32 billion endowment is the largest of any university in the world, (and is bigger than the GDP of nearly half the world's countries), eight US presidents graduated from the university, and nearly 100 faculty or alumni are Nobel or Pulitzer Prize winners.