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

January 28 2021

Most international universities in the world

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.

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.


International student experience

Life as an international student at EPFL, Switzerland
International perspective: an Indian student in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic
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. 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.


Applying to university overseas 

How international students use social media to choose a UK university
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


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 2021International Rank 2020World University Rank 2021University Country/region
1239University of Hong KongHong Kong
2314ETH ZurichSwitzerland
3556Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong
471University of OxfordUnited Kingdom
5611Imperial College LondonUnited Kingdom
6725National University of SingaporeSingapore
796University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
817155Trinity College DublinRepublic of Ireland
91047Nanyang Technological University, SingaporeSingapore
101216UCLUnited Kingdom
1113164University of ViennaAustria
12NR78Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands
131135King’s College LondonUnited Kingdom
1413147University of AucklandNew Zealand
151659Australian National UniversityAustralia
151527London School of Economics and Political ScienceUnited Kingdom
171834University of British ColumbiaCanada
181930University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom
192073University of ZurichSwitzerland
202377University of WarwickUnited Kingdom
212267UNSW SydneyAustralia
222440McGill UniversityCanada
232551University of ManchesterUnited Kingdom
232131University of MelbourneAustralia
2530149Durham UniversityUnited Kingdom
26285Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States
272662The University of QueenslandAustralia
283666University of AmsterdamNetherlands
293084University of CopenhagenDenmark
303318University of TorontoCanada
312964Monash UniversityAustralia
322751University of SydneyAustralia
333287École PolytechniqueFrance
34NR80University of GroningenNetherlands
3537201–250Aalto UniversityFinland
363870Leiden UniversityNetherlands
37394California Institute of TechnologyUnited States
38NR69McMaster UniversityCanada
3939155University of Cape TownSouth Africa
40NR103Lund UniversitySweden
4143127University of OsloNorway
41422Stanford UniversityUnited States
43463Harvard UniversityUnited States
43419Princeton UniversityUnited States
4545106Aarhus UniversityDenmark
466275Utrecht UniversityNetherlands
474428Carnegie Mellon UniversityUnited States
474817Columbia UniversityUnited States
494745KU LeuvenBelgium
504938Georgia Institute of TechnologyUnited States
5153111Uppsala UniversitySweden
5255116Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamNetherlands
53NR183Stockholm UniversitySweden
5458301–350University of MalayaMalaysia
554946Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University ParisFrance
5651118Free University of BerlinGermany
57567University of California, BerkeleyUnited States
586012Johns Hopkins UniversityUnited States
595419Cornell UniversityUnited States
605210The University of ChicagoUnited States
616141Technical University of MunichGermany
625894Purdue University West LafayetteUnited States
6364124Rice UniversityUnited States
645780Humboldt University of BerlinGermany
64NR401–500Technion Israel Institute of TechnologyIsrael
66658Yale UniversityUnited States
676698University of California, IrvineUnited States
687226New York UniversityUnited States
696968University of California, Santa BarbaraUnited States
706787Sorbonne UniversityFrance
716342Heidelberg UniversityGermany
7168201–250Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyGermany
737354Boston UniversityUnited States
747664University of California, DavisUnited States
757315University of California, Los AngelesUnited States
757032LMU MunichGermany
7771103Ghent UniversityBelgium
78NR78University of TübingenGermany
79NR401–500Charles University in PragueCzech Republic
79NR136University of ParisFrance
818013University of PennsylvaniaUnited States
827833University of California, San DiegoUnited States
838298University of HelsinkiFinland
848920Duke UniversityUnited States
857553University of Southern CaliforniaUnited States
8885201–250University of MassachusettsUnited States
8683114University of BonnGermany
8678105Michigan State UniversityUnited States
888861Brown UniversityUnited States
9087107RWTH Aachen UniversityGermany
91NR198University of BarcelonaSpain
928324Northwestern UniversityUnited States
9380201–250Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael
9491184Arizona State University (Tempe)United States
95104174Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityRussian Federation
9595301–350North Carolina State UniversityUnited States
9790191Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael
999380Ohio State University (Main campus)United States
100112101Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)South Korea
1019822University of Michigan-Ann ArborUnited States
1029785Emory UniversityUnited States
989429University of WashingtonUnited States
103100167University of BolognaItaly
1059648University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUnited States
11198166Rutgers, the State University of New JerseyUnited States
103102197Texas A&M UniversityUnited States
10610750Washington University in St LouisUnited States
107103501–600Tomsk State UniversityRussian Federation
107101201–250Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityUnited States
109108801–1000National Autonomous University of MexicoMexico
109104170University of Notre DameUnited States
11310923Peking UniversityChina
112106140Indiana UniversityUnited States
11411094Zhejiang UniversityChina
115113131University of Colorado BoulderUnited States
115115187Yonsei University (Seoul campus)South Korea
117114201–250Sapienza University of RomeItaly
118NR401–500National Research Nuclear University MEPhIRussian Federation
11811749University of Wisconsin-MadisonUnited States
120110114Penn State (Main campus)United States
121119201–250Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT)Russian Federation
122NR401–500Tongji UniversityChina
123NR801–1000University of WarsawPoland
124NR351–400East China Normal UniversityChina
125123117University of Virginia (Main campus)United States
126122167Korea UniversitySouth Korea
12712190University of Maryland, College ParkUnited States
127128133University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campusUnited States
129120501–600Complutense University of MadridSpain
130126401–500University of GeorgiaUnited States
131118111Nanjing UniversityChina
13212536The University of TokyoJapan
133124124University of ArizonaUnited States
13412920Tsinghua UniversityChina
135127100Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityChina
13613185University of MinnesotaUnited States
137131152University of FloridaUnited States
13812944University of Texas at AustinUnited States
139140801–1000Waseda UniversityJapan
14014156University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUnited States
140149201–250Tohoku UniversityJapan
142136111Vanderbilt UniversityUnited States
14314554Kyoto UniversityJapan
14413870Fudan UniversityChina
14513997National Taiwan University (NTU)Taiwan
146142301–350Beijing Normal UniversityChina
146137301–350Tokyo Institute of TechnologyJapan
148135101Dartmouth CollegeUnited States
14914460Seoul National UniversitySouth Korea
150133401–500University of TsukubaJapan
151145501–600Hokkaido UniversityJapan
15114896Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)South Korea
153150251–300HSE UniversityRussian Federation
154152351–400Osaka UniversityJapan
155150401–500Kyushu UniversityJapan
156153201–250University of São PauloBrazil
157157401–500Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityChina
158155601–800Saint Petersburg State UniversityRussian Federation
159157401–500Harbin Institute of TechnologyChina
159143601–800Novosibirsk State UniversityRussian Federation
161156351–400National Tsing Hua UniversityTaiwan
162163351–400Nagoya UniversityJapan
163159501–600National Chiao Tung UniversityTaiwan
164145301–350Wuhan UniversityChina
165160251–300Sun Yat-sen UniversityChina
166161501–600National Cheng Kung University (NCKU)Taiwan
167NR401–500Tianjin UniversityChina
168154151Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)South Korea
169164401–500University of CampinasBrazil
170162601–800Keio UniversityJapan
17116587University of Science and Technology of ChinaChina
172170301–350Indian Institute of ScienceIndia

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