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Top universities in Europe

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Craig OCallaghan

Updated Feb 05, 2024
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It may be the second-smallest continent, but Europe is densely packed with many of the world’s best educational institutions. In the QS World University Rankings® 2024, a total of 501 European universities are featured among the world’s best, roughly one-third of all the universities included.

The UK boasts Europe’s highest number of internationally ranked universities with 90 entries, followed by Germany (49) and Italy (42). However, it’s Switzerland that joins the UK in having a university ranked among the world’s top 10, something neither Germany nor Italy can manage.

There are also many great universities outside of the top 10 in Europe. In France, Université de Lille scores very highly for international research network. In the UK, there are many highly ranked universities outside of the top 10 including De Montfort University and the University of Loughborough. These rank highly for international student and faculty ratio, suggesting a vibrant and diverse community within the university. University of Loughborough also ranks highly for employer reputation.

In Spain, Universidade de Vigo receives its highest score for sustainability and in Germany, Universität Mannheim scores well for employer reputation.

With such a wide selection of top universities in Europe to choose from, deciding where to study in Europe is not always easy. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the top universities in Europe categorised by location.

Top universities in Austria 

University of Vienna

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

Top universities in Austria

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
=130 57 University of Vienna
=184 =78 Technische Universität Wien
=362 153 Universität Innsbruck
=421 =175 Technische Universität Graz
=446 =189 Johannes Kepler University Linz

+ three more top universities in Austria

Top universities in Belgium 

Known for its fine chocolate and beer, Belgium is also home to some excellent educational establishments. This year it claims nine of the top universities in Europe to be internationally ranked, with six of these placed within the top 300 worldwide. The top universities in Belgium are:

Top universities in Belgium

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
61 19 KU Leuven
=159 69 Ghent University
=180 77 Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL)
=189 81 Universite libre de Bruxelles
=248 =104 University of Antwerp

+ four more top universities in Belgium

Top universities in Denmark

Denmark has five representatives in this year's rankings, all of which are within the world's top 350 - a remarkable achievement for one of Europe's Nordic nations.

Top universities in Denmark

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
=107 =39 University of Copenhagen
121 48 Technical University of Denmark
=143 60 Aarhus University
=326 135 University of Southern Denmark (SDU)
=336 =140 Aalborg University

Top universities in Finland

Another popular Nordic study destination, Finland has plenty to offer international students including nine ranked universities which are all inside the world's top 610.

Top universities in Finland

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
109 41 Aalto University
115 43 University of Helsinki
=313 129 University of Oulu
=315 =130 University of Turku
=351 =148 Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT

+ four more top universities in Finland

Top universities in France 

Ecolé Normale Supérieure, Paris

France boasts a very extensive selection of top European universities, and an impressive presence in the international rankings, with 35 institutions featured in total. The top universities in France are:

Top universities in France

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
24 7 Université PSL
=38 11 Institut Polytechnique de Paris
59 18 Sorbonne University
71 21 Université Paris-Saclay
=184 =78 Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon

+ 30 more top universities in France

Top universities in Germany 

Offering free tuition to undergraduate students in all but one state, Germany is one of the world’s most popular non-Anglophone destinations for international students. The top universities in Germany are:

Top universities in Germany

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
37 10 Technische Universität München
54 16 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
=87 =30 Universität Heidelberg
98 34 Freie Universitaet Berlin
106 38 RWTH Aachen University

 + 44 more top universities in Germany

Top universities in Ireland 

Trinity College Dublin

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

Top universities in Ireland

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
=81 =26 Trinity College Dublin
=171 =73 University College Dublin
289 119 University of Galway
=292 =120 University College Cork
426 179 University of Limerick

+ three more top universities in Ireland

Top universities in Italy 

Located in the southern peninsula of the continent and much-loved for its weather, cuisine and beautiful settings, Italy is the fifth most populous country in Europe and boasts 42 internationally ranked universities. The top universities in Italy are:

Top universities in Italy

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
123 50 Politecnico di Milano
=134 58 Sapienza University of Rome
=154 =66 Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna
219 93 Università di Padova
252 106 Politecnico di Torino

+ 37 more top universities in Italy

Top universities in the Netherlands 

University of Amsterdam

This Dutch-speaking country towards the north of the continent boasts 13 globally ranked universities. The top universities in the Netherlands are:

Top universities in the Netherlands

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
=47 14 Delft University of Technology
53 15 University of Amsterdam
=107 =39 Utrecht University
=124 =51 Eindhoven University of Technology
=126 =53 Leiden University

+ eight more top universities in the Netherlands

Top universities in Norway

Another of the Nordic nations covered by our QS World University Rankings, Norway is home to six internationally ranked universities, three of which are within the top 300 in the world. The top universities in Norway are:

Top universities in Norway

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
117 44 University of Oslo
=281 118 University of Bergen
=292 =120 Norwegian University of Science And Technology
=577 243 University of Tromsø The Arctic University of Norway
1201-1400 =444 Norwegian University of Life Sciences

+ one more top university in Norway

Top universities in Spain 

Acclaimed for its buzzing cities and attractive Mediterranean coast, Spain is popular among tourists and students alike, and claims 35 of the top European universities according to the QS World University Rankings. The top universities in Spain are:

Top universities in Spain

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
=149 63 Universitat Autonóma de Barcelona
=164 70 University of Barcelona
=171 =73 Complutense University of Madrid
=199 84 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
280 117 University of Navarra

+ 30 more top universities in Spain

Top universities in Sweden

Sweden is home to eight of the world's top universities according to the latest QS World University Rankings, as well as being the home of ABBA and IKEA. If you're looking forward to assembling some flat-pack furniture in your new student accommodation while singing along to Dancing Queen, the top universities in Sweden might be right for you. They are:

Top universities in Sweden

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
=73 22 KTH Royal Institute of Technology
=85 29 Lund University
105 37 Uppsala University
118 45 Stockholm University
129 56 Chalmers University of Technology

+ three more top universities in Sweden

Top universities in Switzerland 

ETH Zurich

Home to a large portion of the Alps mountain range, Switzerland has one university within the global top 10 and a further 10 included in this year's rankings. The top universities in Switzerland are:

Top universities in Switzerland

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
7 4 ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
36 9 Ecolé Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
=91 32 University of Zurich (UZH)
=124 =51 University of Basel
=126 =53 University of Bern

+ six more top universities in Switzerland

Top universities in the UK 

Second only to the US in the number of total universities included in the ranking, the UK is the most popular destination to study in Europe. It currently boasts six of the world’s top 10 universities, and five of the top six universities in Europe. The top universities in the UK are:

Top universities in the UK

QS World University Rankings 2024

Global rank European rank University
2 1 University of Cambridge
3 2 University of Oxford
6 3 Imperial College London
9 5 UCL (University College London)
22 6 University of Edinburgh

+ 85 more top universities in the UK

University of Tartu

Top universities in the rest of Europe

The list above covers most of the best-known places to study in Europe as an international student. But the top European universities 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:

Bosnia-Herzegovina

There is just one university from Bosnia-Herzegovina in the QS World University Rankings 2024. University of Sarajevo is ranked 1201-1400 globally, joint 444th in Europe.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria also has a single representative in this year's rankings. Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" is ranked 741-750 globally, joint 297th in Europe.

Croatia

Four Croatian universities are included in the 2024 edition of the rankings, although only one of these is ranked within the top 1,000. The University of Zagreb is ranked 751-760 globally, the equivalent of being ranked joint 302nd in Europe.

+ three more top universities in Croatia

Cyprus

The sole Cypriot institution in this year's rankings is University of Cyprus (UCY), which is ranked an impressive 368th in the world, or 155th in Europe.

Czechia

Of the 16 universities from Czechia in the QS World University Rankings 2024, three of them make the global top 500. Leading the way with a rank of =248th globally is Charles University, which is also ranked joint 104th in Europe.

+ 15 more top universities in Czechia

Estonia

Of the three Estonian universities included in this year's rankings, only one cracks the global top 500: the University of Tartu, which is ranked =358th in the world and =151st in Europe.

+ two more top universities in Estonia

University of Szeged

Greece

Eight top universities from Greece are included in this year's rankings, with the National Technical University of Athens ranking =347th in the world (145th in Europe).

+ seven more top universities in Greece

Hungary

There are eleven Hungarian universities within the QS World University Rankings 2024, with the University of Szeged the highest-ranked at 601-610, or joint 252nd in Europe.

+ 10 more top universities in Hungary

Iceland

There's just one Icelandic university in the QS World University Rankings 2024: the University of Iceland is ranked 1201-1400 globally (joint 444th in Europe).

Latvia

Three universities in Latvia feature in this year's rankings, all of which are located in the capital city Riga. The highest-ranked of these is Riga Technical University, placed 751-760 in the world or joint 302nd in Europe.

+ two more top universities in Latvia

Lithuania 

Five universities represent Lithuania in the 2024 edition of our rankings, but only one is in the top 500 in the world. Vilnius University is ranked =473rd in the world, the equivalent of joint 203rd in Europe.

 + four more top universities in Lithuania

Luxembourg

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the size of the nation, there's just one university from Luxembourg within our rankings. However, it's an extremely strong performer. The University of Luxembourg is ranked 381st in the world, the equivalent of being ranked 159th in Europe.

Malta

Likewise, there's just one Maltese institution in our rankings. The University of Malta is ranked 851-900 in the world (joint 334th in Europe).

Poland 

An astonishing 22 universities from Poland are included in this year's rankings, an increase of nearly 50 percent over the last five years. The top-ranked institution is the University of Warsaw, which is ranked 262nd in the world and 110th in Europe.

+ 21 more top universities in Poland

Portugal

All eight Portuguese universities included in this year's rankings are within the top 950 in the world, with the University of Porto the highest-ranked. It's placed 253rd in the world, which is high enough to be within the top 110 in Europe (exact rank is 107th).

+ seven more top universities in Portugal

Romania 

The top university in Romania is Babes-Bolyai University, ranked 801-850 in the world or joint 318th in Europe. 11 more universities from Romania make it into the 2024 edition of our rankings.

+ 12 more top universities in Romania

University of Belgrade

Serbia

Of the four Serbian universities included in this year's rankings, only one achieves a place within the world's top 1,000. The University of Belgrade is ranked 721-730 in the world, the equivalent of ranking joint 289th in Europe.

+ three more top universities in Serbia

Slovakia

The top university in Slovakia in 2024 is the Comenius University in Bratislava, which has ranked 771-780 in the world, ahead of four other Slovakian institutions. Its rank is the equivalent of being ranked joint 309th in Europe.

+ four more top universities in Slovakia

Slovenia

Three universities from Slovenia feature in the QS World University Rankings 2024, with two of those within the global top 1,000. The highest-ranked is the University of Ljubljana, which ranks 621-630 globally or joint 258th in Europe.

+ two more top universities in Slovenia

Ukraine 

11 universities in Ukraine are included in the 2024 edition of our rankings, with the capital city Kyiv represented four times. The highest-ranked university in Ukraine is one of those four: Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is ranked 681-690 globally, the equivalent of =277th in Europe.

+ 10 more top universities in Ukraine

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