Edinburgh University has been named the world's 16th best higher education institution - ahead of global rivals such as Princeton and Columbia.

Its position in the 2022 QS Rankings marks a 10-year high for the historic place of learning, whose alumni include philosopher David Hume, former prime minister Gordon Brown and Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.

Edinburgh, which officially opened in 1583, rose from 20th in the 2021 table to finish just behind Yale and Switzerland's EPFL. Tsinghua and Peking universities in China were ranked 17th and 18th.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is top, with Oxford in second place. 

In a positive sign for Scotland's higher education sector, Glasgow, St Andrews, Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt and Stirling universities also jumped up the list.

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Heriot-Watt's rise was particularly sharp. The institution, which has campuses in Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders and Orkney, moved from 301st to equal 270th.

Scotland also has three universities in the world's top 200.

The QS rankings are considered to be one of the "big three" alongside the Academic Ranking of World Universities and Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Alastair Sim, Universities Scotland Director, hailed the results, stressing they had come despite disruption caused by Covid-19.

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“In what has been a difficult period for the higher education sector, to see Scottish universities perform so successfully in this year’s rankings is a great achievement," he said.

"It is testament to the dedication of staff and students alike. In an increasingly global and competitive university sector, Scotland continues to be one of the best places to learn, research and work."

Mr Sim added: “The past year of Covid-19 has shown the undeniable value of research. Research is something that Scotland does at a world-class level with pioneering developments that are improving lives every day.

"It is especially gratifying to see many of our members perform better than last year on research in the rankings.”