Universities and Higher Education in Europe

Universities in Europe

Higher Education in Europe


What are the most popular Universities in each European country? uniRank answers this question by publishing a list of European countries and providing a ranking of their higher-education institutions meeting the following uniRank selection criteria:

  • being chartered, licensed or accredited by the appropriate higher education-related organization in each country
  • offering at least three-year bachelor's degrees or postgraduate master's or doctoral degrees
  • delivering courses predominantly in a traditional, non-distance education format

UniRank also publishes below a search engine powered by Google that searches all Universities in Europe and a statistical snapshot of higher education in Europe and its current challenges.

European Universities by Country

European Universities Search Engine

search 2,000 universities in Europe

Snapshot of Higher Education in Europe

Higher Education and Universities in Europe

European Universities World Representation

How many Universities are there in Europe? According to the uniRank database in 2023 there are currently 2,706 officially recognized higher-education institutions in Europe. Considering that the uniRank database includes a total number of 13,837 officially recognized higher education institutions the proportion of European Universities in the world is as follows:

  • uniRank European Universities World Representation Index: 19.6%

Being the estimated population of the European continent around 10% of the total world population (source: United Nations' World Population Prospects, the 2015 Revision), the European Higher education system and offerings seem to be strongly overrepresented in the world at least in terms of the number of higher education institutions.

Public vs Private Universities in Europe

How many public and private Universities are there in Europe? Out of the total number of 2,706 recognized higher education institutions in Europe included in the uniRank database, 1,917 (70.8%) are public (i.e. officially affiliated to or run by national, state or local governments) and 760 (28.1%) are private. The type of control of the remaining European Universities included in the uniRank database is unknown or it has not been reported (1%).

In terms of the number of public versus private Universities, the uniRank database shows a much higher presence of public higher education institutions in the European continent as a whole. Moreover, 192 (96%) out of the top 200 Universities in Europe are public higher education institutions. Differences and peculiarities may still exist in each European country's higher education system.

Non-profit vs for-profit Universities in Europe

What type of entities are Universities in Europe? Out of the total number of 2,706 recognized higher education institutions in Europe included in the uniRank database, 2,205 (81.5%) are non-profit and 165 (6.1%) are for-profit. The type of entity of the remaining European Universities included in the uniRank database is unknown or it has not been reported (12.4%). As a general rule, the vast majority of European public higher education institutions are not-for-profit organizations, not necessarily in legal terms but certainly in terms of nature and institutional purposes such as role, scope and mission.

Challenges for the higher education systems in Europe

What are the main challenges that higher education in Europe currently faces? According to uniRank the main issues of the higher education systems in Europe include:

a) Funding: many European countries have been facing financial difficulties in recent years, leading to reduced funding for universities and research institutions. This has made it challenging for these institutions to maintain their standards and attract the best faculty and students.
b) Global competition: with the rise of Asia as a major player in the higher education sector, European universities are facing stiff competition from their counterparts in Asia, especially China and Singapore. This has led to a brain drain of top talent from Europe to Asia.
c) Demographic changes: Europe is facing an aging population and declining birth rates, which means that there will be fewer students entering the higher education system in the coming years. This will make it challenging for universities to maintain their enrolment levels.
d) Employability and relevance: there is a growing demand for graduates who are ready to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge required by employers. This means that universities need to focus on developing programs that are relevant to the needs of the industry and provide students with the skills they need to succeed in the job market.

Addressing the above challenges will require collaboration between European policymakers, higher education institutions, employers and other stakeholders. Some potential solutions include increasing higher education funding and encouraging family-friendly policies to reverse shrinking populations and declining birth rates in European countries; European governments and regional organizations can encourage couples to have more children by providing family-friendly policies such as parental leave, childcare subsidies and tax credits. These policies can alleviate the financial burden of raising a child and make it easier for parents to balance work and family.

Top 200 Universities in Europe

uniRank publishes twice a year a non-academic university ranking of the top 200 Universities in Europe based on valid, unbiased and non-influenceable web metrics provided by independent web intelligence sources. Please read the ranking methodology on the About Us page for more information.