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Top 10 Universities in Europe Under 50 Years Old

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As well as many of the oldest institutions in the world, universities in Europe also include some of the youngest and most vibrant. This is reflected in the latest edition of the QS Top 50 Under 50, which showcases 50 of the highest-performing young universities around the globe, based on the most recent QS World University Tops®.

The Top 50 Under 50 features 19 universities in Europe. The European country with the most high-ranking young universities is Spain, which has six institutions featured. Here are the top ten across Europe.

1. Aalto University, Finland

Aalto University

Finland’s Aalto University is the highest-ranked of the top young universities in Europe, coming seventh in the QS Top 50 Under 50. Aalto University is in Helsinki and Espoo and was established in 2010 by the merger of three universities: Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design Helsinki. Named after prominent Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto, the university is currently ranked joint 137th in the QS World University Tops®.

2. CentraleSupélec, France


Ranked ninth in the Top 50 Under 50 this year and 177th in the world, the French CentraleSupélec was established in 2015 by the merging of two leading engineering grandes écoles: École Centrale Paris and Supélec. CentraleSupélec is considered one of the best universities in France for engineering and technology (featuring within the top 100 for this subject area in the QS World University Tops by Subject 2017) and is also known for its research.

3. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

The first Spanish entry is the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, ranked 10th in the Top 50 Under 50 and 187th in the QS World University Tops®, up 23 places from last year.  Established in 1968 during one of Spain’s most ambitious educational reforms, it’s located about 15 kilometers north of Madrid – renowned for its traditional food, culture and art, as well as the passionate character of the madrileños themselves.

4. Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa, Italy

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa

A new entry in the QS World University Tops® this year, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa is ranked 11th in the Top 50 Under 50 and joint 192nd in the world. It was founded in 1987 from previously existing institutions which dated back to the 18th century, and today is considered particularly prestigious for applied sciences, as well as being well known for its strong research impact.

5. Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain

Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona

Heading back to Spain for the next of our top universities in Europe under 50 years old, and Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona is ranked 12th in the Top 50 Under 50 this year and joint 195th in the world. Founded in 1968, UAB was named a Campus of International Excellence in 2009, and a quarter of the university’s master’s degrees are offered in English.

6. Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Maastricht University

The Netherlands’ Maastricht University is ranked 13th in this year’s Top 50 Under 50. The city of Maastricht is in the far south of the Netherlands, nestled between the Belgian and German borders – a multilingual and multinational hub which is perfect for international students. The university itself is ranked 200th in the QS World University Tops 2018, and is the second-youngest institution in the Netherlands, founded in 1976.

7. University of Antwerp, Belgium

University of Antwerp

Formed in 1971 from a merger of three existing Belgian universities, the University of Antwerp currently has 21,100 students, of which 13% are international.  Coming 14th in the Top 50 Under 50 rankings, the University of Antwerp also ranks joint 210th in the world. Antwerp is Belgium’s second-largest city, famous for its cathedral and a lively arts and entertainment scene, while its cobbled streets and riverside cafés provide a modish contrast to its fashion-forward locals and lively club culture.

8. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Another Spanish entrant located in Barcelona is the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, ranked 25th in the Top 50 Under 50 and 275th in the World University Tops, up 46 places from last year. Founded in 1971, the university is now the largest engineering institution in Catalonia, with around 30,000 students in 21 schools located in Barcelona and six other nearby Catalan cities.

9. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Back in Madrid, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid is ranked 27th in the Top 50 Under 50 and 281st in the world in 2018. Established by an act of Spanish Parliament in 1989, the university has a distinctly international profile, with a broad range of programs taught in English, and many students who come from outside of Spain, particularly at graduate level.

10. Linköping UniversitySweden

Linköping University

We end our list of the top 10 universities in Europe under 50 years old with Linköping University, which is ranked 28th in the Top 50 Under 50 and joint 287th in the world. Founded in 1969, it’s grown to become one of Sweden’s largest universities, with approximately 27,000 students enrolled at four campuses. It’s mainly located in the city of Linköping in the south of Sweden, around 150 kilometers from Stockholm.

This article was originally published in February 2014. It was updated in September 2016 and again in July 2017 to incorporate the latest ranking results.

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