A phenomenon I discussed before on the blog.
I also wonder whether this is not just an effect of globalization and a Dunbar number for universities. Maybe there are only 100 universities that can be well-known. When our worlds were our individual countries this meant that all sorts of small quaint universities could thrive in their niches. Nowadays, when our world is the world, there simply isn’t enough mental room for all of those.
(This might apply to the US as well. Many of the small liberal-arts colleges that used to get respect might find it harder to keep up.)