04/05/2016 21:02 BST

Times Higher Education World Rankings: Oxford And Cambridge Lose Out To American Rivals

The global challenge could mean the end of 'Anglo-Saxon' higher education.

(Clockwise from top left) Durham, Bristol, have fallen out of the top 100, while Oxford and Cambridge have fallen down the THE World Rankings 2016 compared to a year ago

The global reputation of some of the UK's most prestigious universities is increasingly challenged by the US and Asia, a new influential survey shows.

The Times Higher Education World Rankings 2016 found both Oxford and Cambridge fell two places on 2015 in the face of tough competition from America.

Oxford now ranks fifth best in the world, down from third last year, while Cambridge ranks fourth, down from second.

Imperial College London, University College London, the LSE, University of Edinburgh and King's College London all had a declining reputation compared to a year ago.

Ranked: THE World Rankings Top UK Universities

  • 81-90 - University of Warwick
    81-90 - University of Warwick
    VisitBritain/Britain on View via Getty Images
    2015: 81-90
  • 81-90 - London Business School
    81-90 - London Business School
    2015: 91-100
  • =49 - University of Manchester
    =49 - University of Manchester
    tupungato via Getty Images
    2015: 50
  • 43 - King's College London
    43 - King's College London
    Jonathan McManus via Getty Images
    2015: 31
  • 38 - University of Edinburgh
    38 - University of Edinburgh
    David Cheskin/PA Wire
    2015: 29
  • 24 - London School of Economics
    24 - London School of Economics
    Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
    2015: 22
  • 20 - University College London
    20 - University College London
    Eric Nathan via Getty Images
    2015: 17
  • 15 - Imperial College London
    15 - Imperial College London
    Charles Bowman via Getty Images
    1015: 14
  • 5 - University of Oxford
    5 - University of Oxford
    Getty Images
    2015: 3
  • 4 - University of Cambridge
    4 - University of Cambridge
    M. Ynys-Mon. London. UK. via Getty Images
    2015: 2

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University displaced Oxbridge at the top of the league table.

Meanwhile two British institutions left the top 100 altogether.

Bristol and Durham fell from the ranking amid a surge in the fortunes of Asian institutions.

The continent had 18 universities in the top 100, eight more than a year ago.

Possible reasons for the decline of UK universities include cuts to higher education funding and greater restrictions on immigration.

Phil Baty, Times Higher Education rankings editor, said: "The UK remains the second most-represented nation in this list of the most reputable universities – behind only the US – but it has lost ground this year.

"Perhaps the UK’s continued cuts in higher education funding - Higher Education Funding Council for England received a £150m budget slash this year – and series of immigration measures affecting overseas students and scholars, are starting to have an impact on its global reputation."

Paul Blackmore, professor of higher education at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said Asia’s rising performance is due to a combination of "undoubted growth in university systems" and "of more being known among those giving a view".

Blackmore said: "We’ve had a highly Anglo-Saxon view of higher education for many years and that can’t be sustained for much longer."

However, a spokesperson for the organisation representing institutions, Universities UK, said: “By any international measure, the UK continues to possess, by some margin, one of the strongest university systems in the world. 

“We have the second-strongest university system in the world after the US. We excel at a global level in the quality of our research, in the attractiveness of our courses, and in the quality of our graduates."