Harvard Tops MIT for a Second Year in University Rankings

Harvard University again topped a list of universities in terms of global prestige, while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge held onto the second and third place.

Stanford University leapfrogged the University of California, Berkeley to take fourth place while the latter dropped to fifth on the list of 2012 World Reputation Rankings, published by the London-based Times Higher Education magazine. Oxford University again came in sixth.

In its second year, the magazine’s ranking gauged the world’s universities on academic reputation only, based on about 17,554 responses spanning 137 countries. Most of those surveyed were academics themselves, who were asked to rank the quality of teaching and the global impact of research. Among the findings was the widening gap between the top six “global super elite” and all the others, according to Phil Baty, editor of the rankings.

“It seems as if the entire world sees these six institutions as head and shoulders above everyone else, and that is strange,” Baty said in an interview. “There’s something about their brands that is extremely powerful on a global level. Reputation is an extremely nebulous concept but also a powerful one in terms of winning respect in the real world.”

Institutions from China, Taiwan and Singapore moved up, signaling the start of a power shift from West to East. China’s Tsinghua University (TSHUNZ) rose five spots to 30th place while Peking University climbed to 38th from 43rd. The University of Hong Kong moved up three places to 39th and the National University of Singapore climbed to 23rd from 27th. National Taiwan University jumped to the 61-70 band from the 81-90 band.

“We have seen a noticeable trend that every leading Asian institution has risen,” Baty said. “There’s a significant trend of decline in bits of the West and exciting improvement in key parts of Asia.”

The rankings are based on an opinion poll carried out by Ipsos for Times Higher Education’s rankings data supplier, Thomson Reuters.

Top 40 World Reputation Rankings 2012:

Institution                               Country
1. Harvard University                        U.S.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology     U.S.
3. University of Cambridge                   U.K.
4. Stanford University                       U.S.
5. University of California, Berkeley        U.S.
6. University of Oxford                      U.K.
7. Princeton University                      U.S.
8. University of Tokyo                       Japan
9. University of California, Los Angeles     U.S.
10. Yale University                          U.S.
11. California Institute of Technology       U.S.
12. University of Michigan                   U.S.
13. Imperial College London                  U.K.
14. University of Chicago                    U.S.
15. Columbia University                      U.S.
16. Cornell University                       U.S.
16. University of Toronto                    Canada
18. Johns Hopkins                            U.S.
19. University of Pennsylvania               U.S.
20. Kyoto University                         Japan
21. University College London                U.K.
22. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology    Switzerland
23. University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign U.S.
23. National University of Singapore         Singapore
25. University of British Columbia           Canada
25. McGill University                        Canada
27. University of Wisconsin-Madison          U.S.
28. University of Washington                 U.S.
29. London School of Economics               U.K.
30. Tsinghua University                      China
31. University of California, San Francisco  U.S.
32. University of Texas, Austin              U.S.
33. Duke University                          U.S.
34. New York University                      U.S.
35. Northwestern University                  U.S.
36. University of California, San Diego      U.S.
37. Carnegie Mellon                          U.S.
38. Peking University                        China
39. The University of Hong Kong              Hong Kong
39. University of Massachusetts              U.S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Trista Kelley in London at tkelley2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net; Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.