Yale jumped three spots this year to tie the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for fourth place in an annual British ranking of the world’s best universities.

The 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement’s “World University Rankings” of the top 200 universities placed Yale just behind Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard, which also took the crown last year. Both MIT and Yale received a score of 89.2 on a 100-point scale, while Harvard scored a perfect 100.

Forty percent of the score was based on the opinions of 3,703 academics around the world, who offered their lists of the 30 best schools in their fields of study. The rest of the score was determined by typical measures of academic strength such as student-faculty ratio and the number of professors’ citations in academic papers. In addition, one tenth of each university’s score was determined by its percentage of international staff and students.

In an August Newsweek article, “The World’s Most Global Universities,” Yale President Richard Levin argued that the globalization of universities is both necessary and inevitable, and the authors of the rankings referenced Levin’s article in their accompanying editorial.

“In response to the same forces that have propelled the world economy, universities have become more self-consciously global: seeking students from around the world who represent the entire spectrum of cultures and values, sending their own students abroad to prepare them for global careers, offering courses of study that address the challenges of an interconnected world and collaborative research programmes to advance science for the benefit of all humanity,” Levin said in Newsweek.

But some Yale administrators said they are skeptical of such ranking systems.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said he thinks ranking systems simplify and exaggerate the differences between universities.

“By the nature of the enterprise, they all attempt to reduce enormous diversity and strength in programming to a single number, and the top schools tend to cluster so closely together on many measures that the distinctions between ‘ranks’ seem more or less meaningless,” he said in an e-mail.

Jessica Jeffers ’09, who is from Paris, said Yale’s lower ranking than Harvard’s is consistent with its less-recognized name outside the United States.

Other students said they do not consider such rankings important.

Sam Purdy ’10 said the quantifiable elements of any survey should not determine the attractiveness of the school to a prospective student.

“You can’t quantify the experience,” he said. “The only rankings that really matter are the ones based on one’s own standards.”

All of the universities on the list are located in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia. This is the fourth year the Times Higher Education Supplement has featured the survey.