Some of the highest rated universities in the world are Harvard University, Stanford University, Imperial College London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, and University of Cambridge. Academic Ranking of World Universities, or ARWU, and QS World University Rankings produce reputable lists.
ARWU, also known as Shanghai Ranking, is published by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. The focus of this system of rating is on academic excellence. It uses a special methodology, which combines four criteria and is thought to be objective. The criteria include quality of education, quality of faculty, research output and per capita performance. Each is assigned different weighting in the overall score of the university: 10, 40, 40 and 10 percent respectively. These criteria are measured by the number of alumni and staff as Nobel Laureates, papers published and indexed in reputable publications, and per capita academic performance at a given university.
The ARWU system has been criticized for giving too much weight to international awards as a measure of academic excellence. Admittedly, this results in overlooking the area of humanities and also the quality of teaching within universities. ARWU produces alternative ratings as well. For example, there is one that takes away the Nobel Laureate factor, and other factors which are produced for particular academic subjects.