As more American students are choosing European universities because of rising tuition prices at home, the Times Higher Education (THE) annual ranking of the Best Universities in Europe becomes more relevant. According to the British publication’s annual ranking of the top 200 universities in Europe, 46 of them are in the United Kingdom. Times Higher Education released their World University Rankings 2015-2016 on Thursday, March 10, 2016, with the University of Oxford in the top spot.
In the top 10 alone, there are seven British universities including the top three. The top universities consist of the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, which are usual suspects topping international lists, ranking in the top five or top ten. Besides Britain, only Switzerland, Sweden and Germany had schools in the top 10.
Germany has the second most schools on the list with 36 universities. Eleven of Germany’s universities are in the top 50. Germany even has one in the top 10, LMU Munich, which in the 10th spot. Germany also had three other schools in the top 20, “Heidelberg University (13th), Humboldt University of Berlin (15th) and the Technical University of Munich (16th).”
Italy has the third most universities on the list with 19, but only Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa barely squeaked through landing at number 50 on the list. Scandinavian countries were well represented, as Sweden and Denmark having a combined 17 universities on the list. Sweden had 11 schools on the list including the Karolinska Institute in ninth place. Finland had six schools represented with their highest being the University of Helsinki tied for 28th place.
Switzerland saw nine universities on the list including ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, which came in at fourth place, the highest on the European mainland. ETH Zurich consistently is the top mainland European university in most international rankings this past year and ranked in some them in the top 10.
Denmark also fared well considering its population with six universities on the list including the University of Copenhagen, which placed at number 33. Ireland also did well with six schools on the list; the highest was Trinity College Dublin coming in at number 78.
There were only two universities from France to make the top 50, École Normale Supérieure, ranked, which came in at 17th place, and École Polytechnique, which placed at number 43. In total, there were 15 French universities in the top 200.
Southern and Eastern Europe, however, did the worst in the ranking. Spain only had five schools on the list, with Autonomous University of Barcelona their highest ranking at number 70. As THE noted, Spain is “the second-lowest country when ranked in relation to its GDP.” Russia fared the worst, with only five universities in the top 200, and one in the top 100, Lomonosov Moscow State University ranking at number 79. THE indicated Russia is the “lowest-ranked country relative to its population and GDP, although it ranks highly relative to its GDP per capita.”
The Times Higher Education looked at five groups of performance indicators for their ranking methodology, with 13 individual indicators. The indicators include, “teaching environment (the learning environment), research environment (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), industry income (staff, students and research) and international outlook (knowledge transfer).”
The universities included have to offer undergraduate degrees and produce at least 200 research papers for the period between 2010-14. A total of 22 countries were included in the top 200. THE looked at “800 universities from 70 countries” to narrow down and create the ranking.
More Americans are looking towards European universities as a cheaper alternative to getting an undergraduate degree. With tuition sky rocking in the US even at state universities, the possibility of a free college degree is tempting. There are 44 European universities that offer free tuition.
According to CNN Money, “All public colleges in Germany, Iceland, Norway and Finland are free for residents and international students.” There are also some private institutions as well that offer free tuition. Many European schools are offering their programs in English just to attract “foreigners.”
In the US, tuition “without room and board” is “$9,410 at public colleges and $32,405 at private colleges.” In comparison, at European schools that do charge tuition, it can be $2,225 a year or less. Room and board costs in the US costs an extra $10,000 and includes dining hall meals. In Europe, however, students have to pay their rent, buy their meals, and they will need to “apply for a residency permit or visa.” Students still find that it still costs less than in the US.
Jennifer Viemont, the founder of the advising service “Beyond The States” told CNN Money, “The cost is what makes people think about going to college abroad, but then they start to see the other benefits like learning a new language, travel opportunities, and being prepared to work in a global economy.”
There are not many stats about the return on investment for a European degree and possible employment after. In 2012, 47,000 Americans graduated from European schools, while 20 million graduated from US schools.
The universities that rank the highest on THE’s best European universities are the ones that attract the most international students and offer programs in Englis, those are partially the reasons so many British universities are on the top of the list while Eastern and Southern European schools are ranking at the bottom.
Best universities in Europe 2016: top 10
1 University of Oxford UK
2 University of Cambridge UK
3 Imperial College London UK
4 ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland
5 University College London (UCL) UK
6 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) UK
7 University of Edinburgh UK
8 King’s College London UK
9 Karolinska Institute Sweden
10 LMU Munich Germany