A study was conducted by the Times Higher Education, a British magazine, to determine the top world universities. According to the rankings, the top ten world universities include in alphabetical order: California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Imperial College London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and Yale University. Similarly, a study was also undertaken by Quacquarelli Symonds, a company that specializes in education, to find out what universities are at the precipice of quality in terms of higher education based on a number of criteria. Again, the previously enumerated universities ranked among the best around the world. Many other similar studies abound but their conclusions are notably similar to what the two previous studies have arrived at.
It is understandable why these top world universities are considered the best by many students and academics alike: their continued pursuit for superiority in overall quality of education knows no bounds despite economic adversities and public scrutiny. For example, Harvard University, known for its vast wealth and prestige, has lost approximately a quarter of its annual financial endowment. This is a significant development since an academic institution’s financial endowment allows it to stay afloat and operational. This is more so true for private institutions like Harvard as well as others like Princeton University and Yale University. On the other hand, public universities like the University of California Berkeley who receive their endowments through partial or full funding from the state or local governments have also suffered from massive budget cuts. Due to a decrease in politician and student support in recent years but have not wavered in their struggle to provide their students with the top-notch education.
A point of interest as to how these world universities have managed to stay ahead of their competition is how they concentrate and specialize on fields different from the rest. For example, the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology both focus on science and engineering education while other universities such as Princeton University, Yale University, and the University of Oxford boasts a wide array and depth of courses. Another point of interest is their focus on limiting the number of admissions they have each year. This led to an increase in the output of high-quality graduates such as many Nobel prize winners and world leaders among them. Take for example Yale University, which is known for having a record-low admission rate of 3 out of 40 possible applicants. Other universities in this list have the same policy albeit not as significantly low as that of Yale. Lastly, these world universities also take the ratio of students to overseeing academics very seriously, with some only having a ratio of 5:1, which allows the administration to properly educate their undergraduate and graduate students according to what is best for them and their chosen career in the future.
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While there are other criteria that these world universities rank best at such as prestige and reputation, without a doubt, these universities will continue to outshine the rest of their peers with their unending quest for excellence in higher education.