Among the top 20 in the overall rankings, ETH Zurich, in joint 13th place, was the only institution outside the US and the UK.
“We are absolutely delighted to have retained our position at the top,” Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said.
“Emerging countries of Asia are going to play an increasingly powerful role”
“While UK universities face great uncertainty around Brexit and funding, these results demonstrate that we are well prepared to meet these challenges.
“Oxford’s success is in large part due to our research collaborations with other excellent universities around the world and we remain determined both to deepen and to expand these partnerships, whatever Brexit brings.”
This year’s rankings list almost 1,400 institutions from 92 countries.
Almost half of the top 200 spots were claimed by European universities, but new entries from Bangladesh, Brunei, Cuba, Malta, Montenegro, Puerto Rico and Vietnam, as well as the growing strength of Chinese universities, are contributing to the greater diversification of higher education.
Japan and China dominate the Asian rankings, accounting for 45% of the continent’s listed institutions.
Of the top three Asian universities, two – Tsinghua and Peking – are located in the Chinese capital Beijing, while the third is the National University of Singapore.
“It has long been clear that the emerging countries of Asia are going to play an increasingly powerful role among the global elite of higher education,” Phil Baty, THE chief knowledge officer, said.
“It must also be stated, however, that the traditional Anglo-American powerhouses will not be displaced at the top of our rankings with ease.
“Future editions… will most likely reveal intense competition, and while European and American institutions face significant hurdles, Chinese and other Asian universities have challenges of their own they must meet.
“These include ensuring that the excellent academics they produce do not move abroad to more established institutions in Europe and North America; promoting a culture of scholarly creativity and freedom; and boosting ties with nations across the globe,” he added.
Despite drives to internationalise its higher education system, India failed to crack the top 300.
Also keen to improve their international standing is Russia, whose Lomonosov Moscow State University came in 189th place.
This is despite Moscow State not being funded by Project 5-100, a Russian government initiative giving certain universities special funding to boost their rankings and spearhead internationalisation.
The University of Cape Town in South Africa was Africa’s highest-rated institution coming in at 136th, followed by its compatriot Witwatersrand University in 194th.
Across the Atlantic, Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo topped South America in the 251-300 range.
In Oceania, the University of Melbourne came out top with an overall global ranking of 32.
A total of 11 Australian universities made it into the top 200, including newcomers Queensland University of Technology and the University of Canberra.
“Chinese and other Asian universities have challenges of their own they must meet”
“Rankings give universities an opportunity to see how they are performing on the world stage, and it is very rewarding to receive this latest acknowledgement,” Margaret Sheil, vice-chancellor and president of QUT, said in a press release.
“The results… reflect our strong and ongoing investments in teaching and learning, graduate employability, research output, and engagement with industry.
The rankings use 13 performance indicators related teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook to determine its rankings.
Teaching, research and citations are given a 30% weighting each, international outlook is worth 7.5% of the total score, and industry income accounts for 2.5%.
The University of Luxembourg came out top in terms of international outlook, followed by the City University of Hong Kong, Macau University of Science and Technology, Qatar University, the Università della Svizzera Italiana and Sharjah, all of whom achieved 99 out of 100 or more in the category.
Macau University of Science and Technology had the third-highest proportion of international students, who represent 79% of its intake, behind only the American University of Sharjah (83%) in the UAE and the Eastern Mediterranean University (also 83%) in Northern Cyprus.
THE World University Rankings 2020 Top 10
1. University of Oxford, UK
2. California Institute of Technology, US
3. University of Cambridge, UK
4. Stanford University, US
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
6. Princeton University, US
7. Harvard University, US
8. Yale University, US
9. University of Chicago, US
10. Imperial College London, UK
For the full list of THE rankings, click here.