Most international universities in the world

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

March 20 2019

Prospective students looking to study in the most international environments in the world should look to 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.

But 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 2019, shows that the above four countries are home to the 10 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 here.

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.

International student experience

Life as an international student at EPFL, Switzerland
A year abroad at university in Switzerland
Discovering my passion at the University of Hong Kong
International perspective: a Vietnamese student in Paris
International perspective: a Chinese student in New Zealand

Studying at a Japanese university: the experiences of two British students

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 50 per cent of its undergraduates having two opportunities to study outside Hong Kong during their degree by 2019, and for all students to have this opportunity by 2022.

Overall, Hong Kong’s leading university has more than 20,000 students, with almost 8,000 from abroad.

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.

Hong Kong itself is also known as one of the most global cities in the world, acting as a gateway between East and West.

=2. ETH Zurich

It is no surprise that Switzerland is home to one of the most international universities in the world, given that it is surrounded by five countries (France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein) and situated in the heart of Europe. 

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

The institution has more than 19,000 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 at the institution. One of the most famous alumni is Albert Einstein. 

=2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is regarded as one of the fastest-growing universities in the world. 

More than a third of the student body is considered international with at least 60 nationalities represented. About 80 per cent of the faculty come from overseas. 

More than 45 per cent of students undertake an overseas exchange and all four academic schools have their own exchange programmes. Some 70 per cent of students participate in internships overseas. 

Applying to university overseas 

How international students use social media to choose a UK university
The benefits of an international placement during your degree
Applying to university overseas: what to consider
Applying through Ucas as an international student
A guide for international students choosing a university in Australia
Hoping to apply to a US university as a foreign student?
How to choose a UK university
The cost of studying at a university in the UK

4. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has a particularly strong reputation in engineering, with 13 engineering science programmes, and more recently it has become known for its work in the life sciences, and also has strong computer science programmes. 

Students at the institution are given numerous opportunities to participate in exchange programmes with other universities in Switzerland and abroad. The university also offers an internship scheme for students enrolled at other internationally acclaimed universities to spend up to three months at one of its campus laboratories.

5. Chinese University of Hong Kong

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

The university has partnerships with more than 270 institutions in over 30 countries and regions. Some 6,000 students study abroad or take part in a learning abroad programme or internship.

Most international universities in the world 2019

Most International rank 2019 World University Rank 2019 University Country/region
1 36 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=2 11 ETH Zurich Switzerland
=2 41 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
4 35 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
5 53 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
6 23 National University of Singapore Singapore
7 1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
8 51 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
9 9 Imperial College London United Kingdom
10 2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
11 =143 University of Vienna Austria
=12 49 Australian National University Australia
=12 14 UCL United Kingdom
14 26 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
15 38 King’s College London United Kingdom
=16 120 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
=16 =90 University of Zurich Switzerland
18 58 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
19 37 University of British Columbia Canada
20 =32 University of Melbourne Australia
21 =79 University of Warwick United Kingdom
=22 29 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=22 =161 University of Sussex United Kingdom
24 69 University of Queensland Australia
25 =96 UNSW Sydney Australia
26 201–250 University of Auckland New Zealand
27 108 École Polytechnique France
28 =44 McGill University Canada
29 =93 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
30 4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
31 57 University of Manchester United Kingdom
=32 =116 University of Birmingham United Kingdom
=32 =59 University of Sydney Australia
34 =114 Durham University United Kingdom
=35 =187 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
=35 =84 Monash University Australia
37 =149 University of Nottingham United Kingdom
38 141 University of Exeter United Kingdom
39 70 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
40 =153 University of Leeds United Kingdom
41 =90 University of Montreal Canada
=42 =116 University of Copenhagen Denmark
=42 106 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
=42 21 University of Toronto Canada
45 201–250 University of Waterloo Canada
46 78 University of Bristol United Kingdom
47 501–600 Oxford Brookes University United Kingdom
48 119 University of York United Kingdom
49 40 Karolinska Institute Sweden
50 =181 Aalto University Finland
51 =132 University of Alberta Canada
52 =187 Cardiff University United Kingdom
53 6 Harvard University United States
54 =79 University of Groningen Netherlands
55 =121 University of Oslo Norway
=56 62 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
=56 3 Stanford University United States
58 7 Princeton University United States
59 98 Lund University Sweden
60 68 Leiden University Netherlands
61 =153 Stockholm University Sweden
62 16 Columbia University United States
=63 =123 Aarhus University Denmark
=63 24 Carnegie Mellon University United States
65 41 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
66 48 KU Leuven Belgium
67 104 Free University of Berlin Germany
68 =194 Paris Diderot University – Paris 7 France
69 34 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
70 =87 Uppsala University Sweden
71 76 University of Freiburg Germany
=72 301–350 Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées France
=72 =12 Johns Hopkins University United States
74 64 Purdue University United States
75 19 Cornell University United States
76 15 University of California, Berkeley United States
77 =74 Utrecht University Netherlands
78 67 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
79 10 University of Chicago United States
80 8 Yale University United States
81 =44 Technical University of Munich Germany
82 =135 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
83 301–350 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel
=84 86 Rice University United States
=84 73 Sorbonne University France
86 131 Technical University of Berlin Germany
=87 145 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
=87 52 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
89 47 Heidelberg University Germany
90 =123 University of Göttingen Germany
91 27 New York University United States
=92 5 California Institute of Technology United States
=92 =96 University of California, Irvine United States
94 =74 Boston University United States
95 89 University of Tübingen Germany
96 =143 Ghent University Belgium
97 =32 LMU Munich Germany
=98 17 University of California, Los Angeles United States
=98 66 University of Southern California United States
100 =59 University of California, Davis United States
101 301–350 Polytechnic University of Milan Italy
102 =12 University of Pennsylvania United States
103 =99 University of Helsinki Finland
104 201–250 Paris-Sud University France
105 =93 Michigan State University United States
106 201–250 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
107 25 Northwestern University United States
108 30 University of California, San Diego United States
109 =110 University of Bonn Germany
=110 401–500 Charles University in Prague Czech Republic
=110 =87 RWTH Aachen University Germany
112 18 Duke University United States
=113 53 Brown University United States
=113 201–250 University of Massachusetts United States
115 =123 Arizona State University United States
116 501–600 Panthéon-Sorbonne University – Paris 1 France
117 251–300 North Carolina State University United States
118 201–250 Tel Aviv University Israel
119 =71 Ohio State University United States
120 50 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
121 20 University of Michigan United States
122 54 Washington University in St Louis United States
123 180 University of Bologna Italy
124 173 University of Notre Dame United States
125 =199 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
126 =84 Emory University United States
127 =167 University of California, Santa Cruz United States
128 251–300 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
129 81 Pennsylvania State University United States
130 601–800 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
131 31 Peking University China
132 =114 University of Colorado Boulder United States
133 =82 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
134 251–300 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
135 201–250 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
136 251–300 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Russian Federation
137 109 Georgetown University United States
138 43 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
139 134 Nanjing University China
140 189 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
141 107 University of Virginia United States
142 =82 University of Maryland, College Park United States
143 =159 University of Arizona United States
144 101 Zhejiang University China
=145 =156 University of Florida United States
=145 401–500 University of Georgia United States
147 198 Korea University South Korea
148 =110 University of Pittsburgh United States
=149 =71 University of Minnesota Twin Cities United States
=149 42 The University of Tokyo Japan
151 =99 Dartmouth College United States
152 =121 Vanderbilt University United States
153 22 Tsinghua University China
154 39 University of Texas at Austin United States
155 104 Fudan University China
156 251–300 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
157 56 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
158 63 Seoul National University South Korea
159 102 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
160 601–800 Waseda University Japan
161 501–600 Novosibirsk State University Russian Federation
162 301–350 Higher School of Economics Russian Federation
163 170 National Taiwan University Taiwan
164 251–300 University of São Paulo Brazil
165 65 Kyoto University Japan
166 401–500 Kyushu University Japan
167 501–600 Saint Petersburg State University Russian Federation
168 251–300 Tohoku University Japan
169 251–300 Osaka University Japan
170 401–500 Hokkaido University Japan
171 301–350 Nagoya University Japan
172 301–350 Sun Yat-sen University China
173 =93 University of Science and Technology of China China
174 601–800 Keio University Japan
175 351–400 Huazhong University of Science and Technology China
176 401–500 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India
177 251–300 Indian Institute of Science India

Note: A correction to the World University Rankings table in November 2018 has resulted in big improvements in internationalisation metrics for the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Methodology: All four metrics have an equal weighting in the table. The international reputation indicator 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 (at least 50 of which were from their home country) were eligible for inclusion.

Read more: Best universities in the world 

Reader's comments (2)

Hello My name is jasmine and I'm 17. I'm studing last year of high school in Iran and my field is biology . I'm really interested in biology specially in genetics and I am looking for more imformation about the universities that I can ask them to give me information . If you know any that can help me please email me . thanks .
It would be good to know what league tables exist which are authored by France as I notice they feature at places 28, 70, =92, =96, 107 and 112.

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