The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2017 rank the universities that academics believe excel in teaching and research.
A questionnaire was sent to a selection of experienced published scholars, between January 2017 and March 2017, asking them to offer their views on the standards of teaching and research in their disciplines and in institutions that they are familiar with. The responses were then used to determine which universities were considered the most prestigious. The full methodology of the THE World Reputation Rankings can be found here.
Although the results are based on academics’ views, students can also incorporate the reputation of a university into their decision-making process when choosing where to study.
Indeed, Raphaelle Soffe, a British A-level student who is due to attend Harvard in September 2017, said that the “reputation of Harvard University did influence my choice to a certain degree”, adding that, “what distinguished it from other world-leading institutions was its focus on research, academic rigour and the creation of a community based on trust and respect.
“My intention to pursue a career in international relations also influenced my decision; Harvard provided the perfect political training ground, with presidents, United Nations secretary-generals and other leading politicians from around the world educated on Harvard’s campus,” she added.
Scroll down for more student perspectives on studying at some of the universities with the strongest reputations.
Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the US and was established in 1636. 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 produced 47 Nobel laureates, 32 heads of state and 48 Pulitzer prizewinners, among 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 are stored in the Pusey Library.
MIT is a university based in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated to the teaching of science and technology. The sheer number of Nobel laureates that the institution has generated (an impressive 85) 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.
Students discuss universities with strong reputations
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When Stanford University was founded in 1891, it was a co-educational institution, which was unheard of at a time when most universities were all-male affairs.
The research-intensive university has the largest number of Turing Award winners for a single institution (18) as well as 21 Nobel laureates and four Pulitzer prizewinners. In addition, Stanford University has produced 30 living billionaires and 17 current 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, the University of Cambridge can also count itself among the oldest universities in the world. 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 most well known is Wren Library, which is part of Trinity College, and holds A. A. Milne’s manuscript of Winnie the Pooh, one of Isaac Newton’s notebooks and some early editions of Shakespeare’s works.
Rounding off the top five is the University of Oxford. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world and has seen 30 world leaders, 26 British prime ministers, 26 Nobel prizewinners and more than 120 Olympic medalists pass 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 and Oscar Wilde.
Like the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford follows a collegiate structure and is split into 44 colleges and halls. Nearly one-quarter of the city’s population is made up of students, meaning that it has the youngest population of any city in England and Wales.