THREE universities in the North-East and North Yorkshire have been placed on a list of the world's leading academic institutions.

Durham University dropped from 96th last year to 97th place in the latest annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, while 137 University of York fell from 129th to 137th.

Newcastle University rose 15 places to claim 175th spot.

The rankings, which include 1,000 universities around the world, rank institutions on 12 measures grouped into five areas - teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income.

Oxford held on to first place in the rankings, with Cambridge rising from fourth place to take second. It is the first time that the two prestigious institutions have taken the top two spots in the 13-year history of the rankings.

Phil Baty, editorial director of the THE global rankings, said UK higher education is facing "intense political pressure", but that the data shows that the nation has "many of the very best universities in the world".