Most international universities in the world
Explore the most international universities in the world using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings
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
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 10 colleges/schools: business, engineering, liberal arts and social sciences, science, veterinary medicine and life sciences, creative media, data science, energy and environment, law and graduate schools.
The university has more than 4,000 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.
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.
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=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.
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
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