École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland has topped the Times Higher Education (THE) 150 Under 50 Rankings 2016 – a line-up of the world’s leading universities under the age of 50 – for a second consecutive year, while the UK boasts the highest number of budding institutions in the top 150.

EPFL maintained its position at the helm of the rankings, biting back at intense competition from a number of high-performing East-Asian universities.

Despite being founded a mere 25-years ago, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was ranked second place, earning it the title of Asia’s top young institution for the first time in the five-year history of the rankings. This follows Singapore’s success in THE’s 2015 World University Rankings, in which National University Singapore (NUS) was named Asia’s leading university.


The remaining top 5 positions were occupied Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Maastricht University in the Netherlands and South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Bertil Andersson, NTU’s current president, cited the university’s consistent ability to attract top global talent, alongside the school’s innovative approach to teaching and a “good blend of East and West” as reasons for NTU’s most recent league table accomplishment.

“Teaching in English makes it easy for NTU to attract international faculty or to collaborate with many other world-class universities as English is a common platform for us,” he told THE.


He added that a host of other Asian universities are highly-focused on becoming a centre of excellence – as demonstrated by Asia’s presence in this ranking – and that if this trend continues, “Asia could well become a major driving force for the world’s knowledge production and innovation by 2050.”

Despite Asia’s success in this year’s list, the UK remains the dominant force in the best universities under 50 with 25 featured institutions – though eight of these will be too old to feature in next year’s list, with a further five dropping out in the two years that follow.

Not a single UK university made the top 15, but the University of Dundee snagged the UK’s top spot in 16th position.


Led by the University of Technology Sydney, Australia boasts the most universities in the top 100 (16), with 50 percent of these holding a position within the top 50 institutions. In comparison with the UK, the foundation dates of Australia’s representatives are more evenly spread across every decade from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Andrew Norton, director of the higher education programme at the Grattan Institute, claims there are strong similarities between UK and Australian higher education policy, but that Australia has “much more consistent pro-migration policies for international students”.

He added that while older Australian universities still receive the majority of government research funding, the “aggressive” recruitment of fee-paying international students by institutions across the board has “financed more research than ever could have occurred through dedicated research funding alone”, thus elevating the global reputation of each of these institutions.

Additional reporting by Times Higher Education.

Click here to read the full list of THE’s Top 150 universities under 50 years old.

Image via Flickr.

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