The higher education world is getting smaller as more and more students are choosing to study abroad. Students are looking to universities to provide an international experience, the opportunity to study alongside students from all over the world, and to give them a truly global higher education community in which to study.
As part of the data collected for the World University Rankings, Times Higher Education asks all institutions to provide figures on the percentage of international students they have. THE has extracted these data and compiled a list of the top 200 universities.
Three of the universities featured in the top five were founded in the past 30 years – perhaps suggesting that younger universities are more appealing to international students.
Sixteen universities from London feature in the top 200, making it one of the most represented cities in the ranking. In fact, the UK as a whole was the most represented country with 72 universities present in the top 200 in total, compared with 27 from the US and 22 in Australia.
The top five universities with the highest percentage of international students 2017
Scroll down to see the top 200
1. American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
The American University of Sharjah is a relatively small university with just over 5,000 students, and 84 per cent of this student body is made up of international students. Some 99 countries are represented on campus, and some of the main home countries of these students are the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and India.
According to Linda C. Angell, director of international exchange programmes at AUS, the institution welcomes 25 to 50 study abroad students every year and “these students consistently report they have had an excellent experience here”.
Dr Angell believes that the university has a high proportion of international students because of its central location in the world, making international travel easy, and its proximity to cosmopolitan Dubai and culturally rich Sharjah.
English is the main teaching language and the university offers 26 majors and 45 minors at undergraduate level, and 13 master’s degree programmes.
The university is part of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities, an organisation which delivers higher education based on the American liberal arts model outside the US.
2. Central European University, Hungary
Central European University is an English-language university based in Budapest, Hungary. CEU students come to the university from over 100 countries across five continents.
The university is accredited in both the United States and Hungary and offers courses in the social sciences, the humanities, law, management and public policy. It has a female-to-male student ratio of 51:49.
CEU alumni are just as far-reaching internationally as the student body, with some 13,887 alumni spanning 133 countries.
The university hosts a number of festivals that reflect the diverse student population, such as the Intercultural Festival, the Spring Ball and the annual community picnic.
LSE is a world-renowned hub for international students, with students enrolling from more than 140 countries. It has international partnerships with Columbia University in New York, Sciences Po in Paris, Peking University in Beijing, the National University of Singapore and the University of Cape Town.
LSE has ranked in the top 30 universities in the world for the past five years and is highly regarded globally as a social science university specialising in a wide range of disciplines, including economics, politics, sociology, law and anthropology.
Alumni from LSE comprise more than 136,000 people from almost 200 countries, and include 16 Nobel prizewinners and 37 past or present world leaders.
Canadian student Matt Campbell said that he has made friends with students from dozens of other countries. “Having such an international peer group at the LSE has been a great advantage (not to mention great fun). Perhaps what unites us most is the great British tradition of getting together with colleagues at the end of the week for pints at the pub,” he said.
LSE students speak to THE about studying in London
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is the oldest university in the top five, having been established in 1784.
The university provides a comprehensive education within medicine, pharmacy and physiotherapy. The university is a relatively small one with just over 2,000 students enrolled, and about 62 per cent of the students are classed as international students. At the Dublin campus the students come from approximately 70 different countries.
The college provides both undergraduate courses as well as postgraduate education and professional training. The university also has a well-renowned research institute.
The university strengthens its international ties by encouraging the students to take part in volunteer activities in developing countries and by developing a strong presence in Malaysia, Bahrain and Dubai with plans to develop even further internationally.
In 1886, the university was the first to have a female medical graduate.
5. University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
The University of Luxembourg aims to provide a multilingual learning experience, with many of the degree programmes delivered in either English and French or German and French. Master’s degrees are taught entirely in English. This reflects the high percentage of international students, with 55 per cent of the students attending from Europe and beyond.
A semester abroad is compulsory for all undergraduate students and there are many exchange opportunities also available for master’s and PhD students. Joint supervision of theses may also be possible in collaboration with a university abroad.
Heidi Flinkman, a Finnish student studying at the University of Luxembourg, initally went to the institution as an exchange student, but enjoyed it so much that she decided to stay and complete her degree there. “As the university is highly international there are students and staff from many different countries and linguistic backgrounds, so it is easy to feel at home,” she said.
Resources for international students
Cheapest UK universities for international students: tuition fees survey
Survival guide for international students: your first 168 hours in the United States
A guide to university rankings for international students
Top 10 scenic locations to study abroad
Five reasons why you should study in China
How to write a US college admissions essay
Applying through Ucas as an international student
A guide to UK tuition fees and student visas
A guide for international students choosing a university in Australia
The top 200 universities for international students 2017