What makes a global top 10 university?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is in first place in the latest league table of the world's best universities.

It's the third year in a row that the US university, famous for its science and technology research, has been top of the QS World University Rankings.

Another science-based university, Imperial College London, is in joint second place along with Cambridge University.

Behind these in fourth place is Harvard University, the world's wealthiest university. And two more UK universities share joint fifth place, University College London and Oxford.

With King's College London in 16th place, it means that London has three institutions in the top 20.

Edinburgh University is joint 17th and there are two Swiss institutions, ETH Zurich and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in this top tier.

But US universities are still in the majority, taking 11 of the places in the top 20.

Even though some university leaders might be sceptical about such rankings, they will all be sharply aware of their significance.

Mike Nicholson, Oxford University's head of admissions, says: "It's fair to say that it would be a foolish university that did not pay close attention to how league tables are constructed.".

Read full story by Sean Coughlan at BBC

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