Two Canadian universities cracked the top 20 in the annual QS World University Rankings for 2012 released on Tuesday.

McGill University placed 18th with the University of Toronto right behind in 19th place.

Overall, Canadian universities garnered nine spots in the top 200.

The University of British Columbia ranked 45th, while the University of Alberta was 108th and University of Montreal at 114.

Earning the top honours was America’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology, jumping from number three to one for the first time ever. This is also the first time since the ranking began in 2004 that Harvard or Cambridge has not bagged the top spot.

According to an online statement from QS education writer Laura Bridgestock, there was a growth in the number of technology-focused universities that made the list this year.

Universities are ranked based on six different indicators that cover four keys areas of university life: research, teaching, employability and internationalization, said Danny Byrne, editor of, in an interview with CTV News Channel.

Byrne’s site is responsible for publishing the rankings every year.

The extensive ratings are 50 per cent based on major surveys, taking in approximately 70,000 responses. They also evaluate student-to-faculty ratios, research citations and the proportion of international students and faculty, said Byrne.

Canada’s strength was in research citations, with seven universities in the global top 100 for this category.

“In other areas, (Canada) is not quite as strong compared to the US, and UK. Student faculty ratios are higher and (Canada) is not quite as international,” said Byrne.

In its ninth year now, the rankings continue to generate views, with over 14 million people expected to visit this year.

But based on the last nine years, average movement in the top 100 is less than five places and gets even lower as universities near the top of the list. The most movement seen this year was MIT’s jump into first place, according to Byrne.

“We don’t recommend that students should base their decision entirely on a ranking system, however we think they provide students with a source of information that is very useful and that wouldn’t otherwise be available,” he said.