Four of the top 10 are British and the rest American. Harvard is top and Yale, Oxford and Cambridge joint second.
University College London breaks into the top 10 for the first time and Imperial College London rises to fifth.
The annual survey by the Times Higher Education Supplement and careers and education group QS ranks according to factors including academics’ opinions.
University College London rose from 25th position last year to ninth.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was joint fourth last year but falls to 10th place, while Stanford falls from sixth position to 19th.
Another US university which tumbles in the rankings is the University of California, Berkeley. It was rated eighth last year but drops to 22nd place this year.
The rankings are based on a number of factors including the opinions of academics and of companies employing graduates, international student and staff numbers, and research.
The managing director of QS, Nunzio Quacquarelli, said the rankings recognised the quality of education that UK universities offer.
He said: “In an environment of increasing student mobility, the UK is putting itself forward as a top choice for students worldwide.
They are taking a closer look at the quality of faculty, international diversity and, of course, the education they will receive there.”
Asian universities improved their standing but European institutions outside of the UK fell back, the survey said.
Last year there were 41 European universities in the top 100, but in this year’s table there are 35.
The president of Universities UK, Professor Rick Trainor, said: “As this table shows, the world standing of UK higher education is at the very top.
“This is due to the high quality of our research and teaching.
“Our competitors are increasingly marketing themselves more aggressively so it is vital that the UK remains among the foremost destinations for international students and staff.”
The Top 10 in full is:
1 Harvard University (US)
2 University of Cambridge (UK)
2 University of Oxford (UK)
2 Yale University (US)
5 Imperial College London (UK)
6 Princeton University (US)
7 California Institute of Technology (US)
7 University of Chicago (US)
9 University College London (UK)
10 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
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