Experiencing a different culture, learning a new language and making friends from around the world – just a few of the reasons why students are choosing to study overseas in growing numbers.

Times Higher Education, producer of the World University Rankings, also rates the top 200 universities in terms of their proportion of international students.

It will come as little surprise that multicultural London, with 16 universities in the top 200, features strongly in the list. Some of the others at the top of the table are perhaps less obvious.

The top picks for international students

Here are the top five universities with the highest percentage of international students in 2017.

1. American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. International students make up 84% of the 5000-strong student body. Some 99 countries are represented on campus.

2. Central European University, Hungary. International students make up 77% of the student body. Students come to the university from over 100 countries across five continents.

3. London School of Economics and Political Science, London. International students make up 70% of the student body. More than 140 countries are represented.

4. Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin. Just over 2000 are enrolled and about 62% are classed as international students.

5. University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Around 55% of students attending are from other European countries and beyond.

Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The lure of studying abroad

The UK is the most-represented country with 72 universities in the top 200, against 27 from the US and 22 from Australia.

Student migration is being driven largely by a desire for the best possible learning environment, however there are a number of other influencing factors at play:

  • Experiencing a new culture. For many students, going to university will be the first time they have lived away from home. Studying abroad allows students to take this new-found freedom to the extreme by giving them the opportunity to try new foods, customs, traditions and social environments.
  • Developing language skills. One of the major draws is the opportunity to learn a foreign language.
  • Boosting career opportunities. Prospective employers often look favourably on candidates who have language skills and have experienced diverse cultures.
  • Making friends from different backgrounds. Another benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds – not just from the host country but also from other nations.
  • Travelling. Studying abroad can provide more opportunities for travel, often to neighbouring countries.