British and American varsities dominated a list of the world's 100 best universities published on Thursday but more institutions from southeast Asia made their way into it.
The number of universities from southeast Asian countries - Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Singapore - increased from 14 to 16 in the QS/Times Higher Education rankings, with the University of Tokyo the highest ranked Asian institution at 22.
Although Britain had four places in the top 10 and 18 in the top 100, Oxford University fell a place to joint fifth.
The number of North American universities fell from 42 to 36 in the top 100.
Leading British universities said institutions in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were "snapping at the heels" of Western universities.
The top 20 universities:
University College London (Britain),
Imperial College London (Britain),
Oxford (Britain), Chicago (US),
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US),
Johns Hopkins (US),
Australian National (Australia),
ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and