Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina
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Duke University (United States)
Duke University, located in the US state of North Carolina, is one of the wealthiest private universities in America and a top producer of international scholars.
It was founded in 1838 as Trinity College but became known as Duke University only in 1924 after the Duke Endowment was established. The university describes itself as younger than most other prestigious research universities in the country.
The original campus was rebuilt in Georgian architecture as is now known as East Campus, after the 1930 addition of West Campus, Gothic in style and home to the impressive Duke Chapel tower.
There are 10 schools and colleges; the oldest is Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, founded in 1859, and the youngest is the Nicholas School of the Environment, established just 25 years ago.
About 95 per cent of all students graduate within four years of enrolling. In the 2015 entry class, the most popular majors were public policy, economics, biology, biomedical engineering and psychology.
Sports and performance art both thrive at Duke University, which competes in athletics and basketball, and hosts more than 60 art events a year.
In 2014, Duke Kunshan University opened in China, with the aim of integrating liberal arts education with Chinese tradition. Duke also has a partnership with the National University of Singapore to collaborate on a joint medical programme, which took its first students in 2007.
Overall, the university is one of the most competitive to get into. For the “Class of 2019” cohort, only 11.4 per cent of the applicants received a place.
Unusually, the university requires undergraduates to live on campus for the first three years. More than 75 per cent of the students also pursue volunteering opportunities, supporting the university’s mission, “knowledge in service to society”.
The most notable alumnus is Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States. He graduated from Duke University with a law degree in 1937. Duke alumni also head many Fortune 500 companies including Apple, Cisco Systems, JPMorgan Chase and PepsiCo.
Melinda Gates, who co-founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband, also attended the university.
The alumni community also includes prominent novelists such as William Styron, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Confessions of Nat Turner and also wrote Sophie’s Choice, and Anne Tyler, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons.
The university has an extensive private research library network, with three libraries on its West Campus, two on its East Campus, a library at the marine laboratory and separate libraries for business, divinity, law and medicine.
Stanford University(United States)
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Jane and Leland Stanford, “to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.” Since opening in 1891, Stanford’s faculty and students have worked to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world through the discovery and application of knowledge. Breakthroughs at Stanford include the first successful heart-lung transplant, the debut of the computer mouse, and the development of digital music.
Situated on 8,180 acres, Stanford is one of the largest campuses in the United States with 18 interdisciplinary research institutes and seven schools on a single campus: Graduate School of Business; School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Graduate School of Education; School of Engineering; School of Humanities and Sciences; Law School; and School of Medicine.
Stanford has more than 16,300 students, 2,180 faculty and 1,800 postdoctoral scholars. Stanford is an international institution, enrolling students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 90 other countries. It is also an athletics powerhouse, with 900 current student-athletes and a history of 137 national championships and 23 consecutive Directors’ Cups, awarded to the top intercollegiate athletics program in the nation.
Stanford counts 19 Nobel laureates within its community today and numerous famous alumni associated with the university from the worlds of art, social sciences, business, politics, humanities, media, sports and technology. The 31st president of the US, Herbert Hoover, was part of the first class at Stanford, and received a degree in geology in 1895. The alumni include 17 astronauts, 18 Turing Award recipients and two Fields Medalists.
In total, companies founded by Stanford affiliates and alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion annual revenue, which would be the 10th largest economy in the world. These companies include Google, Nike, Netflix, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Instagram and Charles Schwab. Stanford alumni also have founded nonprofit organizations like Kiva and SIRUM. The first American woman to go into space, Sally Ride, received an undergraduate degree in physics from Stanford in 1973. Just 10 years later, she made her ascent into space.
Stanford’s official seal contains the German words, “Die Luft der Freiheit weht”, which translates as “the wind of freedom blows”.
Yale University(United States)
Yale University is a private Ivy League research university which is the third-oldest higher education institution in the US.
Yale traces its history back to 1701, when it was founded as the Collegiate School in Saybrook, Connecticut, which moved to New Haven 15 years later.
In 1718 it was renamed Yale College, in honour of Welsh benefactor Elihu Yale, and it was the first university in the US to award a PhD, in 1861.
Yale’s central campus covers 260 acres of New Haven, and includes buildings dating back to the mid-18th century.
The university is made up of 14 schools, and students follow a liberal arts curriculum, covering humanities and arts, sciences and social sciences before choosing a departmental major. Students also receive instruction in writing skills, quantitative reasoning and foreign languages.
Unusually for the US, Yale students are housed in residential colleges on the model of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. There are 12 historic colleges, and construction of two more started in 2014.
Around one in five students is international, and more than half of all undergraduates receive scholarships or grants from the university.
Yale has an endowment that exceeds $25 billion (£17.3 billion), making it the second-richest educational institution in the world, and a library that holds more than 15 million volumes, making it the third-largest in the US.
Yale alumni and sports teams are known as “Bulldogs”, and many Yale graduates have gone on to notable careers in politics, the arts and science.
Four Yale graduates signed the American Declaration of Independence, and the university has educated five US presidents: William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Twenty Yale alumni have won Nobel prizes, including economist Paul Krugman, while 32 have won the Pulitzer Prize.
Other notable alumni include US secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and actress Meryl Streep.
Yale’s campus includes many famous buildings, such as the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Sterling Memorial Library.
New Haven is a city of about 130,000 people, located two and a half hours south of Boston, and an hour and a half north of New York. It has many shops, museums and restaurants, and is close to beaches, hiking trails and historic attractions.
Univerity of Chicago
Graduate students across five divisions and six professional schools test their ideas with other UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.
Graduate students across five divisions and six professional schools test their ideas with other UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government
By uniting diverse faculty and students for more than a century, the University of Chicago has fostered one of the most unique—and decorated—intellectual communities in the world. Faculty, researchers, and alumni have earned 90 Nobel Prizes and 50 MacArthur “genius grants”—along with numerous other national medals and fellowships.
Our creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.
UChicago researchers and scholars transform the way we see the world.
As anchors for teaching and research in Europe and Asia, our global University centers host exciting and innovative academic programs, conferences, and public lectures, as well as events that offer opportunities to meet alumni and other friends of UChicago. As academic homes for our own students and faculty, as well as alumni, visiting scholars, and the public, the centers are forums for exchange, dialogue, and collaboration.
The University manages Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has direct oversight of the Marine Biological Laboratory, and is a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization. These relationships connect UChicago faculty and students to world-leading researchers and facilities.
- Argonne National Laboratory
- Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
- Marine Biological Laboratory
- Giant Magellan Telescope Organization
Innovation and impact
The University is bent on generating new insights for the benefit of present and future generations. UChicago researchers have led such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling.
The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation drives venture creation and technology commercialization at UChicago. Through education, partnerships, and new venture support, the Polsky Center advances the knowledge and practice of entrepreneurship, accelerates the commercialization of research, and helps the UChicago community navigate the complex process of creating and growing a startup.
University of Cambridge
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research institution. Its 800-year history makes it the fourth-oldest surviving university in the world and the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world.
Cambridge serves more than 18,000 students from all cultures and corners of the world. Nearly 4,000 of its students are international and hail from over 120 different countries. In addition, the university’s International Summer Schools offer 150 courses to students from more than 50 countries.
The university is split into 31 autonomous colleges where students receive small group teaching sessions known as college supervisions.
Six schools are spread across the university’s colleges, housing roughly 150 faculties and other institutions. The six schools are: Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Technology.
The campus is located in the centre of the city of Cambridge, with its numerous listed buildings and many of the older colleges situated on or near the river Cam.
The university is home to over 100 libraries, which, between them, hold more than 15 million books in total. In the main Cambridge University library alone, which is a legal depository, there are eight million holdings. The university also owns nine arts, scientific and cultural museums that are open to the public throughout the year, as well as a botanical garden.
Cambridge University Press is a non-school institution and operates as the university’s publishing business. With over 50 offices worldwide, its publishing list is made up of 45,000 titles spanning academic research, professional development, research journals, education and bible publishing.
In total, 92 affiliates of the university have been awarded Nobel Prizes, covering every category.
The university’s endowment is valued at nearly £6 billion.
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second oldest surviving university. While its exact founding date is unknown, there is evidence that teaching took place as far back as 1096.
Located in and around Oxford’s medieval city centre, the university comprises 44 colleges and halls, and over 100 libraries, making it the largest library system in the UK.
Students number around 22,000 in total, just over half of whom are undergraduates while over 40 per cent are international, representing 140 countries between them.
Called the ‘city of dreaming spires’ by Victorian poet, Matthew Arnold, Oxford has the youngest population of any city in England and Wales: nearly a quarter of its residents are university students, which gives Oxford a noticeable buzz.
Oxford has an alumni network of over 250,000 individuals, including more than 120 Olympic medallists, 26 Nobel Prize winners, seven poets laureate, and over 30 modern world leaders (Bill Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Indira Ghandi and 26 UK Prime Ministers, among them).
The university is associated with 11 winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, five in physics and 16 in medicine. Notable Oxford thinkers and scientists include Tim Berners-Lee, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins. The actors Hugh Grant and Rosamund Pike also went to Oxford, as did the writers Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene, Vikram Seth and Philip Pullman.
Oxford’s first international student, named Emo of Friesland, was enrolled in 1190, while the modern day university prides itself on having an ‘international character’ with connections to almost every country in the world and 40% of its faculty drawn from overseas.
As a modern, research-driven university, Oxford has numerous strengths but cites particular prowess in the sciences, having recently ranked number one in the world for medicine (if its Medical Sciences division was a university in its own right, it would be the fourth largest in the UK) and among the top ten universities globally for life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities.
University of Melbourne
This is australia’s number one university. The University of Melbourne is the leading centre of higher education and research in Australia. Founded in 1853, it’s situated in the heart of the world’s most liveable cities.
With a strong research performance, excellence in learning and teaching, and intellectual and social capital, the University is consistently positioned with the world’s leading universities and currently ranked number one in Australia and number 32 in the world.
At a glance
- 8,500+ staff
- 65,000+ students
- 36% of student body international students from over 100 countries
- 385,000 + alumni, 50,000 of whom live overseas in more than 170 countries
- $475 million research income in 2017
- Australia’s largest cohort of research students
- Seven campuses
- Located in the heart of the Parkville precinct – Australia’s largest concentration of medical research institutes, hospitals and biotechnology companies
- Distinctive Melbourne Model curriculum offers different study path from most Australian universities, with 11 undergraduate degrees in nearly 100 major fields of study and 270 professional graduate degrees
- 11.3 – No of students per staff
- 40 – Percentage of international students
- 56.19 – Student ratio of females to males
- 65,000 – Number of students
UCL (United kingdom)
UCL was founded in 1826 to bring higher education to those who were typically excluded from it. In 1878, it became the first university in England to admit women on equal terms as men.
Located in the heart of London, UCL is a constituent college of the University of London and a member of the Russell Group, with approximately 850 professors and over 6,000 academic and research staff.
UCL comprises 11 faculties: Arts and Humanities, Built Environment, Brain Sciences, Engineering, the Institute of Education, Laws, Life Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Medical Sciences, Population Health Sciences, and Social and Historical Sciences.
Throughout its history, UCL has been the birthplace of numerous significant scientific discoveries, with 29 Nobel Prizes awarded to UCL students or staff, including William Ramsay, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 for his discovery of the noble gases.
In addition, the UCL academic community includes 53 Fellows of the Royal Society, 51 Fellows of the British Academy, 15 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and 117 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
The student body is nearly 36,000-strong and UCL has one of the largest systems of postgraduate study in the country. Nearly 52 per cent of students are engaged in graduate studies.
Students hail from approximately 150 countries worldwide making up more than one-third of the university’s entire student population.
UCL was the first British university to open a campus in Doha, Qatar, where it runs a centre for the study of cultural heritage. It also has a presence in Adelaide, South Australia, which includes a space science and an energy policy institute.
UCL alumni include film director Derek Jarman, the writer Lynne Truss, Baroness Patricia Scotland, who became the UK’s first female Attorney General, and Marie Stopes, who founded Britain’s first family planning clinic.
The university’s Latin motto translates as ‘Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward.
Dating back to 1636, Harvard University is the oldest university in the US and is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the world.
It was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard, who left his library and half his estate to the institution when he died in 1638.
The private Ivy League institution has connections to more than 45 Nobel laureates, over 30 heads of state and 48 Pulitzer prizewinners. It has more than 323,000 living alumni, including over 271,000 in the US and nearly 52,000 in 201 other countries. Thirteen US presidents have honorary degrees from the institution; the most recent of these was awarded to John F. Kennedy in 1956.
Faculty members who have been awarded a Nobel prize in recent years include chemist Martin Karplus and economist Alvin Roth, while notable alumni who were given the honour include former US vice-president Al Gore, who won the Peace Prize in 2007, and poet Seamus Heaney, who was a professor at Harvard from 1981 to 1997.
Situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard’s 5,000-acre campus houses 12 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, two theatres and five museums. It is also home to the largest academic library in the world, with 20.4 million volumes, 180,000 serial titles, an estimated 400 million manuscript items, 10 million photographs, 124 million archived web pages and 5.4 terabytes of born-digital archives and manuscripts.
There are more than 400 student organisations on campus, and Harvard’s medical school is connected to 10 hospitals.
The university receives one of the largest financial endowments of any higher education institution in the world; it created $1.5 billion in the fiscal year ended June 2013 – more than a third of Harvard’s total operating revenue in that year.
Harvard’s official colour is crimson, following a vote in 1910, after two student rowers provided crimson scarves to their teammates so that spectators could differentiate the university’s team during a regatta in 1858.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto (UoT) is among the world’s most prestigious universities. Founded in 1827, it offers over 700 undergraduate degree and 200 postgraduate degree programmes to a cohort of almost 60,000 students.
With a longstanding reputation for innovation and research, UoT was the birthplace of such ground-breaking scientific moments as the discovery of insulin and stem cell research, and the invention of the electron microscope.
The university also cites teaching as a strength in disciplines spanning medicine, business, engineering, humanities, education, and more.
With a reputation for producing leaders, UoT counts five Canadian prime ministers among its former students and associations with ten Nobel laureates. Other notable alumni include the actor Donald Sutherland and the writers Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.
UoT is a multi-campus university, with its St George campus in downtown Toronto likened to Oxford and Cambridge on account of its mix of green space and historical architecture.
The university’s Mississauga campus, on the banks of the Credit River to the west of the city, includes 225 acres of protected green belt, while its Scarborough campus is home to a new aquatics centre.
The university attracts many sports fans and boasts a fearsome reputation in both football and ice-hockey. Other campus attractions include more than 1,000 student organisations in addition to a recreational centre and student facilities that include an art gallery, theatre and concert hall.
Toronto itself is one of the most dynamic, vibrant cities in the world, one which places a high priority on arts and culture, and diversity and tolerance.
The city is also major international centre for business and finance, and is the third largest hub for film and television production after Los Angeles and New York.
With international students enrolled from around 160 countries, UoT prides itself on being as cosmopolitan and multicultural as the city it inhabits.
Laying claim to a global mindset, the university actively partners with other leading higher education institutions and industry partners around the world to provide international op-portunities to its students and faculty.
Top law universities in the world
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