These are the top 5 small universities in the world for 2019
Are you keen on studying abroad at one of the world's smallest universities? Source: Shutterstock

Small universities can pack a punch. Those who prefer studying within a smaller community – rather than getting lost among a sea of other students – will likely appreciate the sense of belonging and camaraderie that even the smallest universities can bring.

While every student has different wants and needs, not all will enjoy studying at larger universities with sprawling campuses that stretches across acres of land. There’s some semblance of anonymity that comes with being a student in a large university – every individual seeks different experiences, and for some, a smaller university holds more appeal. 

Smaller class sizes translates to a more intimate learning environment, giving students the chance to get to know the members faculty better.

If you’re drawn to the prospects of studying abroad at one of the world’s smallest universities, here are Times Higher Education’s top five small universities in the world for 2019:  

1. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – US

If you watch the popular sitcom Modern Family, you’ll know that the show’s brainiac, Alex Dunphy, attends this prestigious university – renowned for its prowess in science and technology. 

Entry into this school is competitive, with only a small number of students admitted each year. Much of the university’s appeal lies in its programmes, which are taught by leading scholars in high quality facilities.

That’s not all – Caltech is ranked 5th in the THE World University Rankings 2019.

2. École Polytechnique – France

If you’re a high potential student who can withstand the rigours of a rich and demanding curriculum, École Polytechnique might suit your fancy. THE notes that this university is France’s leading institution in science and technology.

Students at École Polytechnique benefit from the university’s learning environment, also gaining access to cutting-edge facilities at École Polytechnique’s world-class Research Centers.

3. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) – South Korea

South Korea may be famous for its K-Pop stars, but the country is also a rising star in the education realm, with many top universities such as POSTECH climbing the world university rankings. 

POSTECH has been educating luminous minds since its inception in 1986, specialising in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). 

Prospective students have a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to choose from. Much like the other two universities, admissions into POSTECH is competitive under the admission officer system.

4. Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Italy

This public university specialises in the field of applied sciences. Prospective students can choose from undergraduate and postgraduate courses in economics and management, law and political science.

THE notes that they have fewer than 1,000 students and boasts some of Italy’s finest scientific and political minds among its alumni – including former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato and neuroscientist, Giuliano Tononi.

Admission into this institution is highly competitive, with the admission requiring all successful applicants to pass the school’s entrance exam with flying colours. 

5. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa – Italy


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«Noi abbiamo bisogno di aria per respirare, di acqua per bere, noi soffochiamo senz’aria e senz’acqua: allora perché andare sulla Luna, perché?». «Per la stessa ragione che ci fa mettere al mondo i figli. Perché abbiamo paura della morte, del buio, e vogliamo vedere la nostra immagine ripetuta e immortale. Non vorremmo morire, però la morte esiste e, poiché esiste, partoriamo figli che partoriranno altri figli, all’infinito, e questo ci regala all’eternità. Non dimentichiamolo: la Terra può morire, può esplodere, il Sole può spegnersi, si spegnerà. E se il Sole muore, se la Terra muore, se la nostra razza muore con la Terra e con il Sole, allora anche ciò che abbiamo fatto fino a quel momento muore. E muore Omero, e muore Michelangelo Buonarroti, e muore Galileo Galilei, e muore Leonardo da Vinci, e muore William Shakespeare, e muore Albert Einstein, e muoiono tutti coloro che non sono morti perché noi viviamo, perché noi li pensiamo, perché noi li portiamo dentro e addosso. E allora ogni cosa, ogni ricordo, precipita nel buio con noi. Salviamoli, dunque, salviamoci. Prepariamoci a scappare, scappiamo per continuare la vita su altri pianeti, per ricostruire su altri pianeti le nostre città: non saremo a lungo terrestri! E se davvero temiamo il buio, se davvero lo combattiamo, allora, per il bene di tutti, prendiamo i nostri razzi, abituiamoci al gran freddo, al gran caldo, all’acqua che non c’è, all’ossigeno che non c’è, diventiamo marziani su Marte, venusiani su Venere, e quando anche Marte morirà, quando anche Venere morirà, andiamo verso altri sistemi solari, su Alfa Centauri, ovunque riusciremo ad andare, e dimentichiamo la Terra. Scordiamo il nostro sistema solare, scordiamo il nostro corpo, la forma che aveva, queste braccia queste gambe questi occhi, diventiamo non importa come, diventiamo licheni, insetti, sfere di fuoco, non importa che cosa, importa solo che in qualche modo la vita continui, e con la vita continui la coscienza di ciò che fummo e facemmo e imparammo: la coscienza di Omero, la coscienza di Michelangelo, la coscienza di Galileo, di Leonardo, di Shakespeare, di Einstein!» (Ray Bradbury)

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This university is the smallest on the list, with fewer than 600 students admitted.

It’s website notes: “The model of the Normale is based on certain basic principles: the selection of students exclusively on the basis of merit, study courses and accommodation at absolutely no cost, a strong intertwining of teaching and research, community life and a great openness towards international exchanges.”

The university specialises in the humanities, sciences and political and social sciences, notes THE.

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