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World's most popular universities with foreign students

Konstantin Sheiko
February 22, 2018

International education has been rapidly growing in popularity, and also as business for the past thirty years. With the global economy becoming more globalised and interdependent every year there is an increased influx of international students to places of higher learning, primarily located in Western Hemisphere. These universities have traditionally been popular, prestigious educational destinations for foreigners and locals alike. Many of them boast long and proud historical traditions, sometimes dating hundreds of years back. By no means exhaustive, the list below presents some of the most popular Universities that foreign students try to enrol at.     

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore is consistently listed among the top best universities in the world in all the major college and university rankings. NTU was established in 1991 after the Nanyang Technology Institute merged with the National Institute of Education. In the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, NTU had 19 subjects in the world top 50, including Chemistry, Accounting & Finance, Business & Management Studies and Chemical Engineering. It also ranked first in Electrical & Electronic Engineering and Materials Science. Nanyang Technological University charges $17,450 – $72,100 for its undergraduate degree, and $16,700 for postgraduate degree.  

University of Oxford, UK, has traditionally been renowned for its academic repeat and scholarly endeavours. One-half of ‘Oxbridge’, the University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, dating as far back as 1096. Since then, 27 British Prime Ministers, 1 US President, a minimum of 30 world leaders, as well as 52 Nobel Prize laureates and 167 Olympic medallists have all walked the halls of Oxford, Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it is consistently ranked among the top universities in the UK and the world. It charges £23,105 – £30,540 for its undergraduate program, and £9,391 – £22,356 for postgraduate diploma.  

UCL (University College London), UK, was established in 1826 as London University. UCL was the first university institution to be established in London, as well as the first in England to be entirely secular. It is the third oldest uni in England and the third largest in the UK by total enrolment (behind Open University in England and the University of Manchester). UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi (leader of Indian independence movement), Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone), Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA) and Chris Martin (singer and frontman of Coldplay). It charges £17,710 – £23,710 for undergraduate diploma, and £20,540 – £24,610 for postgraduate degree.  

Imperial College London, UK, was founded by Prince Albert in 1906 , and in 1907 Imperial College London was granted Royal Charter. The university is organised into the faculties of business, engineering, medicine and science, emphasising on emerging technology and its practical application. Its medical school was ranked the third best in the world in the 2015 Times Higher Education University Rankings, which receives about 2,000 applications each year but only accepts some 20%. Staff and alumni include 15 Nobel Prize winners (including Sir Alexander Fleming and HG Wells), 2 Fields Medalists, 82 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 78 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences. It charges £27,750 for undergraduate diploma, and £28,200 – £29,000 for postgraduate degree.  

University of Cambridge, UK, is the second half of ‘Oxbridge’. Cambridge is the second oldest university in UK, behind Oxford with which it shares many common features. It was founded way back in 1209 and gained a royal charter by King Henry III in 1231. It’s one of the most difficult universities to get into, with only 33.8% of 16,795 applicants being admitted. But if you do manage to get in, and graduate from Cambridge, you’ll join the likes of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (who also attended Oxford), naturalist Charles Darwin, 15 British Prime Ministers (including Robert Walpole) and 9 monarchs (including Charles, Prince of Wales and Queen Margarethe II of Denmark). Studying there will cost you £19,197 – £29,217 for undergraduate degree, and £21,600 – £29,769 for postgraduate degree.   

Harvard University, USA, is perhaps one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the States – and it is not just because it was a background setting for Legally Blonde. Established way back in 1636, it is the country’s oldest institution of higher learning. The university is organised into 11 separate academic units, including Harvard Business School, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine, which is viewed as one of the best dental schools in the world. Harvard’s alumni include 8 US presidents (including Barack Obama and Theodore Roosevelt), 62 living billionaires (including Mark Zuckerberg, who later dropped out to focus on Facebook), as well as 359 Rhodes Scholars and 242 Marshall Scholars. Harvard charges $44,990 for undergraduate diploma, and $11,258 – $43,296 for postgraduate degree.    

University of Chicago, USA, was established in 1890. University of Chicago consistently holds top 10 positions in numerous national and international rankings. It is comprised of the College, various graduate programmes and interdisciplinary committees organised into five academic research divisions, and seven professional schools. A total of 91 Nobel Prize laureates have attended the University, the fourth most of any institution anywhere in the world. Fictional alumni include archaeologist Indiana Jones and long-time X-Men member Kitty Pryde. It charges $53,292 for undergraduate, and $47,802 for postgraduate degrees.  

California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA, was founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G Throop in 1891. Caltech assumed its present name in 1921. Caltech is frequently cited as one of the world’s best universities and is one of the few universities in the States primarily dedicated to the instruction of technical arts and applied sciences. Beyond its reputation for being a leading university in the fields of science, engineering and education, Caltech is also known for its tradition of practical jokes and pranks. Two of the most famous pranks are the changing of the Hollywood sign to read ‘CALTECH’ in 1987 and the changing of the scoreboard during the 1984 Rose Bowl Game to read ‘Caltech 38, MIT 9’. Its undergraduate degree is $48,111 + $1,797 in mandatory fees, while the postgraduate program costs $48,111 + $1,605 in mandatory fees.  

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, was founded in 1861 in response to the industrialisation of the USA, and is traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering. More recently, it has emerged as a leading university in biology, economics, linguistics and management. Its alumni, which includes 85 Nobel Prize laureates, 45 Rhodes Scholars and 34 astronauts, have founded companies whose aggregated revenue equals that of the eleventh largest economy in the world. Its undergraduate and postgraduate programs cost $49,580.  

Stanford University, USA, was founded in 1885. Stanford University (officially: Leland Stanford Junior University, in memory of founders Leland and Jane Stanford’s only son) is one of the most expensive universities in the world. Due to its close proximity to Silicon Valley, it is also regarded as one of the most prestigious. It accepted its first students in 1891 as a coeducational and nondenominational school, and has since produced 30 living billionaires, 17 astronauts and 20 Turing Award laureates. Its undergraduate program will cost you $15,777 – $48,987, while the postgraduate costs $48,987 – $52,188.  

At the moment, America boasts five out of ten most popular educational destinations, four belong to the United Kingdom, and one to Singapore. However, due to the tectonic shifts taking place in world’s economy and politics, it is plausible that we might get new additions to this list in the foreseeable future, probably from mainland Europe and Asia.   

Photo via Wikipedia Commons / Tbmynors