World's most international universities mainly in London - rankings
Students on Campus Limpertsberg. of University of Luxembourg. Source: Facebook/@UniversityofLuxembourg

Universities based in the UK’s capital have among the highest number of international students in the world, new data from Times Higher Education (THE) shows.

London is one of the most prominent cities in THE’s “Top 200 Universities for International Students 2017” rankings table, with 16 universities represented in the top 200. The UK itself is the most represented country in the rankings, with 72 schools featured.

Overall, American University of Sharjah (AUS) took top spot for having the most representation of foreign students with 83.7 percent of their student cohort coming from abroad, followed by Hungary’s Central European University (CEU) with 77.4 percent and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with 70 percent at second and third places respectively.

Students of LSE pointed to the school’s location and world-renowned reputation in the social sciences as the main reasons behind their decision to study there.

“I chose to study in LSE mostly because of the city it is in,” Eran Yu, a master’s student in finance from Belgium said in THE’s video.

“London is a great place to be for international exposure,” Yu said.

Giorgia Gallrati, an Italian master’s student in international relations, chose LSE because of how close it is to home and the fact the university is one of the top schools globally for her chosen subject.

But she admitted she somewhat struggled adjusting to a UK-style education.

“A big challenge was the difference between the Italian system and the English system. I studied in the US, but it is really different from the US as well.”

The school’s website calls itself “a uniquely international and cosmopolitan university” with students from over 150 countries represented on campus.

Another key similarity of universities with the most diverse student populations is their age, THE says. Three universities in the top five – American University of Sharjah (AUS), Central European University (CEU) and the University of Luxembourg – were founded after 1991.

THE notes this could be a result of their bigger appeal to overseas students.

In a previous ranking on the world’s “Young Universities”, the higher education magazine also said younger schools outdo older institutions when it comes to attracting students from abroad as well as in publishing international research – a result researchers said revealed these schools’ priorities.

Campus location and age aside, another factor that makes a university a global one is its language of instruction. At the University of Luxembourg, many degree programmes are bilingual while master’s degrees are entirely conducted in English for its student cohort, of which more than half (54.8 percent) are from overseas.

Finnish student Heidi Flinkman enjoyed her time as an exchange student at the relatively small institution in the heart of the European Union, which then led to her decision to stay and finish her degree there.

“As the university is highly international, there are students and staff from many different countries and linguistic backgrounds, so it is easy to feel at home,” she said.

The rankings are based on THE’s World University Rankings, which includes information from institutions on the percentage of their foreign students. The data was then compiled into a list of the top 200 universities with the most percentage of foreign students on campus.

Here are THE’s top 20 universities for international students in 2017:

Ranking University Country/region Percentage of international students
1 American University of Sharjah United Arab Emirates 83.70%
2 Central European University Hungary 77.40%
3 London School of Economics and Political Science UK 70.00%
4 Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Ireland 62.30%
5 University of Luxembourg Luxembourg 54.80%
6 SOAS, University of London UK 54.30%
7 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland 54.20%
8 Imperial College London UK 52.20%
9 City, University of London UK 49.20%
10 University College London UK 46.90%
11 Maastricht University Netherlands 46.80%
12 University of St Andrews UK 46.40%
13 University of Westminster UK 44.70%
14 Murdoch University Australia 44.50%
15 University of Essex UK 44.30%
15 Middlesex University UK 44.30%
17 École des Ponts ParisTech France 43.80%
18 Qatar University Qatar 42.60%
19 Heriot-Watt University UK 42.00%
20 Queen Mary University of London UK 41.50%

Source: Times Higher Education

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