The California Institute of Technology has been rated the world’s top university for the fifth consecutive year, with Oxford and Cambridge making the top five.
The 2015-16 World University Rankings, published by TES sister title Times Higher Education, show that 34 UK universities are among the top 100, with three – Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London – in the top 10.
The UK has improved its overall standing this year, with 34 institutions making the top 200, up from 29 last year.
The US has again dominated the top 10, with six institutions on the list, but Stateside dominance of the overall rankings has waned. This year, 63 of the country's universities are in the top 200, down from 74 last year.
For the first time in a decade, a non-Anglo American university – ETH Zurich – has entered the top 10. Germany has 20 universities in the top 200, a rise of eight since last year, while the Netherlands has 12, up from 11.
The National University of Singapore is the number one institution in Asia – the first time the city state has claimed the continent’s top spot in the rankings’ 12-year history.
Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, said the change in US rankings was due in part to significant improvements in data sourcing for the list this year, with “improved coverage of research not published in English and a better geographical spread of responses to our academic reputation survey”.
However, he added that it also demonstrates that the status of the US as the world’s top magnet for academic talent “cannot be taken for granted”, citing figures that show 47 states in the US have implemented higher-education funding cuts since the start of the global recession in 2008.