The United States colleges topped the  global higher education ranking with 17 of its universities in the top 20 institutions.

Some institutions swapped places in the top 20 but they were all still there except for the University of Tokyo, which slipped a place to make way for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich.

“In continental Europe, ETH Zurich becomes the first university in the region listed among the world top 20 in the history of the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the ranking stated when releasing the results on Thursday.

China had the second largest number of institutions in the top 500 list produced by the Centre for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which began a decade ago. The country once again had 42 universities in the ranking, seven of them in the top 200.

For the  first time Germany had more universities in the ARWU than Britain – 38 – but it had only four in the top 100 against the UK’s nine. The UK once again had two universities in the top 20 and it lost one institution in the top 500, falling from 38 in 2012 to 37 this year.

One more Canadian institution made it into the Shanghai ranking, bringing its total to 23, including four universities in the top 100.

France retained 20 universities in the ARWU, with four in the top 100, while Japan slipped from 21 last year to 20 institutions this year, three of them in the top 100.

Australia had 19 universities in the ranking including five in the top 100 – the same number as Italy, which lost one university from the ranking this year.

The Netherlands lost one university from the ranking (12) as did Spain (10) while Israel (seven), South Korea (11), Saudi Arabia (four) and Portugal (four) each added one university.

By region, Europe had 202 universities in the top 500, the Americas 182, Asia-Oceania 112 and Africa four.

Harvard University topped the list as before, followed by Stanford once again in second place. Next came the University of California, Berkeley, which jumped ahead of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this year. Cambridge was in fifth place followed by Caltech, Princeton, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford.

In the top 100, the ranking said, Pierre and Marie Curie (37) in France overtook Paris-Sud (39) as the second best university in Continental Europe.

“The best ranked universities in the Asia-Pacific region are the University of Tokyo (21) and Kyoto University (26) in Japan, and the University of Melbourne (56) in Australia.”

The University of Groningen (92) in The Netherlands entered the Top 100 list for the first time, and 11 universities broke into the top 500 this year. They included Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the University of Coimbra in Portugal and the Catholic University of Korea, which made their first appearances.