Based on an opinion survey of leading academics, the ranking asked scholars to name 15 universities that they believe are the best for research and teaching, based on their own experience.
The results were collated in a reputational ranking of the world’s top 100 most powerful global university brands as judged by those best-placed to know, according to THE.
ETH Zurich placed 22nd, behind mostly US and UK universities but ahead of any other institution in continental Europe.
American universities Harvard, MIT and Standford made up the top three ahead of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, which placed joint fourth.
Tokyo University in Japan was the highest non-US/UK institution, placing 11th.
Behind ETH Zurich, Moscow University ranked 30th and Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) 38th.
Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) also made it into the top 50, at 45th.
In its analysis THE said some Asian universities were now considered more prestigious among top academics than many distinguished Western institutions.
Tsinghua University in China jumped into the top 15 for the first time and Peking University made its top 20 debut, both overtaking Cornell University in the US and the UK’s Imperial College London.
By contrast, top universities in Belgium, France and the Netherlands have lost ground, it said.
But there is a disparity between reputation and actual performance, it added, since Asian universities do not appear as highly in the THE World University Rankings, which measure research performance.
ETH Zurich is regularly named among the world’s best universities.
Last September it was crowned the best university in continental Europe and eighth in the world by the QS World University Rankings.
In February ETH Zurich and EPFL were named the world’s most ‘international’ universities in another THE ranking.