Fifty-one nations on the western area of the Eurasian landmass comprise the European continent. The influence of these countries across history is profound, such as the Greek creation of the democratic system in 507 BC, to the colonisation of the Americas following Christopher Columbus’ expedition to Hispaniola in 1492.
Many of the oldest and best universities in the world can be found on the European continent. For instance, the University of Bologna founded in 1088 is often named as the first university in the world to award degree certificates. The collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom are typically considered by university rankings as belonging in the top ten best higher learning institutes in the world.
Europe has been a continent defined by conflict, and was the central arena for both the First and Second World Wars.
The European Union was originally founded among six nations as an economic agreement in 1957, and since its inception has been a key driving force for unity on the continent. Developments pioneered by the EU for students are the ERASMUS programme which offers study abroad programmes in Europe and across the world, and the expansion of free tuition for all students in countries such as Denmark and Slovenia.
A long association with world rankings does not stop Times Higher Education from fine-tuning its approach, says Phil Baty
To remain relevant in a rapidly changing world, the global university sector must work harder to convey its value to policymakers and the wider public, says Hamish Coates, professor of higher education, University of Melbourne