Top Universities in Europe

Top Universities in Europe main image

Although the second-smallest continent on Earth, Europe boasts many of the world’s best educational institutions. The UK boasts the highest number of internationally ranked universities among European countries, but is closely followed by France and Germany – each of which has 40 entries in the QS World University Rankings®. Meanwhile Switzerland now has two universities ranked in the world’s top 20, leading a group of smaller European countries with very strong higher education systems.

With more than 320 top universities in Europe to choose from, knowing all your elite European institutions is not always easy. This is why we’ve compiled a list of the top universities in Europe divided by country, based on the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings®.

Top universities in Austria

A landlocked country in central Europe, Austria shares borders with eight other European countries, including Germany to the north and Italy to the south. It has seven universities currently included in the QS World University Rankings; of these, the top universities in Austria are:

  • University of Vienna (158= in the world; 71= in Europe)
  • Vienna University of Technology (264th in the world; 125th in Europe)
  • Universität Innsbruck (289= in the world; 135= in Europe)
  • Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (394= in the world; 183= in Europe)
  • Johannes Kepler University Linz (501-550 in the world; 225= in Europe)

+ 2 more

Top universities in Belgium

Known for its fine chocolate and fine beer, Belgium is also home to some fine educational establishments. Like Austria, it has seven entries in the QS World University Rankings, of which the top universities in Belgium are:

  • KU Leuven (77th in the world; 29th in Europe)
  • University of Ghent (122nd in the world; 52nd in Europe)
  • Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL, 138th in the world; 61st in Europe)
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, 168= in the world; 74= in Europe)
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, 172= in the world; 77= in Europe)

+ 2 more

Top universities in France

France boasts a very extensive presence in the international rankings, with the majority of its top 10 universities located in capital city Paris. The top universities in France are:

  • Ecolé Normale Supérieure, Paris (28th in the world; 9th in Europe)
  • Ecolé Polytechnique (41= in the world; 12th in Europe)
  • Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC, 112th in the world; 46th in Europe)
  • Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (158= in the world; 71= in Europe)
  • Université Paris-Sud 11 (189= in the world; 87th in Europe)

+ 35 more

Top universities in Germany

Although it has only one entry in the world top 50, Germany equals France in its overall rankings presence, and is the world’s most popular non-Anglophone destination for international students. The top universities in Germany are:

  • Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (50th in the world; 14th in Europe)
  • Technische Universität München (53rd in the world; 16th in Europe)
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (65th in the world; 21st in Europe)
  • Universität Freiburg (102= in the world; 42nd in Europe)
  • Freie Universität Berlin (109th in the world; 43rd in Europe)

+ 35 more

Top universities in Ireland

A relatively small country in Western Europe, Ireland is home to eight world-ranking universities, of which half are located in the capital city, Dublin. The top universities in Ireland are:

  • Trinity College Dublin (61st in the world; 18th in Europe)
  • University College Dublin (139th in the world; 62nd in Europe)
  • University College Cork (210= in the world; 98th in Europe)
  • National University of Ireland, Galway (284= in the world; 133= in Europe)
  • Dublin City University (349= in the world; 160th in Europe)

+ 3 more

Top universities in Italy

Located in the southern peninsula of the continent, Italy is the fifth most populous country in Europe and boasts 26 ranked universities. The top universities in Italy are:

  • University of Bologna (188th in the world; 86th in Europe)
  • Sapienza University of Rome (196= in the world; 91st in Europe)
  • Politecnico di Milano (230= in the world; 109th in Europe)
  • University of Milano (235th in the world; 111th in Europe)
  • University of Pisa (259th in the world; 122nd in Europe)

+ 21 more

Top universities in the Netherlands

This Dutch-speaking country (often referred to as Holland, though in fact the region of Holland only makes up two of its provinces), boasts 13 ranked universities. The top universities in the Netherlands are:

  • University of Amsterdam (58th in the world; 17th in Europe)
  • Leiden University (74th in the world; 27th in Europe)
  • Utrecht University (81st in the world; 32nd in Europe)
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam (92= in the world; 38th in Europe)
  • Delft University of Technology (95th in the world; 39th in Europe)

+ 8 more

Top universities in the Nordic countries

Also known as Scandinavia, this area of Northern Europe offers 26 internationally ranked universities. Within the Nordic region, Finland claims the strongest overall rankings presence, despite being the most sparsely populated country in Europe, while Denmark offers the highest ranked university in the area. The top universities in the Nordic countries are:

Denmark

  • University of Copenhagen (45th in the world; 13th in Europe)
  • Aarhus University (91st in the world; 37th in Europe)

+ 3 more

Finland

  • University of Helsinki (69= in the world; 24th in Europe)
  • Aalto University (196= in the world; 90th in Europe)

+ 7 more

Norway

  • University of Oslo (89th in the world; 35th in Europe)
  • University of Bergen (151= in the world; 67th in Europe)

+ 2 more

Sweden

  • Lund University (67th in the world; 22nd in Europe)
  • Uppsala University (79= in the world; 31st in Europe)

+6 more

Top universities in Russia

The largest country in the world, Russia is home to 18 universities included in the QS World University Rankings. The top universities in Russia are:

  • Lomonosov Moscow State University (120th in the world; 50th in Europe)
  • Saint-Petersburg State University (240= in the world; 113= in Europe)
  • Bauman Moscow State Technical University (334= in the world; 151= in Europe)
  • Novosibirsk State University (352nd in the world; 161st in Europe)
  • Moscow State Institute of International Relations (386th in the world; 180th in Europe)

+ 13 more

Top universities in Spain

Located on the Mediterranean coast, Spain is popular among both tourists and students, with 18 world-ranking universities. The top universities in Spain are:

  • Universitat Autonóma de Barcelona (177th in the world; 79th in Europe)
  • University of Barcelona (178th in the world; 80th in Europe)
  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (195th in the world; 89th in Europe)
  • University Complutense Madrid (216= in the world; 101= in Europe)
  • Universitat Pompeu Fabra (281= in the world; 131= in Europe)

+ 13 more

Top universities in Switzerland

Home to a large chunk of the Alps mountain range, Switzerland is the only country to boast two universities in the world’s top 20 outside of the US, Canada or the UK. Of its eight ranked universities, half are in the global top 100. The top universities in Switzerland are:

  • ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 12th in the world; 5th in Europe)
  • Ecolé Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (19= in the world; 7= in Europe)
  • University of Geneva (71= in the world; 25= in Europe)
  • University of Zurich (78th in the world; 30th in Europe)
  • University of Basel (110th in the world; 44th in Europe)

+ 3 more

Top universities in the UK

Second only to the US in overall rankings presence, the UK boasts 4 of the top 10 universities in the world, and 7 of the 10 top universities in Europe. The top universities in the UK are:

  • University of Cambridge (3rd in the world; 1st in Europe)
  • University College London (UCL, 4th in the world; 2nd in Europe)
  • Imperial College London (5th in the world; 3rd in Europe)
  • University of Oxford (6th in the world; 4th in Europe)
  • University of Edinburgh (17= in the world; 6th in Europe)

+ 64 more

Best of the rest…

That covers most of the continent’s best-known international study destinations. But the top universities in Europe do not end there; many more European countries are home to one or more institutions included in the QS World University Rankings. Here’s a quick round-up of the rest:

Belarus

  • Belarus State University (551-600 in the world; 246= in Europe)
  • Belarusian National Technical University (701+ in the world; 283= in Europe)

Bulgaria

  • University of St. Kliment Ohridski (651-700 in the world; 270= in Europe)

Croatia

  • University of Zagreb (601-650 in the world; 257= in Europe)

Czech Republic

  • Charles University (233= in the world; 110th in Europe)
  • Czech Technical University in Prague (451-460 in the world; 206= in Europe)

+ 3 more

Estonia

  • Tallinn University of Technology (441-450 in the world; 200= in Europe)
  • University of Tartu (461-470 in the world; 212= in Europe)

Greece

  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (471-480 in the world; 214= in Europe)
  • University of Crete (491-500 in the world; 221= in Europe)

+ 4 more

Hungary

  • University of Szeged (501-550 in the world; 225= in Europe)
  • Eötvös Loránd University (551-600 in the world; 246= in Europe)

+ 2 more

Latvia

  • University of Latvia (701+ in the world 283= in Europe)

Lithuania

  • Vilnius University (601-650 in the world; 257= in Europe)
  • Kaunas University of Technology (701+ in the world; 283= in Europe)

+ 2 more

Poland

  • University of Warsaw (338= in the world; 155= in Europe)
  • Jagiellonian University (376= in the world; 175= in Europe)

+ 4 more

Portugal

  • University of Porto (343= in the world; 157th in Europe)
  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa (353= in the world; 162nd in Europe)

+ 3 more

Romania

  • Alexandru loan Cuza University (701+ in the world; 283= in Europe)
  • Babes-Bolyai University (701+ in the world; 283= in Europe)

+ 2 more

Serbia

  • University of Belgrade (701+ in the world; 283= in Europe)

Slovenia

  • University of Ljubljana (551-600 in the world; 246= in Europe)

Ukraine

  • Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (441-450 in the world; 200= in Europe)
  • National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute" (601-650 in the world; 257= in Europe)

+ 2 more

Image Credits: David L R LitchfieldKU Leuven; LPLT; Jan Beckendorf; Patrick Theiner; Francesco Gasparetti; Eurosa.org; Alamy; NUS.edu; LU; MSU; Jeanie Mackinder; Cisabroad.com; ArchonMeld; Andrew Dunn; EU.

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