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.
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|
|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|
|=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|
|23||21||77||University of Warwick||United Kingdom|
|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|
|=30||=42||101||University of Copenhagen||Denmark|
|=30||34||133||Durham University||United Kingdom|
|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|
|=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|
|46||53||7||Harvard University||United States|
|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|
|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|
|64||=84||=105||Rice University||United States|
|65||80||8||Yale University||United States|
|66||=92||=96||University of California, Irvine||United States|
|68||82||=175||Karlsruhe Institute of Technology||Germany|
|69||=87||=57||University of California, Santa Barbara||United States|
|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|
|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|
|=110||129||78||Penn State (Main campus)||United States|
|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|
|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|
|=131||=145||=175||University of Florida||United States|
|=131||=149||79||University of Minnesota||United States|
|=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|
|139||163||=120||National Taiwan University||Taiwan|
|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|
|148||159||=110||Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)||South Korea|
|=150||162||251–300||Higher School of Economics||Russian Federation|
|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|
|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|
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