Best young universities in the world 2020

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

June 24 2020
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 many more institutions also deserve your attention. THE’s 2020 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 400+ universities under 50, THE has produced a subset ranking: millennials (universities established between 2000 and the present day). 

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
Best ‘Golden Age’ universities 


Top five universities in the Young University Rankings 2020

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

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

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology retains the top position in the ranking from last year. 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. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 

Not only has Nanyang Technological University, Singapore been ranked the second-best university under 50 years old, it is one of the highest ranked Asian universities in the THE World University Rankings and is 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 from more than 100 nations. NTU also has strong ties with many universities across the globe, including Imperial College London, Stanford University and Peking University.


Student experience at young universities

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


3. Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris, France

Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris 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 Technion Israel Institute of Technology, among others.

4. Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa, Italy

The Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies is a small university in Italy specialising in applied sciences. The university was established in 1987.

The university has a rigorous admissions process, with prospective students all expected to demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages and high marks in the university’s admissions exam. 

Courses are offered from undergraduate to postgraduate level. There are a number of research institutes and laboratories attached to the university. 

5. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) was established in 1971 and has since developed to become a leading institution in South Korea. 

KAIST consists of two major campuses situated in Daejeon and South Korea’s capital, Seoul. Courses range from undergraduate to postgraduate and are delivered across six colleges and two schools, with over 33 divisions.

The university has developed partnerships with many international institutions in the US, UK, Denmark and Germany among others. 


The 100 best young universities 2020

Young University Rank 2020 Young University Rank 2019 University Country/region Foundation year
1 1 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong 1991
2 3 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore 1991
3 4 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France 2010
4 7 Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Italy 1987
5 6 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea 1971
6 10 Maastricht University Netherlands 1976
7 5 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 1984
8 8 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea 1986
9 9 Sorbonne University France 2018
10 11 Pompeu Fabra University Spain 1990
11 NR University of Paris France 2019
12 17 University of Luxembourg Luxembourg 2003
13 22 University of Antwerp Belgium 2003
14 =24 Queensland University of Technology Australia 1989
15 13 University of Technology Sydney Australia 1988
16 14 University of Duisburg-Essen Germany 2003
17 =20 Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) South Korea 2009
18 34 University of Canberra Australia 1990
19 15 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong 1994
20 =18 Aalto University Finland 2010
21 23 Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Italy 1996
22 16 University of Passau Germany 1978
23 =18 Aalborg University Denmark 1974
24 30 Medical University of Graz Austria 2004
25 =26 University of South Australia Australia 1991
26 29 University of Wollongong Australia 1975
27 32 Medical University of Vienna Austria 2004
28 =24 University of Potsdam Germany 1991
29 33 James Cook University Australia 1970
30 35 Griffith University Australia 1971
=31 43 Alfaisal University Saudi Arabia 2002
=31 31 Paris-Sud University France 1971
33 =26 Jacobs University Germany 1998
=34 =55 Curtin University Australia 1987
=34 NR Tampere University Finland 2019
=36 NR Medical University of Innsbruck Austria 2004
=36 58 Western Sydney University Australia 1989
38 NR Macau University of Science and Technology Macao 2000
39 47 George Mason University United States 1972
40 51 Auckland University of Technology New Zealand 2000
41 =60 HSE University Russian Federation 1992
42 =52 University of Macau Macao 1981
43 50 Maynooth University Republic of Ireland 1997
44 =36 Brighton and Sussex Medical School United Kingdom 2002
45 =36 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden 1977
46 65 Hasselt University Belgium 1973
=47 38 Khalifa University United Arab Emirates 2007
=47 =55 Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) China 2012
49 41 University of Bremen Germany 1971
50 =70 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates 1976
51 40 University of Bayreuth Germany 1975
=52 NR University of Klagenfurt Austria 1970
=52 =60 Rush University United States 1972
54 NR Università della Svizzera Italiana Switzerland 1996
55 =63 Deakin University Australia 1974
56 45 Victoria University Australia 1990
=57 =63 Cyprus University of Technology Cyprus 2004
=57 44 Grenoble Alpes University France 2016
=59 =55 Aix-Marseille University France 2012
=59 59 IMT Atlantique France 2017
=59 =52 Reykjavík University Iceland 1998
=62 NR Indian Institute of Technology Ropar India 2008
=62 81 Swinburne University of Technology Australia 1992
64 68 Indian Institute of Technology Indore India 2009
=65 =60 University of California, Merced United States 2005
=65 =52 Montpellier University France 2015
=65 42 Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines France 1991
68 46 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 1993
69 48 Sabancı University Turkey 1996
70 95 Australian Catholic University Australia 1991
71 =85 University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa 2004
72 69 Centrale Nantes France 1993
73 =79 Qatar University Qatar 1973
74 66 Babol Noshirvani University of Technology Iran 1970
75 =74 Örebro University Sweden 1999
=76 76 University of Crete Greece 1973
=76 =98 RMIT University Australia 1992
78 NR Universiti Brunei Darussalam Brunei Darussalam 1985
79 NR University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan Japan 1977
80 97 Northumbria University United Kingdom 1992
81 73 Linköping University Sweden 1975
82 =74 University of Côte d’Azur France 2015
83 82 University of Milan-Bicocca Italy 1998
84 67 University of Cyprus Cyprus 1989
85 91 Jordan University of Science and Technology Jordan 1986
=86 =87 University of Bordeaux France 2014
=86 =87 Polytechnic University of Bari Italy 1990
88 NR Cankaya University Turkey 1997
89 89 Murdoch University Australia 1973
=90 =70 Koç University Turkey 1993
=90 =79 Middlesex University United Kingdom 1992
92 NR Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong 1986
=93 101–150 Edith Cowan University Australia 1991
=93 72 Verona University Italy 1982
=95 101–150 Bournemouth University United Kingdom 1992
=95 93 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan 1974
97 101–150 Bond University Australia 1989
98 77 Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Italy 1997
=99 101–150 Diego Portales University Chile 1982
=99 101–150 Florida International University United States 1972
=99 101–150 Liverpool John Moores University United Kingdom 1992

See the full Young University Rankings 2020 here 

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