10 of the World's Most Exclusive Universities

University applications are nerve-wracking at the best of times; often coming at the same time as final year school exams, students are under the extra pressure of deciding on a subject they might lik

University applications are nerve-wracking at the best of times; often coming at the same time as final year school exams, students are under the extra pressure of deciding on a subject they might like to specialise in, along with a university in which to do the specialising, and filling in what feels like several thousand forms before even being considered for entrance to a specific institution.

This is the level of stress inherent in trying to get into just about any university but the entire process becomes hugely more challenging when trying to gain admission into the world's more exclusive universities. Some universities have an incredibly high acceptance rate — the University of Kansas, for example, had an acceptance rate of  92.3% in 2012, while Boston Architectural College accepted 100% of its applicants the same year. Universities with low acceptance rates tend to be those with a large emphasis on practical abilities, such as music-focussed institutions, or historically prestigious colleges, like the Ivy Leagues.

Admission criteria differs from institution to institution, but the grades that a student has achieved while at school are generally of huge import in terms of their applications to university. On top of this, other areas examined by an institution can include a student's involvement with extracurricular activities within their school, any involvement with volunteer or charity work, and skills pursued and developed outside of the school environment. There may also be an interview or an audition, depending on the course for which the student is applying. Most students who stand a chance of entering these institutions have been working towards that acceptance letter since the beginning of their academic career, forming a perfectly well-rounded academic and extracurricular record that sets them apart from hundreds of other applicants.

Below, we've detailed ten of the most exclusive universities worldwide, as assessed by their application-to-acceptance ratio in the last academic year. It's worth noting that all but one of these universities are located in America; that could be because of the huge volume of applications these world-renowned universities receive from both national and international students yearly and the limited spaces available. What does it take to make into one of these 10 most elite universities in the world? Read on to find out.

10 University of Oxford: 19% acceptance rate

9 California Institute of Technology: 12% acceptance rate

8 Dartmouth: 10.05% acceptance rate

7 Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 8.2% acceptance rate

6 Princeton: 7.29%

5 Columbia: 6.89% acceptance rate

4 Yale University: 6.72%

3 Juilliard: 6% acceptance rate

2 Harvard University: 5.9% acceptance rate

1 Stanford University: 5.7% acceptance rate

Number one on the list is Stanford University, fractionally more exclusive than Harvard with its most recently documented acceptance rate standing at 5.7%.  Situated in California, Stanford was established in 1891. The university is a notably politically concerned one; it was heavily involved in the civil rights movements of the 1960s and '70s, hosted Martin Luther King Jr. during the '60s, and is credited as being the first university to establish a group advocating the rights of the gay and lesbian community. The school operates on a need-blind basis, meaning that a student's financial status will not affect or influence their application to the university; rather, selection is made on the basis of the depth and range of their high school curriculum, and how highly they have achieved throughout their high school career.

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10 of the World's Most Exclusive Universities