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Caltech Tops Harvard, Oxford As World’s Top-Ranked Research University

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PASADENA (CBS) — For the first time ever, the most prestigious university in the world is no longer back east or even across the pond — it’s right here in the Southland.

Caltech outranks other universities like Harvard, Oxford and MIT to take the title of the world’s top university, according to a British higher education magazine.

The achievement marks the first time that Caltech surpassed Harvard in the Times Higher Education magazine’s World University Rankings.

Until this week, Harvard had topped the list since the rankings began in 2004. This year, it is tied for second with Stanford University.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10: the University of Oxford, Princeton University, the University of Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, the University of Chicago and UC Berkeley.

Other California campuses in the top 100 included UCLA at 13, UC San Diego, 33, UC Santa Barbara, 35; UC Davis, 38, tied with Australian National University; USC, 55; and UC Irvine, 86.

Caltech, which had placed second last year, owes its rise to increases in research funding.

“It’s not that Harvard has declined. It’s that Caltech has just slightly edged across the line in the indicators,” according to editor Phil Baty, who oversees the rankings.

The latest accolade for Caltech followed President Obama’s announcement last week that Caltech Professor Jacqueline Barton would be among this year’s National Medal of Science recipients. Barton attributed Caltech’s No. 1 status to its unique environment.

“It is a very special place in terms of research, a place where everyone interacts. It’s this gem of a university where we all come together and do scientific research. I think it’s nice that’s being recognized,” she told the Pasadena Star-News.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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