Oxford University has been ranked the best university of the world by Times Higher Education (THE) for the fifth year in a row. The university is the first institution to have done so under THE’s current methodology. Stanford University and Harvard University finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Cambridge University, the only other British university to make the top 10, finished in ­6th place, down from 3rd last year.

29 UK institutions made the top 200, the second highest of any country after the US. China doubled its presence in the top 100 from three to six and became home to the first Asian university to ever enter the top 20.

Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at the Times Higher Education, praised Oxford’s unprecedented performance, pointing to the University’s international outlook as a particular area of distinction.

He said: “The Times Higher Education World University Rankings deploy a comprehensive and balanced range of 13 separate performance indicators to cover world-class research universities’ core missions, across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

“Under the current decade-old methodology, no university has ever topped the THE World University Rankings for five consecutive annual editions.

“So this year’s rankings results are a testament not only to Oxford’s enduring reputation among leading scholars globally, but also to its ability to continually innovate, publishing cutting edge research with the highest global impact across a wide range of disciplines and providing a uniquely stimulating teaching environment.

“Oxford excels across all of our indicators, but its international outlook scores in particular stand out against world top-ten peers in the US. That commitment to international collaboration and partnership, should be cherished and protected.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Oxford University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: ‘‘We are delighted to have consolidated our position at the top of the THE World University Rankings this year. The international standing of British Higher Education is a testament to generations of investment in education as well as to our extraordinarily talented staff and students. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed such a threat to higher education around the world, has also demonstrated the critical role universities play in addressing global challenges.”

Oxford University’s ranking comes in a year of headlines for the university, with the Jenner Institute at the forefront of the search for a COVID-19 vaccine.