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The best American university is now only the second best in the world

Reuters/Paul Hackett
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

New year, new college rankings.

The UK’s Times Higher Education is out this week with its annual World University Rankings—considered one of the foremost authorities on college excellence, alongside the popular US World and News Report—and things are a little shaken up this time around.

While a US university has nabbed the number one spot every year since the rankings were launched in 2004, this year sees the Oxford topping the 980-school list, pushing Caltech into second. The British institution earned the honor by scoring the highest in metrics such as research impact, citations, global outreach, and teaching. (Unlike some other rankings systems, the Times Higher Education supplement doesn’t take acceptance rates, post-grad salaries, or test scores into account.)

Oxford soared to the top in part from its record £522.9 million ($679 million) research income in the 2014-15 academic year. The US still largely rules the rest of the top 10:

University of Oxford
California Institute of Technology
Stanford University
University of Cambridge
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Princeton University
Imperial College London
ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
University of California, Berkeley
University of Chicago

But slightly further down the list, things get interesting again.

Asian universities, flourishing from renewed funding, are slowly creeping up on their Western counterparts; Peking University in China (#29) is now more highly ranked than New York University (#32), and the National University of Singapore (#24) comes in ahead of the London School of Economics (#25). A total of 19 Asian schools are in the top 200, compared to 15 last year.

Rumors about Asia—and specifically China—becoming the ”next higher education superpower” may not be too far off.

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