British universities are top of the class in the latest Times Higher Education ranking.
Oxford held on to first place for the second year in a row, while Cambridge rose from fourth to second, unseating the California Institute of Technology, which is joint third with Stanford University.
Next come more American universities: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and Princeton.
The annual ranking of 1,000 universities across 77 countries takes into account quality of teaching, research, citations, international reach and industry income – which stems from external collaborations and research grants.
The 2018 results show growing competition from Asian universities.
There are also concerns Brexit could hurt British universities’ global standing, both in terms of funding and appeal.
“There’s no doubt that continental Europe is genuinely in a position to capitalise on potential change with Brexit,” Phil Baty, editorial director of the THE ranking, told the Financial Times.
“Their institutions are way behind Britain in terms of market share, but they’re growing and increasingly aggressive and interested in international talent flows, such as students from Asia who were previously going to study in the US or UK.”