SHANGHAI-US universities retained their dominance in an annual Chinese ranking of the world’s top academic institutions, with Harvard staying number one for the 15th straight year.

In a top 10, little changed from last year, Stanford held on to the second spot in the “Academic Ranking of World Universities” compiled by the independent Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, which has ranked the top 500 institutions each year since 2003.

A statement accompanying this year’s results said the rankings were based on a range of indicators including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, and papers published in the journals “Nature” and “Science”. The University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology each moved up a slot to take third and fourth as the University of California at Berkeley dropped two rungs to fifth position. Princeton, Oxford, Columbia, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago rounded out the top 10. China’s prestigious Tsinghua University was one of the biggest upward movers, climbing 10 spots to number 48, entering the top 50 for the first time.

The highest-ranked Asian institution remained Tokyo University at 24th, though it was down four spots as other schools moved up, such as Washington University of St. Louis, which moved to 20th, its highest showing yet.

The ranking is consistently largely static at its top levels.

The list has generated controversy in the past for what critics say is stressing science over the humanities.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich remained the highest-ranked entry from continental Europe, holding on to 19th place, while the University of Copenhagen in Denmark moved up one slot to 30th.