Six Australian universities are among the top 100 in the world, according to the latest Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings.

Australia’s leading universities and their ranks are as follows:

  • University of Melbourne: 33
  • Australian National University: 47
  • University of Queensland: 60
  • University of Sydney: 60
  • Monash University: 74
  • University of NSW: 78
  • University of WA: 125
  • University of Adelaide: 142
  • University of Newcastle: 201-250
  • Queensland University of Technology: 201-250

Oxford was ranked the world's leading university, followed by the California Institute of Technology, Stanford and Cambridge.

The annual table covers 980 universities worldwide, ranking them on teaching, international outlook, research, citations and industry income.

“In general, Australia's leading universities produce highly influential research and are successful at both attracting top international talent and collaborating with scholars from across the world,” said THE world university rankings editor Phil Baty .

He said that the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative launched in 2010 (which began evaluating universities on the quality of their research) appeared to be paying off.

Australia is showing a broadly positive swing, with 24 local institutions either moving up in the rankings or holding their position, while another four universities broke into the rankings for the first time.

But Mr Baty warned Australia would have to compete with the “higher education superpower” of Asia’s universities.

The National University of Singapore is the region’s highest ranking at 24th place.

“Although the notion of Asia as the ‘next higher education superpower’ has become something of a cliche in recent years, the continent's rise in the rankings is real and growing,” Mr Baty said.

“Australia's success at the top of the rankings cannot be guaranteed in the long-term while more of Asia's leading universities soar to join the world elite.”