Most international universities in the world

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

January 28 2020

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.

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 2020, 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 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.


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: students from Hong Kong in the UK

International perspective: a Chinese student in New Zealand
International perspective: a French student in Switzerland
A day in the life of a student in Singapore


Top five most international universities in the world

1. City University of Hong Kong

The City University of Hong Kong is a public research university in Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was founded in 1984 as the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong and it became a fully accredited university in 1994. 

There are nine colleges/schools: business, engineering, liberal arts and social sciences, science, veterinary medicine and life sciences, creative media, data science, energy and environment and law.

The university has more than 400 exchange partners in 44 countries and regions, and more than 1,200 CityU students participate in student exchange programmes each year. 

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. 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, this Hong Kong 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.

=3. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

It is no surprise that Switzerland is home to some 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. 

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, as well as having 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.


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
Nine tips for students studying abroad for the first time


=3. ETH Zurich

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.

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 2020

Most international rank 2020 Most international rank 2019 World University Rank 2020 University Country/Region
1 NR 126 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
2 1 35 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=3 4 =38 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
=3 =2 =13 ETH Zurich Switzerland
5 5 =57 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
6 9 10 Imperial College London United Kingdom
=7 6 25 National University of Singapore Singapore
=7 7 1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
9 10 3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
10 8 =48 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
11 15 =36 King’s College London United Kingdom
12 =12 15 UCL United Kingdom
=13 26 =179 University of Auckland New Zealand
=13 11 =134 University of Vienna Austria
15 14 =27 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
16 =12 50 Australian National University Australia
17 =16 164 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
18 19 34 University of British Columbia Canada
19 =22 30 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
20 =16 90 University of Zurich Switzerland
21 20 =32 University of Melbourne Australia
22 25 71 UNSW Sydney Australia
23 21 77 University of Warwick United Kingdom
24 28 42 McGill University Canada
25 31 =55 University of Manchester United Kingdom
26 24 66 University of Queensland Australia
27 =32 60 University of Sydney Australia
28 30 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
29 =35 =75 Monash University Australia
=30 =42 101 University of Copenhagen Denmark
=30 34 133 Durham University United Kingdom
32 27 93 École Polytechnique France
33 =42 18 University of Toronto Canada
34 =32 112 University of Birmingham United Kingdom
35 40 =155 University of Leeds United Kingdom
36 =56 =62 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
37 50 =184 Aalto University Finland
38 60 =67 Leiden University Netherlands
=39 =92 2 California Institute of Technology United States
=39 NR =136 University of Cape Town South Africa
41 58 6 Princeton University United States
42 =56 4 Stanford University United States
43 55 =131 University of Oslo Norway
44 =63 =27 Carnegie Mellon University United States
45 =63 115 Aarhus University Denmark
46 53 7 Harvard University United States
47 66 =45 KU Leuven Belgium
48 62 16 Columbia University United States
=49 69 =38 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
=49 65 =45 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
51 67 =117 Free University of Berlin Germany
52 79 9 University of Chicago United States
53 70 =102 Uppsala University Sweden
54 75 19 Cornell University United States
55 NR 138 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
56 76 =13 University of California, Berkeley United States
57 78 74 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
=58 NR 301–350 University of Malaya Malaysia
=58 74 88 Purdue University West Lafayette United States
60 =72 12 Johns Hopkins University United States
61 81 43 Technical University of Munich Germany
62 77 =75 Utrecht University Netherlands
63 89 44 Heidelberg University Germany
64 =84 =105 Rice University United States
65 80 8 Yale University United States
66 =92 =96 University of California, Irvine United States
67 =84 =80 Sorbonne University France
68 82 =175 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
69 =87 =57 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
70 97 =32 LMU Munich Germany
71 96 123 Ghent University Belgium
72 91 29 New York University United States
=73 94 61 Boston University United States
=73 =98 17 University of California, Los Angeles United States
75 =98 =62 University of Southern California United States
76 100 =55 University of California, Davis United States
77 NR 201–250 École Normale Supérieure de Lyon France
=78 108 31 University of California, San Diego United States
=78 105 84 Michigan State University United States
=80 106 201–250 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
=80 102 11 University of Pennsylvania United States
82 103 =96 University of Helsinki Finland
=83 109 =105 University of Bonn Germany
=83 107 22 Northwestern University United States
85 =113 201–250 University of Massachusetts United States
86 =72 401–500 Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées France
87 =110 =99 RWTH Aachen University Germany
88 =113 53 Brown University United States
89 112 20 Duke University United States
90 118 =189 Tel Aviv University Israel
91 115 =155 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
92 NR 301–350 Aix-Marseille University France
93 119 70 Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
94 NR 26 University of Washington United States
95 117 301–350 North Carolina State University United States
96 120 =48 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
97 126 =80 Emory University United States
=98 121 21 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
=98 NR =168 Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
100 123 =168 University of Bologna Italy
101 128 201–250 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
102 NR 178 Texas A&M University United States
103 NR 501–600 Tomsk State University Russian Federation
=104 125 =189 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
=104 124 =157 University of Notre Dame United States
106 NR =134 Indiana University United States
107 122 52 Washington University in St Louis United States
108 130 601–800 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
109 131 24 Peking University China
=110 129 78 Penn State (Main campus) United States
=110 144 =107 Zhejiang University China
112 133 89 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
113 132 124 University of Colorado Boulder United States
114 134 251–300 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
115 135 197 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
116 137 =102 Georgetown University United States
117 138 51 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
118 139 =144 Nanjing University China
119 136 201–250 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Russian Federation
120 NR 501–600 Complutense University of Madrid Spain
121 142 =91 University of Maryland, College Park United States
122 147 =179 Korea University South Korea
123 141 =107 University of Virginia (Main campus) United States
124 143 104 University of Arizona United States
125 =149 =36 The University of Tokyo Japan
126 =145 401–500 University of Georgia United States
127 140 =157 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
128 148 =113 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus United States
=129 154 =38 University of Texas at Austin United States
=129 153 23 Tsinghua University China
=131 =145 =175 University of Florida United States
=131 =149 79 University of Minnesota United States
=133 NR 801–1000 Chulalongkorn University Thailand
=133 NR 401–500 University of Tsukuba Japan
135 151 =94 Dartmouth College United States
136 152 116 Vanderbilt University United States
137 156 251–300 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
138 155 109 Fudan University China
139 163 =120 National Taiwan University Taiwan
140 160 601–800 Waseda University Japan
141 157 54 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
142 NR 301–350 Beijing Normal University China
143 161 501–600 Novosibirsk State University Russian Federation
144 158 64 Seoul National University South Korea
=145 170 401–500 Hokkaido University Japan
=145 165 65 Kyoto University Japan
=145 NR 351–400 Wuhan University China
148 159 =110 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
149 168 251–300 Tohoku University Japan
=150 162 251–300 Higher School of Economics Russian Federation
=150 166 401–500 Kyushu University Japan
152 169 301–350 Osaka University Japan
153 164 251–300 University of São Paulo Brazil
154 NR =146 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
155 167 601–800 Saint Petersburg State University Russian Federation
156 NR 351–400 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan
=157 NR 401–500 Harbin Institute of Technology China
=157 NR 501–600 Xi’an Jiaotong University China
159 NR 501–600 National Chiao Tung University Taiwan
160 172 251–300 Sun Yat-sen University China
161 NR 601–800 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
162 174 601–800 Keio University Japan
163 171 301–350 Nagoya University Japan
164 NR 501–600 University of Campinas Brazil
165 173 =80 University of Science and Technology of China China
166 176 401–500 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India
167 NR 601–800 Indian Institute of Technology Madras India
168 NR 401–500 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi India
169 175 301–350 Huazhong University of Science and Technology China
170 177 301–350 Indian Institute of Science India

Methodology

The data in Times Higher Education’s ranking of The World’s Most International Universities 2020 are drawn largely from the “international outlook” pillar of the THE World University Rankings 2020. 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

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 . talebiyasamin1@gmail.com
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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