Universities from mainland China broke into the global top 100 in an annual ranking for the first time Monday, but Harvard remained number one for the 14th consecutive year.
China's prestigious Tsinghua University was 58th, beating elite Peking University in 71st place, in the "Academic Ranking of World Universities" compiled by the independent Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
The National University of Singapore also entered the top 100 for the first time, tying for 83rd, it said.
For the top 10, Stanford maintained second place but MIT dropped from third to fifth, with the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Cambridge each moving up one spot to take third and fourth.
The Shanghai Ranking is consistently largely static at its top levels, and this year nine of the top 20 were in unchanged positions, and another nine moved by only one place.
The biggest change was by Britain's Oxford University, which climbed three spots from 10th to seventh.
Princeton University was sixth again, with another three US institutions -- the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University and the University of Chicago in places eight to 10.
The ranking, which was launched in 2003, has generated controversy in the past for what critics say is stressing science over the humanities in its grading.
According to the statement the rankings use "objective indicators" including the number of staff and alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, and articles published in the journals of "Nature" and "Science," according to a statement.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the University of Tokyo was top at number 20 overall.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich was the highest-ranked entry from continental Europe, in 19th place, while the University of Copenhagen in Denmark -- which came 31st -- overtook France's Pierre and Marie Curie University (39th) as mainland Europe's next best, the statement said.