It’s easy to assume that the older a university
is, the better. After all, a quick glance at the latest Times
Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings shows Oxford
(900 years old) and Cambridge (800 years old) sitting in the top spots.
But younger institutions also deserve attention.
The same Times ranking
has assessed the best universities under 50 years old, taking into account
their teaching, research, international outlook and work with industry,
revealing a few that could give their centuries-old counterparts a run for
Founded in 1969 and located on the sunny shores
of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne sits
in the top spot. It’s also placed 12th in the latest
QS World University Rankings.
The institution scores particularly highly on its
international outlook (more than half of its 10,000 students are from abroad).
According to the THE, Switzerland is one of the “big global
trading hubs” that looks beyond its borders for personnel and ideas.
In second place, 26-year-old Hong Kong University
of Science and Technology is the first of five newer Asian institutions in the
top 10. It is 30th in the QS World
Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University is a
rising star, jumping 13 places since 2012. And to add to its appeal, its main
campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most
Beautiful in the World.
City University is Hong Kong’s second institution
on the list. Established in 1994, it’s in seventh place. The university is
known for achievements such as launching
Hong Kong’s first-ever undergraduate programme in veterinary
The young achievers
South Korea is home to one of the world’s
smallest universities: fourth-placed Pohang University of Science and
Technology, known as POSTECH, was founded in 1986. Loosely modelled on the
California Institute of Technology (Caltech), it focuses on science and
technology education and is very selective – only 320 students a year get
through its doors.
Barely out of nappies, Germany’s Karlsruhe
Institute of Technology is only eight years old and one of the youngest
universities in the world. Yet it has managed to land in ninth place. It was
established thanks to a merger between a much older university, the University
of Karlsruhe (founded in 1825), and a newer research facility,
Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe, (founded in 1956).
Like Hong Kong, South Korea and Germany also have
two institutions each in the top 10. Science and technology education is a key
feature of fifth-placed Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
(KAIST). It encompasses the National NanoFab Center, which conducts research
into how tiny devices can be used in everything from healthcare to computing.
Germany’s other top 10 entrant (eighth) is Ulm
University, located in the south-west German state of Baden-Württemberg.
Meanwhile, sixth-placed Maastricht University, in
the Netherlands, has the highest number of international students in the
country. Italy’s Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, in joint ninth, counts Italian
Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, neuroscientist Giuliano Tononi and economist
Nicoletta Batini as influential alumni.
The US and the UK, which dominate THE’s world
rankings, don’t feature in the top 10