Three Israeli universities rank among the top 100 in the world, according to the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released Wednesday.

The authoritative study, compiled by researchers at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, which evaluates more than 1000 institutions globally, named Hebrew University of Jerusalem the 53rd-best university, with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Weizmann Institute of Science placing 78th and 93rd, respectively.

Topping the list were US universities Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

This marks the first time that three Israeli universities were included in the top 100; a total of six Israeli institutions were among the top 500. Tel Aviv University was ranked in the 101-150 category, whereas Bar-Ilan University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev both placed in the 301-400 category.

In addition, universities also were ranked according to individual academic fields. Hebrew University, specifically, ranked 16th in the world in mathematics, 27th in computer science, in the top 51-75 in physics, and in the top 101-150 in economics and business. The university was ranked 38th in the world in the natural sciences and mathematics, in the top 51-75 in the social sciences, in the top 101-150 in clinical medicine and pharmacy, and in the top 101-150 in the life and agriculture sciences.

Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson said, "I am proud that several of Israel’s research universities are ranked among the world’s top achievers in this important international ranking, and that once again the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been ranked the leader in Israel."

The ARWU, inaugurated in 2003 and published annually since then, uses six objective indicators to rank universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals; the number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific; the quantity of articles published in nature and science journals; the quantity of papers indexed in scientific databanks; and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution.

Of the more than 1,000 universities ranked by ARWU every year, the top 500 are published on the web.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that his government's investment in academics is responsible for six Israeli institutions being listed among the top 500 universities in the world.

"We are investing NIS seven billion in universities in multi-year programs, in centers of excellence and in reversing the brain drain from Israel, and our efforts are bearing fruit," Netanyahu stated.

The prime minister said that he was particularly proud that four Israeli universities were ranked among the top 30 in computer sciences, reaffirming the country's position as a high-tech leader.

"The government under my authority will continue to invest in education - from education in kindergartens to higher education," he added.

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