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Studying abroad: the world’s top universities
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Getting ready to study abroad? You probably noticed choosing the right university can be challenging. Every year, various rankings of the best universities are published. Picking a higher education institution abroad is not only about checking the list of world’s top universities. Nevertheless, rankings do help you find out how well renowned a university is. According to the most widely recognised rankings, the best universities in the world are located primarily in the USA and the UK. Let's take a look at the international rankings and their criteria.
 

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The 3 main world university rankings

There are three major rankings of world university, published annually:

  • the QS World University Rankings, which ranks 1,300 universities,
  • the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which compares over 2,100 institutions,
  • the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which compares the performances of 1,000 universities.

Methodologies vary and the rankings sometimes differ significantly.

Top 15 universities in the world

The rankings are different, yet it is often the same institutions that find themselves in the top 15 of the world's best universities. And the winners are usually… American universities!

The 2022 QS World University Ranking

Global ranking

University

Country

1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

USA

2

University of Oxford

UK

3

Stanford University

USA

3 bis

University of Cambridge

UK

5

Harvard University

USA

6

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

USA

7

Imperial College London

UK

8

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

Switzerland

8 bis

UCL (University College London)

UK

10

University of Chicago

USA

11

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Singapore

12

Nanyan Technological University (NTU)

Singapore

13

University of Pennsylvania

USA

14

EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Switzerland

14 bis

Yale University

USA

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022

Global ranking

University

Country

1

University of Oxford

UK

2

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

USA

2 bis

Harvard University

USA

4

Stanford University

USA

5

University of Cambridge

UK

5 bis

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

USA

7

Princeton University

USA

8

University of California, Berkeley

USA

9

Yale University

USA

10

University of Chicago

USA

11

Columbia University

USA

12

Imperial College London

UK

13

John Hopkins University

USA

13 bis

University of Pennsylvania

USA

15

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

Switzerland

The 2021 Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities

Global ranking

University

Country

1

Harvard University

USA

2

Stanford University

USA

3

University of Cambridge

UK

4

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

USA

5

University of California, Berkeley

USA

6

Princeton University

USA

7

Oxford University

UK

8

Columbia University

USA

9

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

USA

10

University of Chicago

USA

11

Yale University

USA

12

Cornell University

USA

13

Paris-Saclay University

France

14

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

USA

15

University of Pennsylvania

USA

University ranking criteria

Can we really compare institutions from all over the world when university systems vary greatly from one country to another? International university rankings are regularly criticised for their possible lack of objectivity and comprehensiveness. To prepare for your studies abroad, know how to use these rankings wisely! What criteria are used to judge whether a university is better than another?

QS ranking criteria

Times Higher Education ranking criteria

ARWU ranking criteria

Academic reputation

Teaching: learning environment

Quality of education

Employer reputation

Research: volume, income & reputation

Quality of faculty

Faculty/Sstudent ratio

Citations: research influence

Research output

Citations per faculty

Industry income: innovation and knowledge transfer

Per capita performance

International faculty ratio

International outlook : staff, students & research

 

International student ratio

 

 

Find out more about the world’s best universities

Take a look at the full rankings:

APRIL International supports all students abroad

Whether you are going on a university exchange for a term or for more than a year, an au pair stay or an internship, we offer students personalised insurance plans to protect their health during their studies abroad.

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