SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore (NUS) climbed four places to become the world's 21st top university - its highest position - in the latest Times Higher Education rankings.
It rose by four places from 25th place last year, and remains Asia's third-best university.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) edged up one place to rank 46th globally this year. In June, it was ranked first by Times Higher Education in a list of universities set up less than 50 years ago.
This is the first time both NUS and NTU moved up to their best positions after Times Higher Education put in place a new methodology in 2016.
A record 1,662 universities from 99 countries and regions were ranked this year, based on 13 indicators to measure performance in teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
Britain's Oxford University retained its top spot for the sixth straight year.
It was followed by three universities in the United States.
The California Institute of Technology and Harvard University tied for second place, followed by Stanford University in fourth.
Cambridge University in Britain and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States took fifth place as traditional powerhouses from these countries continued to dominate the top 10.
Asian universities continued to improve in the rankings.
For instance, Peking University and Tsinghua University shared 16th place, giving China two spots in the top 20 for the first time.
Mr Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, said the world's elite universities have enjoyed a long period of dominance at the top of the table.
However, there are shifts in the latest rankings suggesting disruption from Asian countries including South Korea and Singapore, he added.
He said: "In the coming years it will be interesting to see whether the US, UK and other world-leading higher education systems can respond to the challenges of Covid-19, including attracting international academic and student talent, and a possibly serious impact on already stretched funding, to hold on to their positions at the very top of the table."
An NUS spokesman said the university's position in the latest rankings is a testimony to the university's talent, and stellar contributions by its community.
She added: "The pandemic has hastened digitisation with a clarion call for universities to transform and innovate to better meet the needs of societies worldwide.
"We remain committed to creating impact in the communities we care for and serve... and to drive innovative solutions to local and global challenges, as evidenced in our research on vaccines and even contact tracing to help safeguard communities during the pandemic."
NTU deputy president and provost Ling San said NTU has climbed 128 places over the last 11 years in the Times Higher Education global rankings.
He said: "NTU has invested immensely in education, research and innovation over the past decade, and our efforts are increasingly being recognised internationally."