nicest universities in the world
A relaxed environment, cost, and structure makes a nice university. Source: AFP

Enrolling into a university is a whole new life experience, and you want to make the most out of it.

Aside from being your new home, this is where you will spend most of your time, make new lifelong friends and have many adventures coming your way.

Simply put, a new chapter begins now, and the nicest universities in the world can help ease your transition into being a student.

nicest universities in the world

Various factors make up a nice university, including its location, university architecture, and the country’s general weather conditions. Source: Trinity College Dublin Facebook

What makes a nice university?

While the choice of programmes available in the university is one of the main reasons why you would enrol, it is also important to look at various other factors too. Things like the environment, facilities, accessibilities, location, and other aspects should be taken into consideration.

An ideal university should balance theoretical education and environmental learning.

Good surroundings, other than being aesthetically pleasing to look at, can also indirectly enhance your learning process. You need to feel calm and composed for your mind to work, and a relaxing and safe environment helps.

Money is also another factor that future students should look into. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the modes of transport to get around campus or the university’s town? How much is transport going to cost?
  • Are food and other necessities affordable around campus?
  • Will there be any extra charges for certain services available on-site, such as using the university’s printers or gym?

The cost of living there is a whole other thing too. Some foreign cities (like London, Tokyo, or Seoul) cost more than others

One other point to consider is the university’s architecture too.

The nicest universities in the world come in various designs. From the traditional grey stone buildings like Stanford University to the more avant-garde modernist structures like Illinois Institute of Technology, the insides and outs of a university also contribute to it being nice.

Not only that, but the facilities available are also important to take into account.

Libraries, laboratories, cafeterias, computer labs, and health clinics can make or break your learning experience here. Nobody wants to walk 30 minutes just to get their morning coffee or learn science by memorising books instead of experimenting.

All that being said, what (and where) are the nicest universities in the world?

Here’s a list that takes into account a university’s beauty, affordability, environment, cost of living, and everything in between. 

nicest universities in the world

Flagler College is a liberal arts university in Florida, US. Source: Flagler College Facebook.

10 nicest universities in the world

1. Flagler College (St. Augustine, US)

Originally built as a hotel in the 1800s, Flagler College houses over 2,000 liberal arts students today. Located in St. Augustine, Florida, the city is a living museum of culture and adventure where students can participate and explore.

Whether it is practising Spanish on a galleon, excavating shipwrecks, or finding your way around St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, the only thing you will not find here are typical dull lectures.

2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong)

The most eye-catching thing about the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is its panoramic views of the clear, turquoise bay right below the campus. Most of the facilities are built on terraces that have been carved out of the hillside.

Aesthetically, all buildings are painted uniformly white, surrounding the main half-moon-shaped building.

3. KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium)

KU Leuven is Belgium’s largest and Europe’s oldest university, dating back to being founded in 1425. The university’s rich history can be found within its buildings, especially the library, which acts as its centrepiece.

It is difficult to tell where the university ends and the city begins as the faculties, libraries, institutes, residence halls, the university hospital, and other facilities are scattered throughout Leuven. This, however, offers students the best of both worlds, making the campus and city accessible and easy to explore.

nicest universities in the world

The National Autonomous University of Mexico is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Source: AFP.


4. National Autonomous University of Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)

The National Autonomous University of Mexico is probably the most unique-looking university in the world. It was categorised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, marking it as an important symbol of modernism in Latin America.

Students here will have a wealth of resources available for class projects and research as the university is home to the National Library. Good public transportation is a plus point here because of the free university bus service that traverses the campus.

5. National Chi Nan University (Nantou County, Taiwan)

Established in 1995, the National Chi Nan University has the highest proportion of international students in Taiwan eager to witness Taiwan’s vast culture.

Sheng Ping Sooi, a graduate of the university, agrees that the international student support team is top-notch. “They’re like your friendly guides, making sure you feel right at home,” she says. “National Chi Nan University offers a truly unique experience – nestled in the heart of Taiwan and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, including the serene Sun Moon Lake.”

nicest universities in the world

Stanford University is ranked the best university in the US. Source: Stanford University Facebook

6. Stanford University (Stanford, US)

Ranked the best university in the US by Times Higher Education in 2024, Stanford University is home to a community of creative and accomplished people from around the world.

There are more than 600 student organisations focusing on arts and culture, athletics and recreational activities to explore, and with two world-class art museums found on the campus, students aren’t short on exciting things to do during their studies here. 

7. Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)

As the oldest university in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin has the largest selection of old manuscripts and books there. The Library of Trinity College Dublin houses the Book of Kells, a 1,200-year-old manuscript that students and tourists can check out through its immersive digital experience.

The university also boasts an impressive neo-classical façade and sprawling courtyard, setting the picture-perfect scene that brings any study abroad dream to life.

nicest universities in the world

Enjoy boating activities at the River Cam near the University of Cambridge Source: University of Cambridge Facebook.

8. University of Cambridge (Cambridge, England)

Located in England, the University of Cambridge is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Besides the one dedicated main campus in the centre of Cambridge city, there are 31 constituent colleges rich in history and tradition, plus numerous libraries, museums, sports centres and other facilities that students can access.

The real deal is that the buildings overlook the River Cam, where students and visitors can go boating, canoeing, rowing, and even swimming when the weather is fine. 

nicest universities in the world

The University of Coimbra will impress more than just history buffs. Source: University of Coimbra Facebook.

9. University of Coimbra (Coimbra, Portugal)

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, the University of Coimbra is probably the most aesthetically pleasing university there is today.

With its Baroque Library being dubbed one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the exceptional architecture of its Botanic Garden, and its Great Hall of Acts, the university has more than enough to sweep anyone off their feet.

nicest universities in the world

The University of Oxford has produced many prominent public figures within its beautiful halls. Source: University of Oxford Facebook.

10. University of Oxford (Oxford, England)

Ranked the best university in the world, prominent historical and public figures were birthed from the University of Oxford.

From former Prime Ministers, famous scholars, world leaders, and Olympic champions, the University of Oxford produces bright minds through its high level of education and state-of-the-art facilities such as colleges, institutions, museums and libraries.

Fun fact: The university’s Christ Church College doubled as Hogwarts’ Great Hall from the famous “Harry Potter” films.