Best young universities in the world 2018

Explore the 250 best universities under 50 years old using Times Higher Education’s university rankings data

June 6 2018
best young universities

When choosing which university to attend, it can be easy to get distracted by the old guard: those institutions that have been around for centuries, and that dominate the upper echelons of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Names such as OxfordCambridgeHarvard and Princeton spring to mind. 

But there are many more institutions that also deserve your attention. THE’s 2018 Young University Rankings reveal the best universities under 50 years old, assessing them across teaching, research, international outlook and their work with industry. In fact, the ranking was created using the same methodology as the THE World University Rankings, but the weightings were recalibrated to reflect the missions of younger universities. The full methodology can be found here, and you can explore the top 100 universities by scrolling down.

As well as the overall ranking of the top 250 universities under 50, THE has produced three subset rankings: Millennials (universities established between 2000 and the present day), Generation Y (established between 1986 and 1999) and Generation X (established between 1968 and 1985) so you can explore your options if you are looking for a young, innovative place to go to college.

THE has also looked at the best institutions that were founded between 1945 and 1967 – known as a “Golden Age” for public higher education. Being more than 50 years old (although still very young for universities), these institutions fall outside the parameters of the Young University Rankings. However, they are well worth a look if you are interested in some of international higher education’s rising stars. 


Best Young Universities: Millennials, Generation Y and Generation X
Golden Age ranking


Top five universities in the Young University Rankings 2018

Scroll down for the top 100 and a link to the full top 250

1. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology climbs one place from number two in the 2017 ranking to take first place in the 2018 ranking. The university also consistently ranks as one of the best universities in Hong Kong.

As its name suggests, HKUST focuses heavily on providing students with a high-quality education within the realms of science and technology. 

The university was established in 1991. In 2011, it received five State Science and Technology Awards, prestigious prizes conferred by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. 

2. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne is situated in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and specialises in science and engineering. Its campus is on the banks of Lake Geneva and it is powered by hydropower. 

The university has dropped from first place in the 2017 ranking to second in the 2018 hierarchy. 

More than half the students enrolled at the university are international, with about 120 different countries represented on campus. The institution has two official languages, French and English. 

There are fewer than 10,000 students enrolled at the university. EPFL is also highly regarded for its research output in engineering and science, including the Blue Brain Project and the Human Brain Project.  


Student experience at young universities

Life as an international student at EPFL, Switzerland
Life at a Millennial university
Studying at POSTECH, South Korea


3. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 

Not only has Nanyang Technological University been ranked the third-best university under 50 years old, it is also one of the highest-ranked Asian universities in the THE World University Rankings, and it is also considered one of the most beautiful in the world. 

The university’s main garden campus is in Jurong and it also has a site in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

The university has a 25,000-strong student body made up of students from more than 100 nationalities. NTU also has strong ties with many universities across the globe including Imperial College London, Stanford University and Beijing University.

4. Paris Sciences et Lettres - PSL University, France

Paris Sciences et Lettres - PSL University is a collegiate university formed in 2010. It was originally formed of five institutions but has since grown to incorporate 25 self-governing academic and research institutions. It was established with the aim of becoming one of the world’s leading research universities. 

PSL’s main sites are in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The aim of the university is to boost research output from France and it is actively working to become a stronger player in the global higher education sector. 

The university has developed strategic partnerships with New York University, the University of Cambridge, Tsinghua University, and the Israel Institute of Technology among others.

5. Maastricht University, Netherlands

The final university in the top five is Maastricht University in the Netherlands. 

It was established to expand the country’s medical training facilities in order to address the shortage of medical professionals. 

More and more faculties have since been added to cover a wider curriculum including business and economics, law, psychology and neuroscience, arts and social sciences, and science and engineering. 

The intake is made up of students representing more than 100 nationalities and many of the programmes are taught entirely or partly in English. 


The 100 Best Young Universities 2018 

Young University Rank 2018 Young University Rank 2017 University Country/region Foundation year
1 2 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong 1991
2 1 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland 1969
3 3 Nanyang Technological University Singapore 1991
4 NR Paris Sciences & Lettres – PSL University France 2010
5 6 Maastricht University Netherlands 1976
6 5 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea 1971
7 7 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 1984
8 4 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea 1986
9 =9 Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Italy 1987
10 NR University of Alabama at Birmingham United States 1969
11 17 Pompeu Fabra University Spain 1990
12 11 University of Luxembourg Luxembourg 2003
13 18 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain 1968
14 12 Pierre and Marie Curie University France 1971
15 =13 University of Antwerp Belgium 2003
16 15 University of Technology, Sydney Australia 1988
17 NR University of Potsdam Germany 1991
18 20 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong 1994
19 =13 University of Duisburg-Essen Germany 2003
20 24 Queensland University of Technology Australia 1989
21 19 Paris-Sud University France 1971
22 27 Aalto University Finland 2010
23 NR Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Italy 1996
24 NR Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 2009
25 23 Aalborg University Denmark 1974
26 32 University of South Australia Australia 1991
27 NR University of Passau Germany 1978
28 38 James Cook University Australia 1970
29 22 Bielefeld University Germany 1969
30 29 University of Bayreuth Germany 1975
31 21 University of Texas at Dallas United States 1969
32 30 University of Wollongong Australia 1975
33 =92 Paris-Sorbonne University – Paris 4 France 1971
34 41 University of Bremen Germany 1971
35 31 Paris Diderot University – Paris 7 France 1970
36 =36 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden 1977
37 35 Griffith University Australia 1971
38 NR Medical University of Vienna Austria 2004
39 45 TU Dortmund University Germany 1968
40 =36 Koç University Turkey 1993
=41 26 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 1993
=41 NR Medical University of Graz Austria 2004
=43 34 Charles Darwin University Australia 2003
=43 54 University of Eastern Finland Finland 1969
=43 44 Sabancı University Turkey 1996
46 =52 Grenoble Alpes University France 2016
=47 50 Aix-Marseille University France 1970
=47 NR Brighton and Sussex Medical School United Kingdom 2002
49 NR Khalifa University of Science and Technology United Arab Emirates 2007
50 43 Deakin University Australia 1974
=51 =47 George Mason University United States 1972
=51 33 Rush University United States 1972
=53 42 Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Italy 1997
=53 =56 Victoria University Australia 1990
55 NR Babol Noshirvani University of Technology Iran 1970
56 =47 University of Bordeaux France 2014
57 59 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan 1974
58 91 University of Canberra Australia 1990
59 88 Cyprus University of Technology Cyprus 2004
60 67 University of Macau Macao 1981
61 63 Montpellier University France 2015
=62 58 University of Crete Greece 1973
=62 =76 Örebro University Sweden 1999
64 =52 University of Cyprus Cyprus 1989
=65 61 Swinburne University of Technology Australia 1992
=65 NR Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines France 1991
67 NR Hamburg University of Technology Germany 1978
68 84 Curtin University Australia 1987
=69 55 University of Milan-Bicocca Italy 1998
=69 71 University of Salerno Italy 1968
71 =79 Western Sydney University Australia 1989
72 =68 University of Siegen Germany 1972
=73 66 Autonomous University of Madrid Spain 1968
=73 NR University of Côte d’Azur France 2015
=73 60 Linköping University Sweden 1975
=73 =68 Murdoch University Australia 1973
=73 =68 University of Texas at San Antonio United States 1969
=78 72 Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées France 2014
=78 =76 University of Rovira i Virgili Spain 1991
=80 =74 Dublin City University Republic of Ireland 1989
=80 49 Maynooth University Republic of Ireland 1997
82 62 University of Kaiserslautern Germany 1970
83 NR University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa 2004
=84 73 Hasselt University Belgium 1973
=84 96 Higher School of Economics Russian Federation 1992
86 65 University of Plymouth United Kingdom 1992
87 101-150 Qatar University Qatar 1973
88 =81 Verona University Italy 1982
89 NR Reykjavík University Iceland 1998
90 51 University of Calabria Italy 1972
91 =76 Bilkent University Turkey 1984
92 =92 University of Rome II – Tor Vergata Italy 1982
93 40 CentraleSupélec France 2015
=94 94 University of Bergamo Italy 1968
=94 85 Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 France 1971
=94 =79 University of Tsukuba Japan 1973
97 101-150 Roskilde University Denmark 1972
98 101-150 Southern Cross University Australia 1994
99 89 Florida International University United States 1972
100 87 RMIT University Australia 1992

See the full Young University Rankings 2018 here 

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