The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), located in Pasadena and known for pioneering efforts in science and engineering, has been ranked as the world's top university in a British survey of 200 schools worldwide. Caltech has knocked Harvard University out of the number one spot for the first time in eight years.
The 2011-2012 Times Higher Education World University Rankings found that Caltech, the former number two university, edged out Harvard primarily due to an increase in research funding. California's Stanford tied with Harvard for second place.
Universities are ranked on 13 performance indicators, including research, teaching and a reputation survey.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle a 16 percent increase in research funding at Caltech helped catapult it to the number one spot.
"The difference between Harvard and Caltech last year was miniscule," Phil Baty, editor of the rankings, told The Chronicle in a telephone interview. "A 16 percent increase, it's quite significant in tipping the balance over in its favor. Harvard had an increase as well, but it was more in line with sector averages."
Seven of the top ten schools on the list were in the U.S., including Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) and University of California (UC), Berkeley.
But prestigious public schools like UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles, have taken a dip in the rankings due to large funding cuts that many private schools don't face, the Chronicle said.
"Caltech is fortunate to have steadfast donors and partners whose support gives Caltech the ability to invest in new ideas long before they would be eligible for public funding opportunities," Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, president of Caltech, said in an e-mailed statement to the Chronicle. "This public-private partnership model enables our research funds to go further."
Public school UC Berkeley still retained a ranking higher than Yale, Columbia and Johns Hopkins universities.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.