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The world’s top research university? It’s Caltech -- again

The Caltech campus in Pasadena.

The Caltech campus in Pasadena.

For the fifth year in a row, Caltech is being rated the best research university in the world by the Times Higher Education magazine of Great Britain, according to a report released Wednesday.

Three other California schools were in the journal’s top 20: Stanford, ranked third, up one slot from last year; UC Berkeley at No. 13, down from 8; and UCLA was 16th, down from 12.

The Times Higher Education listing emphasizes research and research reputation more strongly than some other rankings of universities. Among its scoring categories are income from research, the amount of scholarly publications and how international the student bodies and faculties are.

After the Pasadena campus, the rest of the magazine’s top 10 were the University of Oxford, Stanford, the University of Cambridge, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Imperial College of London, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and the University of Chicago.

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Other California campuses in the top 150 were: UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego, tied at 39; UC Davis, tied at 44 with the University of Hong Kong; USC, 68; UC Irvine, sharing 106 with the University of Mannheim in Germany; and UC Santa Cruz at 144 with the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, in a statement Wednesday, said the ranking emphasizes his school’s strengths in “venturing into unexplored realms, defining new fields in science and engineering, and pushing interdisciplinary boundaries in the service of discovery. It also points to the competitive nature of higher education, where maintaining a culture of intellectual risk taking is essential to attract the most creative and original scholars, scholars who have choices among many exceptional academic institutions across the world.”

Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said in the announcement that the U.S. still dominates the rankings, with 63 institutions among the top 200, but that is down from 74 last year.

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He noted that cuts in higher education spending by California and other U.S. states over the last seven years have hurt, while the rankings of institutions in other countries such as China, Germany and the Netherlands rose because of heavy investments in universities there.

“The U.S. will have to raise its game to ensure its dominance does not erode,” he said.

Follow me @larrygordonlat.

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