International students on the TU Noord, TU Delft, Delta.
Besides the number of international students and employees, the THE ranking also takes the percentage of scientific publications with at least one international author and the reputation of the university in other countries into account. (Photo: RvT)

While the debate on capping internationalisation at the TU Delft continues, the British education magazine, Times Higher Education, (THE) ranked TU Delft as the most international university in the Netherlands. What is also striking is that the University of Maastricht did not even make the top 200 of this global ranking.

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On Wednesday, THE published a ranking of the world’s most global universities, based on data from the World University Ranking 2018 in September. Besides simply looking at the number of international students and employees, the ranking also looked at the number of academic publications with at least one international author, and the reputation of the university in other countries.


Based on these four indicators, each of which count for 25%, Switzerland is at the top of the list, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia. These five countries collectively hold the ten most international universities in the world. According to THE, they are open to foreign students and scientists, and they value international cooperation. Of the Dutch universities, TU Delft has the highest score. The university, which is sixty-third in THE’s annual ranking, is in eighteenth place in terms of internationalisation, followed by Erasmus University in Rotterdam at forty-second place, and the University of Amsterdam at sixty-second place. TU Delft’s high ranking comes at a time when the debate about limiting internationalisation is rising. The debate follows the stop on non-EU students for the bachelor of Computer Science and Engineering. This year, so many students applied that the university was forced to close the preliminary registration for non-EU students in order to maintain the quality of the study.

Follow the debate under #internationalisation-debate


The Dutch internationalisation organisation, Nuffic, also ranked the most international institutions in the Netherlands recently. That ranking put the University of Maastricht, with as high as 58% international students, at the first place by a long margin. The difference in the ranking between Nuffic and THE is explained by the indicators that the rankings took into account. Nuffic only looked at the percentage of international students, while THE also considered other factors such as international reputation. Phil Baty, responsible for rankings at THE, says that Maastricht did not make the list because it only just failed to meet the minimum requirements. “Maastricht is a strong, international university, but our algorithms did not permit it. We had to draw the line somewhere.”

During the selection, THE also considered the geographical location of the institutions. Maastricht’s proximity to the Belgian and German borders might have been a disadvantage for the university. THE tried to avoid ranking institutions that attract a lot of international students because they have an opportune location. Instead, the magazine focused on internationally oriented institutions with a ‘global footprint’.

The University of Maastricht has not responded to the ranking.