Lifestyle & Culture

USN&WR: British schools still rule list of Europe’s best global universities

As Dispatches has often told you, education in Europe – compared to the United States – can be the affordable route to the top of your profession.

But the question most Americans ask is, “How does a degree from a European university compare to an American program?”

bestweb0Well, our friends over at U.S. News and World Report have spent the last 50 years tweaking their ranking methodology to answer that question. And the new USN&WR list of Best Global Universities in Europe is out.

This is a hot topic simply because, as USN&WR references in its new list introduction, education is now a global industry, with the Atlantic Ocean no longer a barrier to entry.

The number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities has risen for decades. The number surpassed one million for the first time during the 2015-16 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  More than 313,000 U.S. students received credit last year for study abroad during 2014-15, an increase of nearly three percent over the previous year, according to “OpenDoors,” IIE’s new report.

From OpenDoor:

Europe continues to host more than half of all U.S. students going abroad, with about a third of all U.S. students choosing the United Kingdom, Italy, or Spain in the 2014-15 academic year. However, students were increasingly drawn to countries that offer an up-close look at how our world is changing, such as Cuba and Mexico, as well as Greece, which experienced the highest rate of growth among top study abroad destinations with an 18 percent increase.

How did Europe fare on the 2017 USN&WR list of Best Global Universities? Not all that well, numerically.

Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other American schools dominate the World Top 20. But Oxford and Cambridge are again on the list, ranked No. 6 and No. 7 respectively, and ahead of Princeton, Columbia and UCLA. In fact, UK institutions take the Top 4 rankings on the Europe-only list, as well as six out of the Top 10.

Each school ranking is based on research performance and ratings by members of the academic community, according to the USN&WR website.

Here are the Top 20 Global European Universities, according to USN&WR:

1  University of Oxford

2  University of Cambridge

3  Imperial College London

4  University College London

5  Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

6  University of Edinburgh

7  École Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne

8  King’s College London

9  University of Copenhagen

10 Catholic University of Leuven

USN&WR’s list is only slightly different than The Times Higher Education World University Rankings of Europe’s Top 200 universities, released last March, and these are all schools with multiple Nobel Prize winners as graduates, fellows or professors.

The downer in all this is that only the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and Catholic University of Leuven charge little or no tuition. Zurich charges about 600 Swiss francs (about $600) per semester, and Leuven about 900 euros. (Of course, you have to get accepted.)

The University of Copenhagen, by comparison, charges about 10,000 euros for graduate degree tracks.

BUT, compare that to tuition at comparable American schools:

Johns Hopkins University, $63,750

Dartmouth, $64,134

Columbia, $66,383

Only in the Netherlands and Germany are tuitions free, or very low cost. The good news is, both countries have highly ranked schools starting with the University of Munich at No. 11 and Utrecht University tied at No. 12 with Manchester University.

Methodology:

USN&WR ranks schools based on research reputations, publications and things such as “Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited in their respective field.”

More about going to university in Europe:

• Expat Essentials: Dutch universities offering more English-only classes to lure internationals

• Expat Essentials: Beyond the States has must-know info on 351 European universities

• Expat Essentials: Dutch universities offering more English-only classes to lure internationals

• Expat Essentials: ‘Coming to school in Germany really has been the best decision of my life’

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