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Harvard retains top spot as Oxbridge slips in university rankings

Jessica Hartogs, Special to
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Malia Obama will be attending the world's 'most prestigious university,' when she joins the Harvard University Class of 2021, according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings published this week.

President Obama's daughter, who recently announced that she will be taking a gap year before starting at Harvard in the fall of 2017, will join the oldest university in America – that counts more than 45 Nobel laureates, over 30 heads of state (including her father) and 48 Pulitzer prizewinners in its alumni. It also receives one of the largest financial endowments of any higher education institution in the world - $1.5 billion for 2013, according to its website.

The top ten most prestigious universities are mainly located in the U.S., although both Cambridge University and Oxford University in the U.K. made the cut, albeit slipping from rankings two and three to four and five, respectively.

Asian universities made a big leap – claiming 18 places in the top 100 universities, up from ten in 2015. Japan's University of Tokyo held onto its 12th place.

Asia's performance showed heavy higher education investments from many governments in the region, said Joshua Mok Ka-Ho, vice-president and chair professor of comparative policy at Hong Kong's Lingnan University.

"Such self-enhancing and advancing trends will continue, particularly when an increasing number of governments in Asia have recognized the importance of research, knowledge transfer, innovation and technology in transforming the economy and society," he said.

Meanwhile, several European higher learning institutions lost their places, including the University of Bristol and Durham University, which completely slipped out of the top 100 this year.

Lisi Cai | Getty Images

The top 10 institutions in 2016 are:

1. Harvard University, U.S.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.

3. Stanford University, U.S.

4. University of Cambridge, UK

5. University of Oxford, UK

6. University of California, Berkeley, U.S.

7. Princeton University, U.S.

8. Yale University, U.S.

9. Columbia University, U.S.

10. California Institute of Technology, U.S.

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