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 by Chantelle Francis
, posted on 23 Sep '16

Europe's Top Postgraduate Study Destinations for 2017

Heading into the last year of your Bachelors? Now may be the time to start deciding on postgraduate study. That doesn’t just mean deciding what to study. It also means thinking about where to study.

And is staying at home always the best option? Brexit may be hogging the headlines, but Europe will still be open to UK postgraduates next year – and its universities have a lot to offer.

Of course, widening your search to include overseas countries is great – until you realise you’ve now got hundreds more universities to consider. So, how do you narrow the search?

One way is to use our detailed international study guides. Another is to look at university rankings. In fact, the latest edition of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings has just been published this week.

In light of post-Brexit fears, you may be pleasantly surprised to hear that the UK is home to four of the top 5 universities in Europe. Now that’s pretty impressive.

In it to win it

So, which European countries - alongside the UK - hold the top spot for 2017? We’ve selected the top 5 countries in Europe, based on the top 50 European universities in the Times Higher Education rankings.

#1 – The United Kingdom

As mentioned, the UK has done very well in the latest THE rankings – regardless of any effect Brexit may or may not have.

The UK boasts 15 universities out of the top 50, with the University of Oxford being no.1 in the UK, Europe, and the world! Cambridge comes in at a close second within Europe (and also holds 4th place in the world rankings).

The south doesn’t have it all, though. The University of Manchester ranks 15th place in Europe, and The University of Sheffield is a solid 42nd.

There are just under a whopping 430,000 international students in the UK. That’s 19% of all students in higher education! And what’s more, around 40% of all postgraduates in the country are non-UK students.

#2 – Germany

One of the world’s economic giants, it’s no surprise that Germany’s steadfast education system is climbing up the ladder too.

Germany isn’t far behind the UK, with 12 universities in the top 50 EU rank. The city of Munich hosts two of the higher ranking universities: LMU Munich in 9th place, and the Technical University of Munich in 14th. Both these universities are also in Germany’s top three higher education institutions.

Home to over 210,000 students, from around 130 countries, it’s no surprise that Germany has scored highly. In fact, most of its universities have achieved a high score for internationalisation.

Postgraduate research degrees are extremely popular in Germany, and this is reflected in the innovative disposition if its students and academics. 13 Nobel prizes have been awarded to academics affiliated with the Technical University of Munich alone.

#3 – Netherlands

With 8 universities in the top 50 of the European ranking, the Netherlands has a lot to brag about.

The Netherland’s top three universities in the EU selection are Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam and Wageningen University and Research Center. They hold the 17th, 18th, and 19th respectively, with the first two being in the Netherlands’ top 3.

Hosting just under 70,000 international students, the Netherlands is a highly popular study abroad destination for postgraduate students. It’s also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and also boasts a rich academic history dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

And Dutch universities are no stranger to foreign students and scholars: its universities have hosted international thinkers as important as Rene Descartes and Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit.

#4 – Switzerland

International tolerance and excellence in all areas of academic research make Switzerland one of the world’ most popular study abroad destinations. In fact, as a provider of higher education for 50,000 international students, it’s no wonder that Switzerland has 5 universities in the European top 50.

Switzerland is a large investor in higher education and provides world-renowned postgraduate degrees in all academic fields. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) holds 4th place in the European rankings, and 9th place in the world. One of history’s most influential scientists, Albert Einstein, was both a graduate and professor of this university.

And if the sciences are your subject of choice, you’re certainly in luck. Swiss scientists are the most productive in the globe, with the highest number of publications per researcher than any other country.

#5 – Sweden

Sweden can boast 3 universities in the European top 50. The Karolinska Institute holds 8th place in the EU rank, while Uppsala University and Lund University are in the top 100 of the global ranking. Uppsala University, established in 1477, was the first to be founded within both Sweden and the whole of Scandinavia.

The higher education system in Sweden is highly fluid, with universities being able to select large parts of their own curriculums. As such, it makes a popular postgraduate study destination, hosting around 30,000 international students each year.

Sweden is also the founder of the prestigious Nobel Prize, creating 30 Nobel laureates over the years. Innovation, creativity, and diversity will be the top of the agenda for you as a postgraduate in Sweden. Enjoy listening to Spotify? This is where it was invented.

Interested in a Masters in one of these countries? Why not find out more about postgraduate study in Europe? You can also read our guide to postgraduate rankings, or check out the full THE league table for 2016-17.