Best young universities in the world 2017

Explore the 200 best universities under 50 years old using Times Higher Education’s university rankings data

April 5 2017
best young universities

Browse the full Young University Rankings 2017 results


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 who dominate the upper echelons of the World University Rankings (names such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Princeton spring to mind). 

But there are many more institutions out there that also deserve your attention, and Times Higher Education's 2017 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 used for the World University Rankings, but the weightings were recalibrated to reflect missions of younger universities. The full methodology can be found here, and you can find the results by scrolling down.

As well as the overall ranking of the top 200 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 1967 and 1985) to really help you explore your options if you're looking for a young, innovative place to go to college.

THE has also looked at the best institutions that were founded between 1945 and 1966 – known as a “golden age” for public higher education. Being more than 50 years old (although still very young in terms of universities), these institutions fall outside the Young University Rankings parameters. 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
The Golden Age Ranking


The top five universities in the Young University Rankings 2017

Scroll down for the top 100 and a link to the full top 200

1. 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 sits on the banks of Lake Geneva and is powered entirely by electricity produced by hydropower. 

The university has maintained its first place position from the 2016 Young University Rankings, achieving impressive results across teaching, research and industry research. 

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 spread across six subject areas. EPFL is also highly regarded for its research output in engineering and science, including the Blue Brain Project and the Human Brain Project, attempting to reconstruct mammalian and human brains digitally.  


Life as an international student at EPFL, Switzerland


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

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology climbs one place from number three in the 2016 Young University Rankings to take the second position in 2017. 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, a prestigious award in science and technology conferred by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. 

3. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 

Not only has Nanyang Technological University been ranked as the third best university under 50 years old, it has also been included in a list of 15 universities with the most beautiful campuses. 

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

The campuses are home to more than 100 nationalities, making up the 25,000-strong student body. NTU also has strong ties with many universities across the globe including Imperial College London, Stanford University and Beijing University.

4. Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) is very selective about the students it admits. Only 320 students are admitted every year through a rigorous selection process.

The university ranks within the top 10 in Asia and just outside the top 100 in the overall World University Rankings (104th). It also ranks as one of the best small universities in the world

POSTECH is primarily bilingual; academic degree programmes are delivered in English, and all official university meetings, events, activities, documents and announcements are in both English and Korean.

The university focuses on science and technology education, loosely modelled on the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). 


Studying at POSTECH, South Korea


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

The final university rounding off the top five is yet another specialist science and technology university in South Korea. KAIST has two campuses in Daejeon and one in Seoul. Between the two campuses there are 25 dormitories, four libraries and a medical centre. 

The university has established itself as a leading institution in science and technology research in Korea, with many engineers, mathematicians and scientists included in its alumni. 

However, the university aims to ensure that the students engage in cultural ventures outside their studies by organising traditional opera and jazz recitals. 


The 100 best Young Universities 2017 

Under 50 ranking Institution Country Foundation Year
1 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland 1969
2 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong 1991
3 Nanyang Technological University Singapore 1991
4 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea 1986
5 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea 1971
6 Maastricht University Netherlands 1976
7 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 1984
8 Ulm University Germany 1967
=9 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany 2009
=9 Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Italy 1987
11 University of Luxembourg Luxembourg 2003
12 Pierre and Marie Curie University France 1971
=13 University of Antwerp Belgium 2003
=13 University of Duisburg-Essen Germany 2003
15 University of Technology Sydney Australia 1988
16 University of Dundee United Kingdom 1967
17 Pompeu Fabra University Spain 1990
18 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain 1968
19 Paris-Sud University France 1971
20 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong 1994
21 University of Texas at Dallas United States 1969
22 Bielefeld University Germany 1969
23 Aalborg University Denmark 1974
24 Queensland University of Technology Australia 1989
25 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia 1967
26 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 1993
27 Aalto University Finland 2010
28 Paris Descartes University France 1971
29 University of Bayreuth Germany 1975
30 University of Wollongong Australia 1975
31 Paris Diderot University – Paris 7 France 1970
32 University of South Australia Australia 1991
33 Rush University United States 1972
34 Charles Darwin University Australia 1989
35 Griffith University Australia 1971
=36 Koç University Turkey 1993
=36 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden 1977
38 James Cook University Australia 1970
39 Central European University Hungary 1991
40 CentraleSupélec France 2015
41 University of Bremen Germany 1971
42 Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Italy 1997
43 Deakin University Australia 1974
44 Sabancı University Turkey 1996
45 Technical University of Dortmund Germany 1968
46 University of Stirling United Kingdom 1967
=47 University of Bordeaux France 2014
=47 George Mason University United States 1972
49 National University of Ireland, Maynooth Ireland 1997
50 Aix-Marseille University France 2012
51 University of Calabria Italy 1972
=52 University of Cyprus Cyprus 1989
=52 Grenoble Alpes University France 2016
54 University of Eastern Finland Finland 1969
55 University of Milan-Bicocca Italy 1998
=56 La Trobe University Australia 1967
=56 Victoria University Australia 1990
58 University of Crete Greece 1973
59 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan 1974
60 Linköping University Sweden 1975
61 Swinburne University of Technology Australia 1992
62 University of Kaiserslautern Germany 1970
63 Montpellier University France 2015
64 Toyota Technological Institute Japan 1981
65 Plymouth University United Kingdom 1992
66 Autonomous University of Madrid Spain 1968
67 University of Macau Macao 1981
=68 Murdoch University Australia 1973
=68 University of Siegen Germany 1972
=68 University of Texas at San Antonio United States 1969
71 University of Salerno Italy 1968
72 Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées France 2014
73 Hasselt University Belgium 1973
=74 Dublin City University Ireland 1989
=74 Veltech University India 1997
=76 Bilkent University Turkey 1984
=76 Örebro University Sweden 1999
=76 University of Rovira i Virgili Spain 1991
=79 University of Tsukuba Japan 1973
=79 Western Sydney University Australia 1989
=81 University of Aveiro Portugal 1973
=81 University of Rome III Italy 1992
=81 Verona University Italy 1982
84 Curtin University Australia 1987
85 Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 France 1971
86 UiT The Arctic University of Norway Norway 1968
87 RMIT University Australia 1992
88 Cyprus University of Technology Cyprus 2004
89 Florida International University United States 1972
90 Central Queensland University Australia 1971
91 University of Canberra Australia 1990
=92 Paris-Sorbonne University – Paris 4 France 1971
=92 University of Rome II – Tor Vergata Italy 1982
94 University of Bergamo Italy 1968
95 University of Brescia Italy 1982
96 Higher School of Economics Russian Federation 1992
97 Université du Québec à Montréal Canada 1969
=98 Atılım University Turkey 1996
=98 University of Portsmouth United Kingdom 1992
100 Tokyo Metropolitan University Japan 2005

Access the fully searchable top 200

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