The University of New South Wales has again been ranked in the world's top 50 universities, cementing its position as a global leader.

UNSW is ranked 49 in the QS World University Rankings 2011/12, released this week.

The annual rankings of the leading 300 universities are based on six factors: academic and employer reputation, staff-student ratios, research citations and the proportion of international staff and students.

UNSW is one of five Australian institutions to make the top 50. The top spot was claimed by the University of Cambridge with Harvard second and MIT third.

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