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Top universities for international students

By Aisha K

Updated June 14, 2022 Updated June 14, 2022

Choosing to study abroad is often described as one of the most transformative experiences students will ever have. Whether you want to improve your career prospects, immerse yourself in a new country or meet friends from all over the world, studying abroad offers many benefits that can positively impact your life for years to come. 

If you’re considering taking up the challenge, you might be thinking about which universities are best for international students. The QS World University Rankings 2023 features over 1,400 institutions with 100 locations represented globally. One of the key metrics used in the rankings is the International Student Ratio (ISR), which demonstrates an institution’s ability to attract students from across the world.  

A high score could indicate that a university has a strong international brand and high global outlook. Highly ranked institutions can also provide students with global awareness and a multinational environment, facilitating the exchange of diverse ideas and practises.

To help you make your decision of where to study, here’s our list of the top ranked institutions for international students in popular destinations, including the US, UK and Australia: 

Top universities for international students in Australia 

School 

ISR Rank 

World rank 

University of Sydney 

12 

41 

Monash University 

18 

57 

University of Queensland 

19 

=50 

University of Western Australia 

23 

90 

University of Adelaide 

28 

109 

 

Top universities for international students in Canada 

School 

ISR rank 

World rank 

University of Toronto 

74 

=34 

McGill University 

77 

31 

Concordia University 

105 

551-560 

Simon Fraser University 

119 

328 

York University 

148 

456 

 

Top universities for international students in the UK 

School 

ISR Rank 

World Rank 

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) 

56 

Imperial College London 

13 

=6 

UCL 

14 

King’s College London 

21 

37 

London Metropolitan University 

22 

801-1000 

 

Top universities for international students in the US 

School 

ISR rank 

World rank 

Carnegie Mellon University 

66 

52 

Northeastern University 

73 

=388 

University of Rochester 

78 

=147 

Illinois Institute of Technology 

81 

=443 

The New School 

83 

521-530 

We caught up with Tingrui Zhang, an international student at IE University (ranked fifth for International Student Ratio) to find out what it’s like studying abroad in Spain. 

IE University

Tingrui, who studies a dual degree in international relations and business administration, said: “I have found that Spaniards – and specifically in my case, Madrileños – are extremely welcoming and enthusiastic about everything in life, and this includes newcomers to Spain. 

“At first, I was concerned about the language barrier since I was headed to a non-English speaking country. However there hasn’t been a single time where I’ve felt left out. The Spanish students here are open-minded and keen on meeting people from around the world.

When it comes to student integration and welcoming international students, Tingrui said: “There is a wide variety of activities and cultural clubs to unite all of us who come from different parts of the world. I’ve taken part as leader of the China Club at IE, unifying Chinese students and international students who are interested in learning Chinese or keen to know more about the country.  

“Everyone feels connected to who they are and where they come from and we all share this with each other – the many nationalities at IE truly enrich our discussions inside the classroom and out and it is something I have personally valued.” 

What does he love most about studying in Spain?  

“I particularly love the Spanish culture and the food! Spain makes full use of its geographic location, having many coastal towns. Anywhere in the country they make wonderful seafood dishes. My personal favourite is the Spanish rice dish: paella.  

“I would also like to stress how passionate Spaniards are, how much energy they exude and this is evident in their lifestyle. During my time at IE, I have found myself constantly at social events and meeting people – it is nonstop (if you want it to be) and I have really enjoyed participating in all of it.  

We also spoke to international students at Maastricht University (ranked first for International Student Ratio in the Netherlands) to learn more about their student experience. 

Maastricht city centre

Originally from Lebanon, Maria el Kadi, who studies circular engineering, said: “Coming to Maastricht was an eye–opening and enlightening experience. It's a young and open-minded university in a historical and charming city. The atmosphere is non-judgmental and inclusive. Overall, it was a push out of my comfort zone but it was definitely worth it as I was able to express myself and explore interests within and outside of university.” 

When asked what she enjoyed most about studying in the Netherlands, Maria said: “I love the intelligent, friendly, efficient, balanced mindset the Dutch have when it comes to their work. I feel as if there is so much opportunity and so much to do. There are so many interesting projects and technologies being implemented here. 

“The city of Maastricht is also conveniently located near major cities such as Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne so it’s very easy to explore Europe from that vantage point.” 

So how does Maastricht University welcome international students? Another student said: “During the ‘Intro Days’ of every academic school year, students are grouped with individuals from other countries and a buddy who is a second or third-year student. The buddy guides the student on topics important to adjusting to life in Maastricht.  

“We also have the International Student Ambassador Programme (ISAP) is a great initiative for students to meet individuals from similar countries. ISAP hosts events like ‘Cultural Food Night’ where students can bring a dish from their country and connect with people from their own culture and learn about new ones. It is a student-led initiative, and anyone can join!” 

Mari Takatsuki, who studies international relations at King’s College London, spoke of her experience studying in London. She said: “I think studying abroad can give you the edge when looking for international graduate jobs, as you can show that you’ve experienced a different culture and can apply your skills to international problems.

“I have loved studying abroad in London as I have had so many experiences that I wouldn’t have had studying at home. While obstacles like finance, admissions processes or language could have put me off trying, I decided it was worth the experience and I’m so glad I did. I would recommend it to anyone.” 

This article was originally published in June 2022 .

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Written by

Aisha is Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, creating and publishing a wide range of articles for an international student audience. A native Londoner, Aisha graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in Philosophy and has previously worked in the civil service. 

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