For students looking to study overseas and determined to find the very best place to do so, they need to the look to the United States or the UK, which dominate the 2018 university rankings.

For the sixth year running, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tops the QS World University Rankings, followed by Stanford, Harvard and the California Institute of Technology. In ninth place is the University of Chicago.

The UK also features highly in the top 10 with the University of Cambridge in fifth, the University of Oxford in sixth place, University College London in seventh and Imperial College London in eighth.

Although there’s a lack of change at the top, with no new entrants in the global top 10, there are six Chinese universities featuring in the top 100 for the first time and Russian universities have moved up considerably in the 2018 rankings.

According to Ben Sowter, head of division in the QS Intelligence Unit, said that MIT could dominate for some time to come. ‘MIT has a network of successful alumni who make substantial donations to their alma mater and the power these connections grant the university cannot be overestimated,’ he said.

‘Other institutions are scrambling to catch up, but MIT has a 20 year head start so will be pretty difficult to dislodge,’ he added.

But not all universities in North America are doing as well. Lower down the rankings 21 of the top 50 universities in the US and Canada have fallen down the ranking since last year.

The rankings report points out that in recent years, Russian universities have benefited from increased Government funding and a concerted attempt to improve student mobility and that investment looks to be paying off. Of the 24 universities from Russia included in this year’s ranking, only two have fallen compared to last year, while the others have either held firm or made impressive gains on their competition.

Elsewhere in Europe, UK universities struggle for a second straight year although Cambridge, Oxford, University College London and Imperial College all retain places in the top 10.

The report also points out that Brexit could make it harder still for UK universities to make international connections and political changes in France, Germany and other European nations could cause plenty of shifts in the world of higher education in the years ahead.

In China the Zhejiang University and the University of Science and Technology have been ranked in the top 100 and in total, China has nearly 50 universities in this year’s ranking. Elsewhere in Asia, the Nanyang Technological Institute has overtaken the National University of Singapore and is on the cusp of the top 10.

‘The world is changing quickly and rankings will increasingly chart the triumph of younger, more agile universities over their more traditional counterparts, as has happened in Singapore,’ said Sowter.

There is also improvement in universities in less obvious parts of the world. In Latin America, for example, both Argentina and Brazil have seen a flagship university climb the ranking. Argentina’s University of Buenos Aires ranked 75, while the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil is up to 120.

In the Middle East, the top four universities in Saudi Arabia have all improved on last year’s positions. If these performances continue, the need for students to travel abroad to find a good university education may decrease. Even in countries such as Russia and China, there is still work to be done to convince young people they can get a strong education without moving away.

Perhaps the only part of the world which remains under-represented in this year’s rankings is Africa, although the University of Cape Town continues to hold a spot in the top 200. Other African universities may feature lower down the ranking, but there are no signs to suggest a rapid advance up the rankings is on its way.