A worldwide ranking system has placed Oxford as the 9th best university in the world – joint with University of Chicago.The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which has been ranking the world’s Top 500 universities each year since 2003, indicated Oxford’s highest global rank since 2004 in a top ten once again dominated by North American institutions.Harvard topped the list, with the remaining top ten universities being Stanford, Massachusetts, California-Berkley, Cambridge, Princeton, California Institute of Technology, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford (joint).The creators of the ARWU, or “Shanghai ranking,” claim that it is recognized as the “precursor of global university rankings and the most trustworthy one,” using a set of “objective indicators and third-party data” to rank institutions.ARWU describe their indicators as follows: the total number of the alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals; the total number of the staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals; the number of “Highly Cited Researchers”; the number of papers published in Nature and Science between 2009 and 2013; the total number of papers indexed in “Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index.”The weighted scores of the above five indicators are then divided by the number of full-time academic staff to give a “per capita performance” score.The above indicators are used to produce an overall points-score for each University. Oxford’s 2014 total was 57.4, an improvement on last year’s 55.9, while Cambridge’s score decreased marginally from 69.6 to 69.2.The other UK universities to feature in this year’s Top 100 were University College London (20th), Imperial College London (22nd), Manchester (38th), Edinburgh (45th), King’s College London (59th), and Bristol (63rd).ARWU also ranked each University in five “Broad Subject Fields” – Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Engineering/Technology and Computing Sciences, Life and Agricultural Sciences, Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy, and Social Sciences – as well as in five “Subject Fields” – Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and Economics/Business. Oxford edged Cambridge in both the Social Sciences and Computer Science fields, coming 15th and 25th worldwide respectively, while according to the rankings, Oxford’s best subject performance was in Maths, placing it eighth globally.However, the ARWU rankings have come under criticism from some Oxford students who claim that they show a strong bias towards non-humanity subjects – evident in the spread of “Subject Field” rankings.For example, 20% of the overall score is calculated from the number of university staff winning Noble Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics only, along with Fields Medals in Mathematics.Fourth year classicist Emilia Carslaw told Cherwell, “I think it’s a terrible shame that humanities subjects which make up the core of the culture at most universities are not used to calculate the ARWU rankings.”She also warned, “O tempora! O mores! If Oxford descends in the rankings, so do the levels of our moral integrity.”Jesus historian Joel Nelson meanwhile told Cherwell that, “despite the rankings, I would still rather be at Durham than a boring nerd at Cambridge!”The full list of rankings can be found here.