Most international universities in the world

Explore the most international universities in the world using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

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January 28 2021

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Prospective students looking to study in the most international environments in the world should apply to universities in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore or the UK. 

Universities, by their nature, are global institutions. Typically, they are home to communities of students and scholars from all over the world, and they tackle some of the globe’s most pressing problems through research.

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This table, compiled using the international student score, international staff score, international co-authorship score and international reputation metrics collected for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, shows that the above four countries are home to the some of the most international universities in the world.

These institutions all have a high proportion of international students and staff, collaborate on research with scholars from across the world, and have a strong global reputation to match. Read the full methodology at the bottom of the page. 

Research suggests that diverse communities of students improve the teaching and learning experience, while opportunities for students to spend time abroad better prepare them to become global citizens.


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Top five most international universities in the world

1. University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong has embarked on a mission to become “Asia’s global university”, which includes the goal of giving all its undergraduates two opportunities to study outside Hong Kong during their degree by 2022.

Overall, this Hong Kong university has more than 30,000 students, of which more than 35 per cent are international.

Teaching at the institution is in English and education has an international focus, with the aim of preparing students to become global citizens who could be successful anywhere in the world.

2. ETH Zurich

It is no surprise that Switzerland is home to some of the most international universities in the world, given its situation in the heart of Europe, surrounded by France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. 

ETH Zurich is located in Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, which is known for being very safe (although expensive). The main spoken language is Swiss German, but the university also offers courses in English.

The institution has more than 22,000 students from over 120 countries and is the top university in continental Europe. 

The university focuses on teaching and research in the STEM subjects, and 21 Nobel prizes have been awarded to students and teachers connected to the institution. One of the most famous alumni is Albert Einstein.

3. Chinese University of Hong Kong

Students from more than 50 countries study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

The university has exchange partnerships with more than 282 institutions in 36 countries and regions. Some 6,000 students study abroad or take part in a learning abroad programme or internship.


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4. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is not only the top university in the world, it also happens to be one of the most international. 

Over a third of students at the University of Oxford are international students coming from 160 countries and territories. In fact, international students have been attending the University of Oxford for hundreds of years, with the first international student arriving way back in 1190.

 Almost half of the staff at the university are also international and the institution has links with many other institutions worldwide. 

Prospective international students can listen to the university’s International Students podcast, which talks you through academic and social aspects of being at Oxford. 

5. Imperial College London

Imperial College London focuses teaching and learning around science, engineering, medicine and business. 

More than 60 per cent of students are international, with undergraduates coming from over 125 countries. 

Clubs and support services with an international focus at Imperial College include International Medical Careers and the Indian National Student Association. 


Most international universities in the world 2021

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2021 profile

International Rank 2021 International Rank 2020 World University Rank 2021 University  Country/region
1 2 39 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
2 3 14 ETH Zurich Switzerland
3 5 56 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
4 7 1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
5 6 11 Imperial College London United Kingdom
6 7 25 National University of Singapore Singapore
7 9 6 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
8 17 155 Trinity College
Dublin
Republic of Ireland
9 10 47 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
10 12 16 UCL United Kingdom
11 13 164 University of Vienna Austria
12 NR 78 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
13 11 35 King’s College London United Kingdom
14 13 147 University of Auckland New Zealand
15 16 59 Australian National University Australia
15 15 27 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
17 18 34 University of British Columbia Canada
18 19 30 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
19 20 73 University of Zurich Switzerland
20 23 77 University of Warwick United Kingdom
21 22 67 UNSW Sydney Australia
22 24 40 McGill University Canada
23 25 51 University of Manchester United Kingdom
23 21 31 University of Melbourne Australia
25 30 149 Durham University United Kingdom
26 28 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
27 26 62 The University of Queensland Australia
28 36 66 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
29 30 84 University of Copenhagen Denmark
30 33 18 University of Toronto Canada
31 29 64 Monash University Australia
32 27 51 University of Sydney Australia
33 32 87 École Polytechnique France
34 NR 80 University of Groningen Netherlands
35 37 201–250 Aalto University Finland
36 38 70 Leiden University Netherlands
37 39 4 California Institute of Technology United States
38 NR 69 McMaster University Canada
39 39 155 University of Cape Town South Africa
40 NR 103 Lund University Sweden
41 43 127 University of Oslo Norway
41 42 2 Stanford University United States
43 46 3 Harvard University United States
43 41 9 Princeton University United States
45 45 106 Aarhus University Denmark
46 62 75 Utrecht University Netherlands
47 44 28 Carnegie Mellon University United States
47 48 17 Columbia University United States
49 47 45 KU Leuven Belgium
50 49 38 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
51 53 111 Uppsala University Sweden
52 55 116 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
53 NR 183 Stockholm University Sweden
54 58 301–350 University of Malaya Malaysia
55 49 46 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
56 51 118 Free University of Berlin Germany
57 56 7 University of California, Berkeley United States
58 60 12 Johns Hopkins University United States
59 54 19 Cornell University United States
60 52 10 The University of Chicago United States
61 61 41 Technical University of Munich Germany
62 58 94 Purdue University West Lafayette United States
63 64 124 Rice University United States
64 57 80 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
64 NR 401–500 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel
66 65 8 Yale University United States
67 66 98 University of California, Irvine United States
68 72 26 New York University United States
69 69 68 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
70 67 87 Sorbonne University France
71 63 42 Heidelberg University Germany
71 68 201–250 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
73 73 54 Boston University United States
74 76 64 University of California, Davis United States
75 73 15 University of California, Los Angeles United States
75 70 32 LMU Munich Germany
77 71 103 Ghent University Belgium
78 NR 78 University of Tübingen Germany
79 NR 401–500 Charles University in Prague Czech Republic
79 NR 136 University of Paris France
81 80 13 University of Pennsylvania United States
82 78 33 University of California, San Diego United States
83 82 98 University of Helsinki Finland
84 89 20 Duke University United States
85 75 53 University of Southern California United States
88 85 201–250 University of Massachusetts United States
86 83 114 University of Bonn Germany
86 78 105 Michigan State University United States
88 88 61 Brown University United States
90 87 107 RWTH Aachen University Germany
91 NR 198 University of Barcelona Spain
92 83 24 Northwestern University United States
93 80 201–250 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
94 91 184 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
95 104 174 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
95 95 301–350 North Carolina State University United States
97 90 191 Tel Aviv University Israel
99 93 80 Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
100 112 101 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
101 98 22 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
102 97 85 Emory University United States
98 94 29 University of Washington United States
103 100 167 University of Bologna Italy
105 96 48 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
111 98 166 Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
103 102 197 Texas A&M University United States
106 107 50 Washington University in St Louis United States
107 103 501–600 Tomsk State University Russian Federation
107 101 201–250 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
109 108 801–1000 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
109 104 170 University of Notre Dame United States
113 109 23 Peking University China
112 106 140 Indiana University United States
114 110 94 Zhejiang University China
115 113 131 University of Colorado Boulder United States
115 115 187 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
117 114 201–250 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
118 NR 401–500 National Research Nuclear University MEPhI Russian Federation
118 117 49 University of Wisconsin -Madison United States
120 110 114 Penn State (Main campus) United States
121 119 201–250 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) Russian Federation
122 NR 401–500 Tongji University China
123 NR 801–1000 University of Warsaw Poland
124 NR 351–400 East China Normal University China
125 123 117 University of Virginia (Main campus) United States
126 122 167 Korea University South Korea
127 121 90 University of Maryland, College Park United States
127 128 133 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus United States
129 120 501–600 Complutense University of Madrid Spain
130 126 401–500 University of Georgia United States
131 118 111 Nanjing University China
132 125 36 The University of Tokyo Japan
133 124 124 University of Arizona United States
134 129 20 Tsinghua University China
135 127 100 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
136 131 85 University of Minnesota United States
137 131 152 University of Florida United States
138 129 44 University of Texas at Austin United States
139 140 801–1000 Waseda University Japan
140 141 56 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
140 149 201–250 Tohoku University Japan
142 136 111 Vanderbilt University United States
143 145 54 Kyoto University Japan
144 138 70 Fudan University China
145 139 97 National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
146 142 301–350 Beijing Normal University China
146 137 301–350 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
148 135 101 Dartmouth College United States
149 144 60 Seoul National University South Korea
150 133 401–500 University of Tsukuba Japan
151 145 501–600 Hokkaido University Japan
151 148 96 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
153 150 251–300 HSE University Russian Federation
154 152 351–400 Osaka University Japan
155 150 401–500 Kyushu University Japan
156 153 201–250 University of São Paulo Brazil
157 157 401–500 Xi’an Jiaotong University China
158 155 601–800 Saint Petersburg State University Russian Federation
159 157 401–500 Harbin Institute of Technology China
159 143 601–800 Novosibirsk State University Russian Federation
161 156 351–400 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan
162 163 351–400 Nagoya University Japan
163 159 501–600 National Chiao Tung University Taiwan
164 145 301–350 Wuhan University China
165 160 251–300 Sun Yat-sen University China
166 161 501–600 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
167 NR 401–500 Tianjin University China
168 154 151 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
169 164 401–500 University of Campinas Brazil
170 162 601–800 Keio University Japan
171 165 87 University of Science and Technology of China China
172 170 301–350 Indian Institute of Science India

Methodology

The data in Times Higher Education’s ranking of The World’s Most International Universities 2021 are drawn largely from the “international outlook” pillar of the THE World University Rankings 2021. This takes into account a university’s proportions of international students, international staff and journal publications with at least one international co-author. Each of these elements is given equal weighting in calculating the score for this pillar.

The table adds a fourth component, which makes up 25 per cent of the total score: a university’s international reputation. This is a measure of the proportion of votes from outside the home country that the institution achieved in THE’s annual invitation-only Academic Reputation Survey, which asks leading scholars to name the world’s best universities for teaching and research in their field.

Only institutions that received at least 100 votes in the survey were eligible for inclusion. Universities must also receive at least 50 or at least 10 per cent of available domestic votes to be ranked.

Metrics and weightings:

• 25 per cent: proportion of international staff

• 25 per cent: proportion of international students

• 25 per cent: international co-authorship

• 25 per cent: international reputation

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