Cream of world’s science varsities


Here’s The Times Higher Education Supplement’s peer ranking of the world’s top universities in physical and life sciences (The THES, founded in 1971, is the UK’s most authoritative source of information about higher education). The rankings are drawn from an expert peer-review panel of 1,300 academics around the world, and are rated on subject specialism and location. They cover the physical and life sciences (except for medicine).

1. University of Cambridge:

Britain’s University of Cambridge has topped the list, making it the best university in the world for science. That’s not all the good news. An anonymous American donor gave $1.85 million to set up an endowment fund in honour of cosmologist-author Stephen Hawking. In 2009, the university will celebrate its 800th anniversary, making it one of the world’s oldest universities. Cambridge is the largest university in the UK (over 100 departments, faculties and schools). Its contribution has ranged from the discovery of the mechanism of blood circulation to the structure of DNA, from the great philosophers of the early 15th century to the groundbreaking work of its many Nobel Prize winners (more than 60).

Information courtesy University of Cambridge

2. University of Oxford :

The University of Oxford is one of the oldest English-speaking universities. It can lay claim to nine centuries of documented existence. According to the university’s Web site, there is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. Except for St Hilda’s — which continues to remain an all-women college — all of Oxford’s 39 colleges now admit both men and women.

Information courtesy University of Oxford

3. Harvard University:

Harvard College was established in 1636 and was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown. Harvard was a young minister who, on his death in 1638, left his library and half his estate to the newly established institution. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US. Seven presidents of the US (John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Rutherford B Hayes, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and George W Bush) were graduates of Harvard. Its faculty has produced 40 Nobel laureates. The US News & World Report ranks Harvard at No 1 in its rating for America’s best universities for the year 2005.

Information courtesy Harvard University

4. University of California, Berkeley

The roots of the University of California go back to the gold rush days of 1849, when the drafters of the state’s constitution required the legislature to ‘encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement’ of the people of California. The university that was born nearly 20 years later — on March 23, 1868 — was the product of a merger between the College of California (a private institution) and the Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College. Among other things, the university is credited with the isolation of the human polio virus and the discovery of all artificial elements heavier than uranium. Eighteen members of the Berkeley faculty have been awarded Nobel Prizes for these and subsequent discoveries, as well as in literature and economics.

Information courtesy University of California

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

It’s probably one of the most famous universities in the world. But did you know its founder, William Barton Rogers, apparently never received a degree? In 1853, he moved to Boston, where he enlisted the support of the scientific community to create an institution for technical and scientific education. It was largely through his efforts that the MIT was born in 1861. Today, it has more than 900 faculty and 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It is organised into five Schools — Architecture and Planning, Engineering, Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Management, and Science — and the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology. Fifty-nine current or former members of the MIT community have won the Nobel Prize. The US News & World Report ranks MIT — along with Stanford University and Duke University — at No 5 in its rating for America’s best universities for the year 2005.

Information courtesy MIT