The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2021 rank the universities that academics believe excel in teaching and research.
A questionnaire was sent to a selection of experienced published scholars, between November 2020 and February 2021, asking them to offer their views on the standards of teaching and research in their disciplines and in institutions with which they are familiar. The responses were then used to determine which universities were considered the most prestigious. The full methodology for the THE World Reputation Rankings 2021 can be found here.
The top 10 is dominated by US universities, except for the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge which take third and fifth places respectively. Tsinghua University has moved up three places from last year to number 10 and is the only Asian university in the top 10.
Although the results are based on academics’ views, students can incorporate the reputation of a university into their decision-making process when choosing where to study.
Scroll down for more student perspectives on studying at some of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Established in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest higher education institution in the US. It is considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world and has topped the THE World Reputation Rankings since 2011.
The institution has been affiliated with 161 Nobel laureates, 32 heads of state, 50 Pulitzer prizewinners and many other academic accolades and prizes.
The central library is the one of the largest academic libraries in the world, with 18.9 million volumes, while America’s oldest collection of maps and atlases is stored in the Pusey Library.
MIT is based in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated to the teaching of science and technology. The sheer number of Nobel laureates affiliated with the institution – an impressive 95 – reveals the calibre of MIT graduates.
Scientific discoveries and technological advances to come out of the college include the first chemical synthesis of penicillin, the development of radar, the discovery of quarks and the invention of magnetic core memory, which aided the development of digital computers.
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The University of Oxford is the highest ranked UK university in this year’s reputation ranking. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world and at least 30 world leaders, 28 British prime ministers, 55 Nobel prizewinners and more than 120 Olympic medallists have passed through its halls.
Entry standards are high and prospective students are expected to achieve top grades and pass an interview in order to study at the institution.
Notable alumni include Stephen Hawking, J. R. R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde and Malala Yousafzai.
The University of Oxford follows a collegiate structure and is split into 44 colleges and halls. Nearly one-quarter of the city of Oxford’s population is made up of students, meaning that it has one of the youngest populations of any city in the UK.
Stanford University was founded in 1891 as a co-educational institution, which was unheard of at a time when most universities were all-male.
The research-intensive university has the largest number of Turing Award recipients for a single institution (28) as well as 34 Nobel laureates (19 among the current community of scholars) and four Pulitzer prizewinners. In addition, Stanford University has produced 74 billionaires and 17 astronauts.
Stanford faculty and alumni have also founded many companies including: Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Yahoo.
As well as being one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the University of Cambridge can also count itself among the oldest.
The university is split into 31 autonomous colleges. It is particularly known for its excellence in mathematics and a high number of Cambridge-affiliated mathematicians have won a Fields Medal, which is regarded as the Nobel Prize for mathematics.
The institution is home to more than 100 libraries. One of the best known is the Wren Library, which is part of Trinity College and holds A. A. Milne’s manuscript of Winnie the Pooh, an Isaac Newton notebook and early editions of Shakespeare’s works.
The top 50 most prestigious universities
Click each institution to view its World University Ranking 2022 profile
Times Higher Education reveals the top universities with the best reputations, as determined by academics around the world