6 Highest-Ranked Universities On The World University Rankings 2020

Recently, Times Higher Education (THE) released its list of World University Rankings 2020. And that made us wonder about the top universities in the world. Besides THE, QS is another league table that ranks universities as well. We have looked at both, and compiled a list of 6 top ranked universities on both lists, so check them out!

QS vs. THE

Before we take a look at the universities, here’s just a little bit about both these league tables. Both QS and THE are the two most popular ones for international students, providing both international, world rankings for universities. However, they use different methodologies in their rankings, and this is how each of them ranks universities.


  • Academic Reputation: 40%
  • Employer Reputation: 10%
  • Faculty/Student Ratio: 20%
  • Citations Per Faculty: 20%
  • International Faculty Ratio: 5%
  • International Student Ratio: 5%


  • Teaching (The learning environment): 30%
  • Research (Volume, income & reputation): 30%
  • Citations (Research influence): 30%
  • International Outlook (Staff, students, research): 7.5%
  • Industry Income (Knowledge transfer): 2.5%

To conclude, THE employs more well-rounded methodologies than QS, which tends to focus on academic reputation heavily. As such, THE’s methodologies are better especially when ranking universities under 50 years old. As a guideline, for general rankings, refer to THE. For niche rankings, refer to QS. And now we begin the rankings!

1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Country: United States
QS Ranking 2020: 1
THE Ranking 2020: 5

MIT is a private research university that is at the forefront of developments in artificial intelligence, climate adaptation, HIV, cancer and poverty alleviation. Despite being an institute of technology, it also has a vibrant arts culture, with 12 museums and galleries on campus! In fact, the MIT museum attracts a crowd of nearly 125,000 visitors each year.

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Highlight: The “MIT Nation” is the 10th largest economy in the world, whose alumni launched 30,000 active companies, created 4.6 million jobs, and generated roughly $1.19 trillion in total revenue.

2) University of Oxford

Country: United Kingdom
QS Ranking 2020: 4
THE Ranking 2020: 1

University of Oxford hardly needs any introduction, as it is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Also, it is the world’s second oldest surviving university, and there is evidence that shows that teaching had taken place as early as 1096. Its particular strength is the sciences, and it is ranked number one in the world for medicine.

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Highlight: An impressive alumni network, consisting of more than 120 Olympic medallists, 26 Nobel Prize winners, over 30 modern world leaders and 26 UK Prime Ministers.

3) ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Country: Switzerland
QS Ranking 2020: 6
THE Ranking 2020: 13

Established in 1855 as the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School, ETH Zurich is known for its cutting-edge research and innovation. Basing its success on Swiss traditions of holding fast to its fundamental principles of freedom, individual responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit and open-minded approach to education, ETH Zurich is now one of the world’s top universities in science and technology.

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Highlight: ETH Zurich had 20 Nobel Prize winners as alumni within 150 years of establishment, including Albert Einstein.

4) California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Country: United States
QS Ranking 2020: 5
THE Ranking 2020: 2

Placing strong emphasis in science and technology teaching and research, Caltech is not that easy to get into. As a world-renowned institute, Caltech seeks answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation and transform the future. And that’s not all! They take their intercollegiate sports seriously as well, and they even have a beaver as a mascot – nature’s own engineer!

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Highlight: Caltech has many state-of-the-art facilities including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is owned by NASA.

5) National University of Singapore (NUS)

Country: Singapore
QS Ranking 2020: 11
THE Ranking 2020: 25

NUS is Singapore’s flagship university, and takes a global approach to education and research, while still focusing on Asian perspectives and expertise. In line with that, NUS conducts research by working with partners from industries, the government and academia to address issues relevant to Asia and the world. Today, NUS has 17 faculties and schools across three campuses.

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Highlight: NUS’ latest research focus is to use data science, optimisation research and cyber security to support Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

6) Tsinghua University

Country: China
QS Ranking 2020: 16
THE Ranking 2020: 23

Tsinghua University seems like a dream location, being on the site of the former imperial gardens of the Qing Dynasty. As such, it is surrounded by plenty of historical sites! Providing excellent engineering and computer science programs, it has been ranked as one of the best in the world for both since 2015. Its motto is distinctively Asian: “self-discipline and excellence”.

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Highlight: Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton have all spoken at Tsinghua University.

Thinking that we’ve missed out on some rather famous universities? Those are the Ivy League schools, not only viewed as some of the most prestigious, but are also ranked among the best universities worldwide. For your information, the Ivy League schools are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University.