1) California Institute of Technology
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2) University of Oxford
Twenty-six British prime ministers, at least 30 other world leaders, 12 saints and 20 archbishops of Canterbury have been Oxonians. Oxford virtually invented college life in the 13th century. The world's third-oldest surviving university offers approximately 12,000 undergraduates a choice of 38 colleges and six permanent private-residence halls.
3) Stanford University
Founded in 1891 by railway tycoon Leland Stanford in remembrance of his son, who died aged 16, Stanford is said to be, after Harvard, the US' most selective university, accepting around 7 per cent of applicants. Its alumni founded corporate giants including Hewlett-Packard and Google. The world's third-richest university, it teaches about 7,000 undergraduate and around 4,000 graduate students.
4) Harvard University
The oldest academic institute in the US, it dates from 1636 and is named after its first benefactor, John Harvard. It has the global academy's largest financial endowment and boasts more than 40 Nobel laureates. Its 210-acre main campus and 23 satellites house 10 faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
In 150 years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has produced more than 70 Nobel laureates, eight of whom are members of its current faculty. From its 168-acre Charles River campus, more than 10,000 students are instructed in architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts and social sciences; management; science; and health sciences and technology.
6) Princeton University
At the heart of American academic life since its charter in 1746, Princeton is one of the smallest of the private Ivy Leaguers, but can boast more than 30 Nobel laureates among its past faculty and alumni. Its 500-acre campus accommodates around 5,000 undergraduates and 2,500 postgraduates overseen by more than 1,100 academics.
7) University of Cambridge
Cambridge alumni loom large in the making of the modern world: Newton on laws and motion; Rutherford splitting the atom; Darwin on evolution; Turing's prototypical computer; Crick and Watson with DNA. Founded in 1209 by Oxford scholars who quit after a dispute with the local citizenry, Cambridge now employs more than 8,500 staff and has over 18,300 students.
8) Imperial College London
With an emphasis on research, Imperial has four faculties - medicine, natural science, engineering and business. Founded in 1907 as a constituent college of the University of London, it became independent in 2007. Its main campus in London's museum quarter and seven others house more than 1,200 scholars and around 13,000 students.
9) University of California, Berkeley
Vitamin E was identified here, a lost Scarlatti opera found, the flu virus identified and America's first no-fault divorce law drafted. A gold-rush by-product, the university by San Francisco Bay was chartered in 1868. To date, more than 20 faculty members have become Nobel laureates. Today's student body consists of about 36,000 members, more than 10,000 of them postgraduates.
10) University of Chicago
Chicago has more postgraduates than undergraduates, underlining its focus on advanced academic exploration. The Chicago School of economics, embracing Milton Friedman's pro-market philosophy, developed here, as did the first self-sustained manmade nuclear reaction. Founded in 1890 with a grant by John D. Rockefeller, Chicago now operates 125 research institutes and centres.