The height of higher education: Some stats on the world's top universities

As students everywhere pack their cars full of everything they'll need for the new university term, now seems like the perfect time to look a little deeper at the world's top higher education institutions. While the lecture theatres and halls of residence might seem packed, if you're currently attending university you're actually in a minority, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

When it comes to people taking advantage of tertiary education – defined by the OECD as universities or other institutions providing further training and education beyond school age – the numbers are relatively low.  Here are the top ten countries for higher education according to the percentage of the population aged 25-64 who have completed tertiary education…

The QS guide to World University Rankings in 2016 placed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at number one, with an overall score of 97.1 out of 100 according to their criteria based on academic and employer reputation and research impact. Here are the top ten universities in the world accoridng to QS:

While it's clear from this list that the United States leads the field when it comes to the top universtities, it's interesting to break down where the top 50 universities are by country:

So for the highest quality of university experience, it seems the United States is your best bet, followed by the UK and Hong Kong.

Of course, it’s always difficult to compare like with like because education systems vary so wildly across the world and some have more of a reputation than others for specific subjects.  We can’t all get into the elite universities and onto the best courses, but wherever you’re off to and whatever you’re studying – be it dentistry in Indonesia or literature in the USA – enjoy your first term and remember you’re in a special and privileged minority.