The University of Oxford has been ranked as the seventh best university worldwide, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). In the table, which was published on Monday, Oxford gained three places from last year’s performance, scoring 58.9 out of a possible 100 points.
Harvard maintained the top spot, as it has done since the ARWU’s creation in 2003. Cambridge moved up to fourth for the first time since 2009, having previously been ranked fifth. Oxford and Cambridge are, once again, the only UK universities in the top ten, whilst 15 of the top 20 universities are American.
The AWRU is also known as the Shanghai Ranking as it is produced by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. It focuses on research quality, using six indicators which include the number of Nobel Laureate and Field Medallist staff and alumni as well the number of articles published in the journals Nature and Science. Although AWRU has been criticised for its focus on sciences over humanities, it is still one of the most highly esteemed university rankings across the world.
Methods of ranking universities can differ considerably, with the Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings earlier this year placing Oxford second and the California Institute of Technology first. Meanwhile, the QS World University Rankings, published by Quacquarelli Symonds, placed Cambridge second and Oxford sixth. Differences in ratings can be attributed to the different metrics used in each system. The THE chooses to focus to a greater extent on teaching, whilst QS has historically been criticised for reliance on reputation and peer review indicators.
2016 is the first year in which Chinese universities have appeared in the AWRU’s top 100. Tsinghua University was placed 58th and Peking University 71st. This is also the first year in which more than five Australian universities have been awarded top 100 places.