In an article forecasting the collapse of California’s public university and college system, the Economist notes
The best public higher education in the world is to be found at the University of California (UC). This claim is backed up by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, which provides an authoritative ranking of research universities. The UC’s campus at Berkeley ranks third behind two private universities, Harvard and Stanford. Several of the other ten UC sites, such as Los Angeles and San Diego, are not far behind. Californians are justifiably proud.
We rank universities by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, articles published in Nature and Science, articles indexed in major citation indices, and the per capita academic performance of an institution.
UC Davis, in case you’re curious about that Athens of the Central Valley, rates 48th in the world by this method. Of course Davisites prefer the Washington Monthly method, which puts UC Davis at number 8 nationwide (just ahead of Stanford), but Shanghai Jiao Tong still puts UC Davis higher than US News and some other methods.