Caltech retained its No. 1 spot on the list of the world's top research universities for the fifth year in a row, despite evidence that the United States' strong placements on the list are declining.
The California Institute of Technology was rated the world's best by the Times Higher Education
in its "World University Rankings 2015-16." The list has been published since 2004.
Numerous improvements to the ranking strategy were put in place this year, including the addition of 400 more institutions to the assessment pool, wider distribution of the "Academic Reputation Survey," and other changes in the way the data were compiled, THE editor Phil Baty said on the organization's website.
For that reason, he said, 2014-15 rankings were not included alongside this year's list because "direct comparisons cannot be made." Some institutions changed positions significantly, in a way that "cannot be attributed solely to performance."
But Caltech held tight to its No. 1 spot, even with THE's new approaches, to join 62 other United States universities on the list. The total number of U.S. schools on the list, though, is down from last year's 74 and 77 the year before that, and the THE website pointed to a waning U.S. dominance in the rankings.
Baty attributed some of the U.S. loss on the list to improvements in the way data sources were used this year, including "improved coverage of research not published in English and a better geographical spread of responses to our academic reputation survey."
"However, he added that it also demonstrates that the US’ leading status as the world’s top magnet for academic and student talent 'cannot be taken for granted', citing figures that show that 47 states in the US have implemented higher education funding cuts since the global recession in 2008," the website said.
Stanford University came in third, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology fifth, Harvard University sixth, and Princeton seventh. The University of Chicago snagged 10th place.
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