Rome's La Sapienza university has entered the ranks of the world's top 200 universities, climbing 15 places from last year to reach number 190. The figures have been compiled by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), an independent expert body which specialise in data relating to international academic excellence.

La Sapienza is an autonomous state university that dates back to 1303. It has 112 departments, 30 research centres, 116 libraries and its 23 faculties offer over 300 degree programmes. With a student population of 147,000, La Sapienza is the largest university in Europe.

Of the 500 universities selected worldwide, 15 Italian institutions are represented, including two new entries: Milan and Turin polytechnic universities. The university of Bologna is top of Italy's list at number 174.

Cambridge, which has knocked last year's winner Harvard into second place, is now ranked as the world's best university.

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