Untied States universities dominate the Times Higher Education global rankings for 2012-13, occupying seven of the top 10 spots, but Asian institutions are on the rise while only four Latin American figure among the best 400.
The rankings show the California Institute of Technology retained number one position, but Harvard University dropped to four (it was equal second with Stanford University last year) and the University of Oxford and Stanford shared second place.
The top 10 group was largely stable, including, as it did last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago.
The same set of institutions also made up the top 30, with the addition of the University of Melbourne, moving to 28 from 37 last year, and the National University of Singapore moving to 29 from 40.
The University of Wisconsin Madison and McGill University dropped from 27 and 28 respectively, to 31 and 34.
However Latin America’s performance seems disastrous. With Brazil’s economy ranked sixth and Mexico’s fourteenth, there is not a single university from the region among the top 100 and only four among the 400 best.
The university best positioned is Sao Paulo University in Brazil ranked 158. Campinhas University, also Brazilian, figures between position 251 and 275, while the Andes University, Colombia and the National Autonomous University from Mexico rank in the last leg: from 351 to 400.
There are no universities from Argentina, Chile, Peru or Venezuela among the 400 best ranked. This compares with the 22 Asian among the top 200 and 56 among the 400 best.
Times Higher Education rankings editor, Phil Baty said the top institutions of Asia, in China, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea were ”marching up the global rankings''.
While the US had 76 in the top 200, 51 of its universities had dropped in ranking. He also pointed to the average sector change in rankings, which for the US was a fall of 6.5 places, and for the UK a fall of 6.7 places.
He compared this to rises for the Netherlands (27.8) South Korea (23.5) and Denmark (14.3).
The story of the rankings is that America, Britain, and parts of Europe and Canada have seen significant falls, whereas right across East Asia we have seen significant rises'' Mr Baty said.
The rankings are the final in a set of three annual global league tables the sector widely anticipates. The Academic Ranking of World Universities and QS rankings also published in the past six weeks.
Rankings expert, Griffith University deputy director of research Tony Sheil said irrespective of the methodology used, all three major world university rankings now point to a measurable rise in quality of top institutions in China, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea and a gradual relative decline in the US, Japan and Europe.''
However while there is undoubtedly a higher education power shift of sorts going on, it is questionable whether any method is sophisticated enough to measure annual movement in the way presented by the rankings'', Mr Sheil said.
He said while the ranking showed the US and UK losing ground the top 200 was still dominated by leading US universities and there were also 31 from the UK.
In fact, 182 of the top 200 institutions listed are located outside of Asia,'' he said.
The Times Higher Education rankings are derived from weighted criteria including industry income and innovation, a reputation survey of more than 16,000 academics, PhDs awarded and the number of citations for an institution's scholarly papers.