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October 22 2011 7 22 /10 /October /2011 00:08

Introduction
As is well known, ranking universities and colleges involves so much criteria and data, and even subjectivity and generalization. Ranking therefore is never an exact science; strengths and weaknesses of the colleges are never static, just as are aspects like availability and use of research funding, upgrading, qualities of instructors. Many colleges are slow at revolutionizing their curriculums, while others are rapidly innovative and easily embrace change.

This year, for the first time in a very long time, I recently perused some of the rankings of the universities all over the world. My impetus lies in the newsflash that California Institute of Technology, a powerhouse in Pasadena that is therefore not far-fetched from where I live, has become ranked in Forbes magazine as the top research university in the world. California very much remains a flagship state, despite the economic woes and the "spoiled brat" image of Californians. There is a latent, sometimes blatant "East Coast-West Coast" rivalry among Americans, that the displacement of Harvard by  "Caltech" as the leading academic institution in the world is cause for Californians to roar it into the wild.

When I was at Texas' Baylor University in Waco, I marveled at the young Caltech graduate student from India who visited to witness the wedding of his sister Nivedita Sahu who was a classmate. Undoubtedly, he was a very brilliant and affable fellow. As I left Waco for Los Angeles, the director of the Department of Environmental Studies, a top national atmospheric physicist who additionally had a graduate degree in music, Dr. W. Merle Alexander told me that he routinely visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena at least once a year. Professor Alexander was to teach at Baylor for thirty years and was a long-term member of the Waco Symphony Orchestra whereby he played the french horn. Long before I knew about Californian genius Steve Jobs, Baylor had introduced me to directly facing and interacting with the computer world, in the dense network of Apple Macintosh computers all over the campus.

I took interest in the "Times Higher Education" World University rankings which were established in collaboration with a data provider generated by the same agency, with Thomas Reuters, and with expert information from over fifty leading persons in the field from fifteen nations across each of the continents. "Times Higher Education"  regards itself as the golden yardstick in the field in the area of university performance comparison. Among the factors considered and weighed in ranking the universities were innovation, citations generated, volume and reputation of the researching, the teaching-learning environment, and the international outlook of the institutions. The institutions were ranked universally, and by region.

World Top Universities 2011-2012
(1) California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA; (2) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; (2) Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; (4) University of Oxford, UK; (5) Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; (6) University of Cambridge, UK; (7) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; (8) Imperial College London, UK; (9) University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; (10) University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; (11) Yale University, New Haven, CT; (12) Columbia University, Washington, DC; (13) University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; (14) Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; (15) ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland; (16) University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; (17) University College London, UK; (18) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; (19) University of Toronto, Canada; (20) Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Top North American Universities 2011-2012
(1) California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA; (2) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; (2) Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; (4) Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; (5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; (6) University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; (7) University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; (8) Yale University, New Haven, CT; (9) Columbia University, Washington, DC; (10) University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; (11) Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; (12) University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; (13) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; (14) Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; (15) Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; (16) University of British Columbia, Canada; (17) Duke University, Durham, NC; (18) Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA; (19) University of Washington, Seattle, WA; (20) Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Top African Universities 2011-2012
(1) University of Capetown, South Africa; (2) Stellenbosch University, South Africa; (3) University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; (4) Alexandria University, Egypt.

Top Oceania Universities 2011-2012
(1) University of Melbourne, Australia; (2) Australian National University, Australia; (3) University of Sydney, Australia; (4) University of Queensland, Australia; (5) Monash University, Australia; (6) University of Auckland, New Zealand; (7) University of New South Wales, Australia; (8) University of Western Australia, Australia; (9) University of Adelaide; (10) University of Otago, New Zealand; (11) Macquarie University, Australia; (12) Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; (13) University of Wollongong, Australia; (14) University of Newcastle, Australia (15) Queensland University of Technology, Australia; (16) University of Canterbury, New Zealand; (17) Charles Darwin University, Australia; (18) University of Tasmania, Australia; (19) University of Waikato, New Zealand; (20) Curtin University, Australia.

Top European Universities 2011-2012
(1) University of Oxford, UK; (2) University of Cambridge, UK; (3) Imperial College London, UK; (4) ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland; (5) University College London, UK; (6) Karolinska Institute, Sweden; (7) University of Edinburgh, UK; (8) Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, Germany (9) Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland; (10) University of Manchester, UK; (11) King's College London, UK; (12) Ecole Normale Superieure, France; (13) University of Zurich; Switzerland; (14) Ecole Polytechnique, France; (15) University of Bristol, UK; (16) Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; (17) Utrecht University, Netherlands; (18) Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen, Germany; (19) Universitat Heidelberg, Germany; (20) Wageningen University and Research Center, Netherlands.

Top South American Universities 2011-2012
(1) University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; (2) State University of Campinas, Brazil (3) Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile.

Top Asian Universities 2011-2012
(1) University of Tokyo, Japan; (2) University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; (3) National University of Singapore, Singapore; (4) Peking University, China; (5) Kyoto University, Japan; (6) Pohang University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong; (7) Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong (8) Tsinghua University, China; (9) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea; (10) Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan; (11) Osaka University, Japan; (12) Tohoku University, Japan; (13) Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; (14) Seoul National University, Republic of Korea; (15) Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; (16) National Taiwan University, Taiwan; (17) Tel Aviv University, Israel; (18) Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; (19) University of Science and Technology of China, China; (20) City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Jonathan Musere

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