ETH Zurich named top non-UK university in Europe

Switzerland’s federal technology institute ETH Zurich has been named the fourth best university in Europe, the only establishment outside the UK to place in the top five of the prestigious rankings.

ETH Zurich named top non-UK university in Europe
ETH Zurich regularly rates highly in international rankings. Photo: Ed Seymour

Published on Thursday, the Times Higher Education (THE) group’s European Universities Top 200 list is based on its world rankings released in October last year, in which ETH Zurich placed ninth.

The European list is dominated by British universities, which clinched nearly a quarter of places (46) including seven in the top ten.

ETH Zurich was the top non-UK university in the list, placing fourth after Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London.

Speaking to The Local, Lino Guzzella, President of ETH Zurich, said he was proud of the university’s ranking.

“We believe that our outstanding students and our international faculty are the main reasons for this result. Peer recognition is both confirmation and encouragement to continue on our way.”

In a statement, THE said Switzerland was one of several strong performers relative to population size, with a total of nine institutions in the top 200.

ETH Zurich’s sister school EPFL in Lausanne placed 11th, with the universities of Basel, Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg and St Gallen all making the list.

THE editor Phil Baty said that while British universities remained at the top of the rankings, the UK faced tough competition from other European nations which could lead to a “major shake-up in the international student recruitment market”.

“While the market leader, the UK, shoots itself in the foot and faces losing market share over restrictive study and work visa policies, anti-immigration rhetoric and prohibitively high tuition fees, other European countries are poised to capitalize and take more and more of the UK's share of students,” said Baty.

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Why Switzerland has been ranked ‘best country’ in the world once again

Switzerland has again topped the global ‘best country’ rankings, sitting atop the list for the fourth year in a row. Here's why.

Why Switzerland has been ranked 'best country' in the world once again
Photo: Depositphotos

The rankings, put together annually by an American think tank made up of several prominent news and research organisations, placed Switzerland above average in several categories – from conducting business to quality of life. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland, Switzerland again claimed the top ranking – meaning that the neutral alpine nation has been on top of the list every time since it was founded in 2016. 

READ: Switzerland named 'world's best country' in 2019

Other countries to feature on the list were Germany (fourth overall), Sweden (eighth), Norway (tenth), France (12th), Denmark (13th), Italy (17th), Austria (18th) and Spain (19th). 

Switzerland – an all-round ‘best’ country

Switzerland finds itself on the top of the rankings for the fourth year in a row, followed by Canada, Japan, Germany and Australia. 

With the rankings starting off in 2016, no other country has ever been named on top. 

READ: Why Switzerland always ranks as one of the best places in the world to live 

Switzerland’s position at the top of the rankings is due to the country’s all-rounder status rather than any one metric. 

Indeed, Switzerland does not rank first in any of the six major categories in the rankings – most powerful, best to start a business, quality of life, for women, for education and green-living.

In fact, Switzerland is only in the top three of one of those six categories (second place in the green-living section). 

Why Swiss is best

Switzerland scored high in several reputational metrics, particularly surrounding its business sector. 

Switzerland scored high with regard to political and economic stability, transparency and equality. 

READ: International rankings showcase Switzerland's school struggles

Switzerland was also ranked second best in the world for conducting business and was considered the second-most trustworthy country. 

Rankings of Swiss quality of life and value of citizenship were also strong, both placing at seventh in the world. 

As noted by the authors of the report, “Switzerland has low unemployment, a skilled labor force and one of the highest gross domestic products per capita in the world…” 

“The country’s strong economy is powered by low corporate tax rates, a highly-developed service sector led by financial services and a high-tech manufacturing industry.”

Image: Depositphotos

Where improvements are necessary

As always, cost of living is a major concern for Switzerland. 

Switzerland failed to rank in the top 20 for ‘best countries to start a career’ and ‘best countries to invest in’. 

Switzerland was also ranked only 16th when it came to being the ‘most influential’.  

The report

The rankings are a joint project by digital news service US News & World Report, marketing company Y&R and the Wharton School, a business school at the University of Pennsylvania.

The report takes into account 73 countries from all across the globe, making assessments in a range of categories such as economic influence, military might, education and quality of life. 

The country named the “best” is considered to wield the most influence on a global scale. 


The 2020 rankings were based on a survey of just over 20,000 people comprising business leaders, ‘informed elites' and the general public in dozens of target countries. 

According to the makers of the survey, the Best Countries project is designed to “help citizens, business leaders and policymakers better understand how their nations are perceived on a world scale.”

Top ten

1. Switzerland

2. Canada 

3. Japan

4. Germany

5. Australia

6. United Kingdom 

7. United States 

8. Sweden  

9. Netherlands  

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10. Norway