The 100 most international universities in the world 2015

World University Rankings data reveal the most outward-looking institutions

January 23, 2015

A university’s international outlook matters. How can an institution expect to attract the very highest calibre of staff and students if it fails to look beyond its own national borders?

Both the diversity of a university’s student body and the extent to which its academics collaborate with international colleagues are signs of how global an institution really is, and these factors are among the 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators that allow Times Higher Education to produce the most comprehensive global university rankings in the world.

Like last year, THE has compiled a list of the top 100 most international universities using the “international outlook” indicator of its World University Rankings methodology. All the institutions that feature in our World University Rankings 2014-15 top 400 have been considered.

This measure considers each institution’s percentage of international staff, its international student numbers and the proportion of its research papers published with a co-author from at least one other country.

Here are the top performers.

100 - 71

Rank (2015)Rank (2014)InstitutionInternational outlook
=100 =94 University of Nottingham 70.6
=100 93 The University of Newcastle 70.6
=98 N/A Rice University 70.8
=98 N/A University College Cork 70.8
97 98 University of Toronto 71.2
96 N/A City University of Hong Kong 71.3
95 N/A Dalhousie University 71.6
94 =99 National University of Ireland, Galway 71.7
=92 73 University of Copenhagen 71.8
=92 81 Deakin University 71.8
=90 N/A Medical University of Vienna 73.1
=90 N/A Bangor University 73.1
=88 N/A University of Macau 73.3
=88 82 University of Portsmouth 73.3
87 96 University of Alberta 73.4
86 72 Newcastle University 73.8
85 88 University of Sheffield 74.8
84 52 University of Hertfordshire 74.9
=82 80 University of York 75.0
=82 =91 University of Reading 75.0
81 =86 University of Birmingham 75.8
80 84 Vienna University of Technology 75.9
79 =66 University of Bath 76.1
78 85 University of East Anglia 76.5
77 =75 University of Bristol 76.6
=75 74 University of Montreal 76.7
=75 68 University of Cape Town 76.7
74 69 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 77.8
73 78 Delft University of Technology 77.9
72 =60 Wageningen University and Research Center 78.7
71 79 University of Glasgow 78.8


70 - 41

Rank (2015)Rank (2014)InstitutionInternational outlook
70 64 McGill University 79.0
69 =62 University of Adelaide 79.3
=67 65 Université Libre de Bruxelles 79.4
=67 58 University College Dublin 79.4
66 =75 University of Liverpool 79.5
65 =62 Monash University 79.6
=63 =66 Technical University of Denmark 79.7
=63 N/A Aston University 79.7
62 71 University of Exeter 79.8
61 =44 University of Waikato 80.3
=58 57 University of Queensland Australia 80.4
=58 70 Durham University 80.4
=58 37 University of Wollongong 80.4
57 =60 University of Bern 80.7
56 56 University of South Australia 80.8
55 50 University of Melbourne 81.3
54 =32 University of Otago 81.5
=52 54 The University of Hong Kong 81.9
=52 N/A École Normale Supérieure, Paris 81.9
51 53 University of Manchester 82.0
50 59 University of Southampton 82.4
49 N/A Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 82.6
48 =39 University of New South Wales 83.5
=46 =32 University of Sydney 83.6
=46 55 University of Sussex 83.6
=44 30 Trinity College Dublin 83.9
=44 48 University of Leicester 83.9
43   KTH Royal Institute of Technology 84.0
42 38 University of Aberdeen 84.1
41 =42 Victoria University of Wellington 84.2


40 - 16

Rank (2015)Rank (2014)InstitutionInternational outlook
=39 46 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 84.3
=39 49 University of Edinburgh 84.3
=37 =39 Birkbeck, University of London 84.4
=37 =34 University of Fribourg 84.4
36 51 Lancaster University 84.7
35 36 University of British Columbia 84.8
34 =34 Université de Lausanne 85.1
33 26 Murdoch University 85.3
32 =42 University of Warwick 85.7
31 =44 University of Essex 86.7
=28 31 University of Zürich 86.9
=28 24 University of Technology, Sydney 86.9
=28 N/A Swinburne University of Technology 86.9
  29 King’s College London 87.0
=25 18 University of Western Australia 87.3
=25 =19 University of Auckland 87.3
24 47 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) 87.4
23 25 University of Cambridge 87.8
22 =19 University of Canterbury 88.2
=20 =19 Queen Mary University of London 88.6
=20 23 Queen’s University Belfast 88.6
19 =15 Brunel University London 88.8
18 =9 Macquarie University 89.2
17 =15 Maastricht University 89.7
16 17 University of St Andrews 90.5


15. University College London (UCL)

University College London

International outlook: 90.6
Rank in 2014: =12
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 22

UCL was established in 1826 to open up education in England to students of any race, class or religion. It was the first university in Britain to admit women on equal terms.

Describing itself as “London’s global university”, the institution has students from 150 countries and boasts an international network of more than 200,000 alumni.


14. University of Oxford

University of Oxford

International outlook: 90.7
Rank in 2014: =12
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 3

Academic staff at this prestigious English university come from almost 100 different countries and territories, while among its 22,000 students the figure stands at more than 140.

The University of Oxford is the oldest institution in the English-speaking world, and has educated 26 British prime ministers, including the incumbent David Cameron.


13. University of Vienna

University of Vienna

International outlook: 91
Rank in 2014: 14
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 182

On 12 March 1365, Duke Rudolph IV founded the University of Vienna, meaning that the Austrian institution is celebrating its 650th anniversary this year.

More than 25,000 of its nearly 92,000 students are classed as international, and the university hosts 2,000 exchange students from all around the world each academic year.


12. Universität Basel

University of Basel

International outlook: 91.2
Rank in 2014: =9
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 75

Founded in 1460, this Swiss university is the oldest in the country. Today it houses Switzerland’s largest library, and can count philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Jaspers among its alumni.


=10. Australian National University

Australian National University

International outlook: 91.3
Rank in 2014: =7
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 45

Based on 145 hectares of parkland in Australia’s capital city, Canberra, ANU can trace its origins back to 1930.

It counts six Nobel laureates among its faculty and alumni, and through its international partnerships it offers students the opportunity to undertake a seven-week internship in the US Congress or spend time studying at a range of locations in Asia.


=10. Curtin University

Robertson Library, Curtin University

International outlook: 91.3
Rank in 2014: N/A
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 351-400

Based in Perth, Western Australia, Curtin boasts Australia’s third largest international student population.

Named after visionary Second World War-era prime minister John Curtin, the institution has more than 50,000 students across nine campuses, including sites in Malaysia and Singapore.

The institution was not eligible for this ranking last year as it did not make the top 400 of our World University Rankings 2013-2014, and makes its debut in the top 10.


9. Nanyang Technological University

Nanyang Technological University

International outlook: 92.5
Rank in 2014: 11
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 61

A research-intensive public university, NTU in Singapore has more than 32,000 undergraduates and postgraduates at its four colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Its medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, was set up jointly with Imperial College London.


8. Imperial College London

Imperial College London

International outlook: 92.7
Rank in 2014: 6
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 9

Founded in 1907, Imperial is a science-based university located in the heart of England’s capital city.

The institution has students from more than 120 different countries, and across all full-time new admissions to Imperial in 2013-14, 64 per cent were from outside the UK.


7. University of Innsbruck

University of Innsbruck

International outlook: 93.4
Rank in 2014: =7
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 201-225

The University of Innsbruck was founded in 1669 and is one of Austria’s oldest universities.

Today, with more than 28,000 students and 4,500 staff, it is western Austria’s largest institution of higher education and research.


6. Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Holloway, University of London

International outlook: 94.4
Rank in 2014: 5
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 118

Royal Holloway is located 19 miles from central London and has more than 8,700 students from more than 100 countries.

Just over 20 per cent of its students are from outside the European Union.


5. École Polytechnique

Entrance to École Polytechnique

International outlook: 94.5
Rank in 2014: 28
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 61

Nicknamed “X”, École Polytechnique is France’s leading engineering school and is located in the suburbs south of Paris.

The institution boasts economists Alfred Sauvy and Jean Tirole among its alumni.


4. National University of Singapore (NUS)

National University of Singapore

International outlook: 94.9
Rank in 2014: 4
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 25

NUS is Singapore’s flagship university, and has 16 faculties and schools across three campus locations.

Established more than a century ago as a medical school with just 23 students, the institution now has more than 37,000 students from 100 countries across the world.


3. ETH Zürich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

International outlook: 96.6
Rank in 2014: =2
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 13

Founded in 1855, ETH Zürich today has more than 18,000 students from over 110 countries, including 3,900 doctoral students.

Albert Einstein received his diploma here in 1901.


2. University of Geneva

University of Geneva

International outlook: 96.8
Rank in 2014: =2
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 107

Founded in 1559, the University of Geneva hosts about 16,000 students from more than 140 different countries, and is Switzerland’s second largest university.

It offers more than 280 types of degrees and more than 250 continuing education programmes.


1. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

International outlook: 98.8
Rank in 2014: 1
Rank in THE World University Rankings 2014-2015: 34

Of the 10,000 students studying at EPFL, 50 per cent are from Switzerland with the other half coming from overseas

Our number one international university boasts more than 250 on-campus laboratories situated in 136 acres on the shores of Lake Geneva.

View the full Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 results

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Reader's comments (11)

THE is rapidly making a mockery of itself with its ridiculous obsession with rankings of all sorts, associated with idiotic methodologies and metrics devised by failed number-crunchers desparate to boost nominal circulation, and hence advertising revenues. What cretin can assert that LSE and Cambridge are less "international" than Brunel and Canterbury ? Give me a break, already ! Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Arrivederci, Sayonara !
Michael - thanks for your comments. We make it clear that this is a sub-set of data from the overall World University Rankings published in October (which include a much wider range of indicators). We publish this list to encourage people to drill down beneath the overall composite scores of the world rankings, and we make clear it is based on just three elements: the proportion of international students, the proportion of international staff and the proportion of research published with an international co-author. It has indeed proven an extremely popular feature, but it does not appear in print, and it is here for free on line, so its publication has nothing to do with boosting our circulation. But it does boost the transparency of the rankings. Very best wishes, Phil
Hi Michael. We've been very clear with what this table represents - it looks at international research collaborations, and proportion of students / staff from other countries. On these measures, the results are as above - it might not be who you'd expect up near the top, but that's why these exercises can be so interesting! Of course our overall rankings take far more criteria into account, and the methodology is available on, along with our main rankings tables.
Thank you Phil and Chris for clarifying a few important key issues. I have visited quite a few Universities, including some highly profiled Universities in USA (Cal), UK, Germany, Netherlands, Swiss and all the Nordic countries. Planning to visit Australian Universities this spring. On several occasions I also had the pleasure to visit both École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich, as well as spending some interesting time with academics in both camps! My impression is that of all Universities i have visited, the Swiss are the most impressive, - very international and professional. The ranking came as no surprise!
The weight given to overseas students is far too large and distorts the rankings.
Tom Cannon - do you work for the UK Home Office per chance ? :-)
Dear Phil and Chris, As a student at Maastricht University, I must question the validity and statistical significance of the metrics that you are using. The reason that I have issue with your findings is that the main measure (presumably) of this international ranking is the proportion of international students. However, in the case of my university, we are located a 30 minute walk from Belgium and a 30 minute bus ride from Germany. I hope that you can see the obvious issue here - a German student studying in Cambridge (for example), will have moved to the UK, whereas one studying in Maastricht will likely still abide in Aachen. Or even if they have moved to Maastricht, it will often be an issue of only a few km (indeed, I believe that at one faculty of my university, 45% of the students are German, hardly 'international'). Therefore, I would like your response as to how you attempt to deal with this issue? Personally, I would like to see the results when neighbouring countries are exempt from international status and/or students who attended school within 100km of the university are also barred from helping the ranking. I would very much be interested to see a ranking of the 'allure' of a university, rather than this meaningless (sorry, but as above, I have my reasons for stating this) ranking as measured by the average distance from a university that a student attended school. In the case of universities who did not show preference to local students, this would in my opinion be a much more interesting measure. Best Wishes, Alex
Hi Alex. I addressed some of your points in a blog I wrote - you can find it here: Our overall World University Rankings are based on a much wider set of criteria than this "international" table. You can find the top 400, and the methodology, at Hope this helps. Chris
Dear Phil and Chris, I have to echo Michael's sentiment, though with less vehemence. The question you should ask yourselves is this: "do these rankings make a constructive contribution to the conversation about universities, or are we misinforming people?" The differences in the universities you rank (here and elsewhere) are, in some cases, so vast that a simple number distorts the picture to the point of absurdity. In other cases, universities that are extremely close in many respects are miles apart in your "numbers." In other instances, universities rocket up or down the rankings with no real explanation as to why. But most importantly, in _all_ cases, these are distinct and complex institutions, each with a unique history and character. They are not Hondas, they are not cheeseburgers, they are not Hollywood starlets. Trying to distil their identity into a single number is both reductive and disrespectful. By furthering the idea that a university's character and quality can be assessed so baldly, you are insulting those who work and study there and deceiving those who are evaluating it from the outside. Worse yet, since you are (intentionally) shaping taste with these rankings, universities are setting their own mileposts in relation to this artificial metric that only tangentially (at best) reflects the quality of research and teaching at the university. Ask yourself this: how would you feel if, as the editor of a magazine on cars, your ranking encouraged a major manufacturer design cars that conformed to your metric better in the short run, but were actually less fuel- efficient, and more dangerous to drive in the long run? This, in effect, is what you are accomplishing. Universities are implementing expensive, short-sighted, and damaging reforms in order to "raise their scores." These changes are, in the long run, harming all those who work and study there. The only ones who benefit are the upper management who have completely taken the false premise of it on board, and can now crow (and gain absurd salary raises) if their institutions climbs the rankings or cavil (and blame staff under-performance) if it drops. US News and World Report, in the name of crass commercialization, started this absurd trend. They will not stop because 1.) the "College Issue" is their best-selling one and 2.) they don't give a tinker's damn what the effect is. THE is doing itself, and higher education, a disservice by jumping on the same bandwagon. I know you hold yourselves to a higher standard and want to make a positive contribution to one of the most important civic conversations under way around the globe--how we should structure and improve our university system, to the benefit of all. So, I ask you once again, please desist. If THE set the example, hopefully the Guardian will follow suit and we can all get back to the vital task of genuinely improving HE and thoughtfully discussing the success or failure of different visions and strategies.
Dear Colleagues, Could you please clarify if exchange and visiting students are counted as the body of international students for the ranking purposes? Thank you in advance! Best regards, Elmira Innopolis University, Russia
Hi Elmira Our definition of international students does include visiting/exchange students who are studying for programmes that result in credits at the relevant institution.

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