Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


MIT leapfrogs Cambridge and Harvard as World’s Best University

11th September.

2012/13 QS World University Rankings

MIT leapfrogs Cambridge and Harvard as world’s best university, New Zealand’s AUT enters the table for the first time
Top 700 universities published Tuesday 11th September

Cambridge is once again home to the world’s number one university. Yet this year the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, not the UK’s second-placed Cambridge University, takes the crown for the first time.

Global top ten

20122011 Institution
1 3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
2 1 University of Cambridge
3 2 Harvard University
4 7 UCL (University College London)
5 5 University of Oxford
6 6 Imperial College London
7 4 Yale University
8 8 University of Chicago
9 13 Princeton University
10 12 California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

© QS Quacquarelli Symonds 2004-2012 . All rights reserved.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts–based research powerhouse is propelled to the top spot by its superior citation rates and student/faculty ratio, alongside an increase in international faculty. Neighbouring Harvard University slips to third, having topped the table every year between 2004 and 2009. In contrast, MIT has risen steadily up the rankings from 10th in 2007.

“The rise of MIT coincides with a global shift in emphasis toward science and technology”, says QS head of research Ben Sowter. “MIT perfects a blueprint that is now being followed by a new wave of cutting-edge tech-focused institutions, especially in Asia”.

Nine of the top 10 tech-focused universities improve their position, led by MIT, Imperial College (6), Caltech (10) and ETH Zurich (13). Korea’s KAIST (63) is the biggest riser in the top 100, while Hong Kong’s HKUST (33) and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (47) continue their rapid ascent. Both were founded in the last 21 years.

With increased investment and competition in higher education globally, the New Zealand system has held steady in the rankings table this year and remains clearly identifiable as one of the world’s leading small systems with four institutions in the top 250 and seven in the top 500.

The University of Auckland remains comfortably in the world’s top 100 institutions in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings

Auckland University of Technology entering the table for the first time means that now all but one New Zealand institution are included in the ranking.

The May budget decision to significantly increase funding for teaching in science and technology while maintaining investment in other areas, and to increase funding for scientific research, despite continued pressure on the public purse, is the sort of longer term investment commitment apparent at other systems that are doing well in the tables.

To hold ground in the table it is not enough for institutions to simply keep doing what they have always done. The sector is active worldwide and institutions have to be improving their performance just to maintain position. The biggest improvements for the New Zealand this year have been in the two research indicators which include citations per academic and the academic reputation survey.

New Zealand institutions have generally remained competitive in attracting international students.

2012/13 QS World University Rankings – New Zealand universities

RankRankInstitution nameAcademic ReputationEmployer ReputationFaculty/ StudentsCitation per FacultyInt’l FacultyInt’l
20122011 scorescorescorescorescorescorescore
8382The University of Auckland92.878.227.045.591.191.869.3
133130University of Otago65.860.231.054.0100.079.858.9
221212University of Canterbury52.063.420.933.4100.070.847.0
237237Victoria University of Wellington52.963.018.818.0100.078.644.2
308329Massey University41.836.432.520.695.541.038.2
374357University of Waikato28.836.927.214.996.081.632.8
500=NewAuckland University of Technology21.349.042.16.1 50.725.9

© QS Quacquarelli Symonds 2004-2012 . All rights reserved.
A record 72 countries are featured in the top 700, following a rapid acceleration in international mobility. Sowter states: “The unprecedented acceleration in international recruitment reflects an escalating global battle for talent. 120,000 more international students were reported by the top 500 universities this year, suggesting the global total may now exceed 4 million”.
Full methodology and rankings results are available on alongside comparative tuition fees data for institutions from around the world.

Twitter: @worlduniranking #QSWUR #unirankings
Facebook: QS World University Rankings

Notes to editors

QS Quacquarelli Symonds

Since 1990, QS has become established as the world’s leading network for top careers and education. Producers of the QS World University Rankings®, QS’s innovative research, events, publications and university solutions provide new ways of bringing universities into contact with the best and brightest students worldwide.

QS World University Rankings

The QS World University Rankings is an annual league table of the top 700 universities in the world and is arguably the best-known and respected ranking of its kind. Compiled by the QS Intelligence Unit in close consultation with an international advisory board of leading academics, the QS World University Rankings is widely referenced by prospective and current students, university professionals and governments worldwide. The purpose of the rankings has been to recognise universities as the multi-faceted organisations they are and to provide a global comparison of their success against the notional mission of remaining or becoming world-class. The rankings are based on four key pillars, research, teaching, employability and internationalisation.

The QS World University Rankings is a registered trademark

Scopus Database from Elsevier

QS Rankings use citation data from Scopus which is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and quality Web sources. Its unique database contains abstracts and references from over 18,000 titles from more than 5,000 international publishers, ensuring broad interdisciplinary coverage. Scopus is a trusted source of bibliometric data, also used by many other organisations including: the OECD, the Australian Research Council, iFQ ( Institut für Forschungsinformation und Qualitätssicherung) and ISTEP (National Institute of Science and Technology Policy of Japan).


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland