Are you ready to discover what the best universities in Europe are? The QS World University Rankings 2021 is officially out! Read on as we explain what the QS World University Rankings is, which schools rank in 2021 and explore the biggest changes in the 2021 rankings vs 2020. We also look at how the rankings are compiled and what that means for you, as a potential student.
What is QS World University Rankings?
QS Quacquarelli Symonds delivers services and statistics to the world’s higher education sector. Among these, every year it announces the World University Rankings. From 2004 to 2010, QS published it in collaboration with the Times Higher Education, a British magazine about higher education. However, now it publishes independently. The Guardian and The Independent are just some of the newspapers who turn to the QS Rankings for their trustworthy and internationally recognised status.
QS takes into consideration several important and comprehensive factors to come up with the league table. Academic Peer Review carries the most weight at 40%, and results from an internal global academic survey. Faculty to Student Ratio and Citations per Faculty both weigh 20%.
The first measures the teaching commitment. The latter measures the research impact. The Employer Reputation is based on the results of a graduate employment survey and weighs 10%. International Student Ratio and International Staff Ratio weigh 5% each and focus on the diversity of the student community and the academic staff.
QS World University Rankings 2021 – Europe
10- The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
This British school ranks 49th in the QS World University Rankings 2021 and 10th in Europe. LSE is a member institution of the University of London, however, from 2008 it awards degrees in its name. It counts nearly 12,000 students and over 4,000 staff members. LSE is the second-highest university in the world for the percentage of international students. In fact, more than 155 nationalities are represented on campus. LSE offers undergraduate, graduate, and language programmes.
LSE is a truly inspiring place. You will meet people from countries all around the world who come from very different academic and professional backgrounds. This is especially fruitful at a university that specializes in social sciences because it allows students to broaden their horizons and learn from each other. Looking back at my year at LSE I am not only grateful for the excellent teachers but also for the discussions taking place outside the classroom. Having said that, the teaching staff at LSE is outstanding and very friendly and helpful. There is an active open door policy at the university which means you can talk to any professor of any department. Everyone will be happy to assist you in any way they can. However, keep in mind that you will not be babysat – you are expected to take the initiative yourself and be very independent. Especially at the postgraduate level, it is extremely important to be able to study independently. The workload is very intense and students are expected to be very organized and efficient in managing their time. Overall, LSE offers a fantastic study experience and equips every graduate with skills, confidence, and not least a valuable network for their professional lives after graduation. I highly recommend it!
9 – King’s College London
King’s College London ranks 31st in the QS World University Rankings 2021 and 9th in Europe. It is also located in London and part of the federal University of London. Around 33,000 students are enrolled at King’s and study at its 5 campuses all over the city. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
The university has a really good teaching quality and a wide range of programmes. It attracts many motivated students, and the staff is professional yet approachable and always willing to help. Although it is a large university and there are many King’s students, one always feels part of the university.
8 – The University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is the 8th university in Europe and the 27th in the world in the QS Rankings 2021. It is a public university with over 40,000 students. It offers studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Four out of the 4,000 academic staff members are Nobel Prize winners.
The subject I am studying is in itself very engaging, yet most of the assessments we receive enhance it. From court reports, that you are meant to build on a trial you observed in court, to designing your research proposal on a subject of interest or coming up with your own policy briefing, you are asked and encouraged to critically engage with what you have learned and put it into practice. Moreover, you get to be taught by experts in the field and academics, which are otherwise very willing to help you and give valuable feedback. The are plenty of volunteering opportunities, societies, and other valuable experiences that you can engage in to make the most of your time at the University, such as peer mentoring. There are also great services put in place in order to help you with any type of problems or simply to assist you with advice such as the Teaching and Learning Student Experience Office, the Career Service, the Counselling Service and so on. The halls provided by the university are an amazing place to get to meet people from all over the world, although their taste in terms of design is mostly modest. With the right people around you, this place will make you feel like home, yet regardless of anything, it will indeed help you develop new skills and improve existing ones in order to grow.
7 – The University of Edinburgh
This university is the 20th best university in the world and the 7th best in Europe according to the QS Rankings 2021. It was established in 1582 and it’s one of the most ancient universities in all English-speaking countries. The acceptance rate of The University of Edinburgh was only 10% as of 2016. It counts around 34,000 students and five campuses all over the city of Edinburgh. The local tuition fees are lower than domestic fees.
I really loved my programme at University of Edinburgh. While the head of my programme was a little unclear, the support I had from my dissertation supervisor was absolutely amazing, and the support from the rest of the faculty was second to none.
The course was extremely flexible considering my background in general linguistics from my undergraduate, and they allowed me to take courses throughout the School of Language Science that suited where I wanted to take my degree. Provided someone has the background, the department really helps you get the most out of your degree by eliminating redundancy, and I couldn’t have been happier.
I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone looking for a more academic and less second language teaching focus for applied linguistics, which is what I was looking for. I now hold a well-paying job in my home city that was relevant to my thesis.
6 – EPFL
EPFL is the 14th best university in the world and 6th best in Europe, according to QS 2021. It is a research institute and university located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, in the city of Lausanne. EPFL counts around 10,000 students. More than half of these are international. It offers Bachelors (only in French), Masters and Doctoral programmes.
The campus is driven by the leading class research and innovation mindset. I really liked how you are surrounded by people from a variety of background and this school sets a new standard of quality in education. The cost of the school is funded in large proportion by the Swiss government, making it really affordable for students. I would criticize the quality of the teaching. All professors are researcher, and some of them don’t have an education background at all. It makes it really difficult sometimes to get it through. Thankfully we are surrounded by older students and teaching assistants that can help us.
5 – UCL
We are getting close to revealing the number one university in the QS Rankings 2021!
UCL is the 10th best university worldwide and 5th in Europe. UCL is also part of the federal University of London. More than 42,000 students study at UCL, making it the biggest UK university by postgraduate enrolment and the third-largest for overall enrolment. It was also one of the first universities in the world to admit women.
This university is one of the most top-rated in the UK.
In addition to the high level of education, UCL offers a very pleasant student environment. Indeed, numerous societies exist so that every student can join one that truly matches his taste. A health and care hub is also available for students that are feeling depressed, alone, lost or just have inquiries. This university got the prestige it deserves because of all the services it proposes (ex: there are prayer halls in the university).
Location is amazing as it is located in central London and has access to various metro/bus lanes.
The last point I want to talk about is the multiculturalism of UCL. Students are from everywhere, it is rewarding to get to know about different cultures and religions. This diversity is unique.
4 – Imperial College London
The 8th best university in the world and the 4th in Europe in the QS Rankings 2021 is Imperial College London. It was also a member of the University of London but became independent from it in 2007, exactly 100 years after its foundation. Nearly 20,000 students are enrolled at the university, which has an acceptance rate of approximately 14%.
Amazing university giving high quality of education while also enabling amazing social life. Had a great time here and made unforgettable memories. Would highly recommend university for prospecting medicine students.
3 – University of Cambridge
Next on the list, we have the University of Cambridge, which is 3rd in Europe and 7th in the world according to QS Rankings 2021. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world, being founded in 1209. Its acceptance rate is around 19%. It is home to more than 23,000 students, six schools and more than 100 academic departments.
When I heard I had been accepted to study for a higher degree, in Physiology, at Cambridge University I was stunned. As a teacher these days I say to my students that someone has to study there, so it might as well be you! Not many people from my background get the opportunity, so I was determined not to waste it. It is like stepping into another world of unbelievable academic freedom. I had my own laboratory space for my research and famous scientists would visit and discuss their research. During my time at Cambridge, I had the chance to present my research finding at the Physiological Society in London and published my results in scientific journals. These are amazing opportunities and paved the way for my future career in the pharmaceutical industry and teaching. Cambridge University is located within the city of Cambridge and consists of different colleges, all with their own character. I chose Newnham College, mainly because the Graduate accommodation was excellent and the level of tutorial support was good. Newnham is a women only college and has the most beautiful gardens to wake up to and walk through each morning. Of course I would recommend Newnham College and Cambridge University for graduate or undergraduate studies!
2 – ETH Zurich
Second, in the QS Europe University Rankings 2021, we have ETH Zurich, which ranks 6th in the world. As the name suggests, it’s located in Zurich. It is also a sister institution to EPFL. It is home to more than 20,000 students, nearly 40% of whom are international. It offers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes.
I studied at this university for my masters degree and I definitely would recommend it. The topics of the lectures are cutting edge, you have the opportunity to build your own program and most of the professors (at least in my field) are real experts. There are many possibilities of doing research projects, and by so having access to great labs and gear. The teaching has a perfect blend between theory and practice. The teaching is strongly connected to research, therefore the topics covered are very cutting edge and the chance to publish a paper during the studies is concrete. Great programs for encouraging spin-off startups. Student life is very active, with a lot of student associations for any of your interests. The environment is really international but knowing German is a plus for everyday life. ETH offers you many services for free like sports facilities and language courses. I didn’t really like the exam system: I find them too much focused on speed, resistance to stress and memory than actual reasoning. Furthermore, you have a chance per year to have an exam, at a fixed date. Accommodation is hard to find in the city and expensive, and student dorms are still very expensive and not enough. Life in the city is expensive, chances of a scholarship are basically non-existent and therefore it will be hard to enjoy life in the city, let it just be a beer out.
Which is the Top University in 2021?
1 – University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is the 5th top university worldwide and the best university in Europe in the QS Rankings 2021. It is one of the oldest university in the world that operated continuously since teaching started in 1096. Nearly 25,000 students study there. The Offer Rate is of about 19% as of 2017.
In the field of quantitative finance, it is extremely important for any program to comprise both faculty that are academics and also industry practitioners. The Oxford MSc Mathematical Finance program has accomplished both of these. Many senior-level industry practitioners who also regularly publish in academic journals are regular guest lecturers, which provides the students a glimpse of how theory is put into practice. This is definitely a unique offering.
What are the Biggest Changes in the 2021 Rankings vs 2020?
The only big difference in this year’s European rankings compared to 2020 is that Imperial College London and UCL reversed. The University of Oxford tops the list for the third year in a row, being the best university in Europe from 2019 to present. In 2018 it was second to the University of Cambridge.
In the World University Rankings, the University of Manchester, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Cambridge, and ETH Zurich rank respectively 27, 20, 7, and 6, just like last year. The University of Oxford, which ranked 4th last year, is now 5th. On the other hand, Imperial College London, which ranked 9th in 2020, is now 8th. UCL also lost a couple of spots, but still sits in the top 10. EPFL gained four spots, King’s College gained two, and LSE lost 5.
These are the top universities in Europe according to the newest QS World University Rankings 2021. Are you thinking of studying in Europe? EDUopinions experts can help you, free of charge, to find the right programme and institution based on your individual requirements.