The University was ranked 20th on a 2012-2013 list released Thursday of the top 400 universities in the world.

The list is released annually by the Times Higher Education, a British higher education publication. The rankings are based on 13 variables divided into five categories that measure university performance: teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said though he’s proud of how the University fared, rankings aren’t the most important indicator of a university’s success.

“What you or I may have picked for a college is something that’s unique and individual,” Fitzgerald said. “So rankings are nice, but they are not what students should be basing their decisions on where to attend college.”

Though the University dropped two spots from last year’s rankings, Phil Baty, the editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings, said it was a difficult year for American and British institutions. Specifically, she noted tough competition from Asian institutions benefitting from significant funding and government support, according to a University press release.

California Institute of Technology was ranked first, followed by the University of Oxford and Stanford University. The University of Michigan was the third-highest ranked American public institution in the Times’ rankings. The University of California, Berkeley came in ninth and the University of California, Los Angeles ranked 13th.

Baty said in the release that the top 200 schools comprise just 1 percent of the world’s colleges and universities.

In addition to ranking the world’s top institutions, the Times Higher Education also ranks world universities by reputation, which measures a university’s global brand.

The University ranked 12th on the list of institutions with the best world reputations.

— Daily Staff Reporter Molly Block contributed to this report.

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