The rankings released on Wednesday by Times Higher Education picked the best 200 universities worldwide that are 50 years old or younger.
Germany had 11 institutions on the list, including five institutions in the top 30.
“Germany also leads a new ‘millennial’ table of the best universities founded after 2000, with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in first place and the University of Duisburg-Essen at joint third, suggesting that it has a promising future in the Under 50 list in the years to come,” said THE rankings editor Phil Baty in a statement.
Baty further noted Germany’s big investment in higher education in recent years, including its €4.6 billion Excellence Initiative, which was launched in 2006 to help launch its academic institutions into the “global research elite”.
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“Federal and state funding for higher education has increased by more than €8 billion between 2005 and 2013 to reach €26.7 billion,” Baty added. “It spends 2.9 per cent of its GDP on research and development – more than the UK, US and China.
“Germany’s great strength in depth and claim of high positions in the table will serve it well in the years to come.”
1. Ulm University
Photo: Ulm University Press Office.
It’s perhaps not so surprising the this university in the birthplace of Albert Einstein places a major emphasis on the science. Founded in 1967, it ranked eighth worldwide among “young” universities, and leaped up above others from its place at 13th last year.
Part of this improvement in the rankings is due to the “dramatically improved” scores for research, environment and industry income, Baty said.
Ulm has a focus on medicine and natural sciences, and master’s students often work on their theses closely with major corporations like BMW, Daimler or Continental.
2. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Atmospheric aerosol researchers at KIT. Photo: DPA
Another Baden-Württemberg institute, KIT was ranked ninth overall and tied with Italy’s Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. In a prior THE ranking last year of the best universities for landing a job, KIT came in 81st place worldwide, and seventh in Germany.
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It was only founded in 2009 after a merger of the University of Karlsruhe and the Karlsruhe Research Center. However, its predecessor the University of Karlsruhe dates back to 1825. So this one perhaps had a bit of a leg-up on the others in the rankings.
The University of Karlsruhe produced Karl Benz - the inventor of what is considered to be the first practical motorcar. And another former student was Karl Ferdinand Braun, creator of the cathode ray tube used in televisions.
3. University of Duisburg-Essen
Another young, merger university, this institute is made up of two former universities in the Ruhr valley that joined in 2003. Its position in the rankings shot up to 13th place worldwide from 17th in 2016.
It’s also one of the largest German universities with more than 40,000 students, 12 percent of whom are international.
4. Bielefeld University
It might be hard to believe that a town that allegedly doesn’t exist somehow has a university, ranked 22nd by THE. But since 1969, this institute has indeed established itself as an interdisciplinary research facility.
It is particularly noted for its mathematics, engineering and technology programmes.
5. Bayreuth University
This Bavarian university comes in at number 29 and was founded in 1975. Bayreuth University has a commitment to maintaining an “international outlook”, according to THE. One in four of its doctoral researchers are non-German, and there is even an International Office dedicated to helping foreign students adjust to German life.
One of its notable graduates is Auma Obama - the half sister of the former US President.
6. University of Bremen
Founded in 1971, this Bremen university first started with the aim of training teachers. But now it offers a wide range of programmes, from engineering to the humanities.
It prides itself in particular on its scientific departments, specifically ocean and climate research, materials science, information-cognition-communication, social sciences, health sciences, and logistics. The University of Bremen was ranked 41 worldwide for young universities.
7. Technical University of Dortmund
Dating back to 1968, this Ruhr valley uni’s formation came amid changing economic times for the area.
“It was established at a time of decline in the country’s coal and steel industry and its emergence coincided with an economic shift away from heavy industry and towards technology,” writes THE.
"Today, TU is known for its innovation in physics, electrical engineering, chemistry and economics.”
It was ranked 45 worldwide by THE.
8. University of Kaiserslautern
This research-based university, founded in 1970, is the only sole technology and natural sciences uni in its state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Some of its key areas of focus include electrotechnology, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science.
THE ranked Kaiserslautern 62nd worldwide.
9. University of Siegen
Photo: University of Siegen Press Office.
This uni dating back to 1972 has a motto of “creating a humane future”. The North Rhine-Westphalia institute is primarily a research university, and was ranked 68 by THE, not having made it onto the list last year.
Its notable alumni include Siemens energy sector CEO Wolfgang Dehen, as well as boxing Olympian Peter Hussing and German-Canadian filmmaker Uwe Boll, who has been called the “world’s worst director”.
Another fun fact cite by THE: the town Siegen is home to the world’s smallest museum of Beatles memorabilia.
10. Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg
This relative baby of universities was only founded in 1993, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and end to the Cold War when its state of Saxony-Anhalt in former East Germany became reunited with the rest of the country.
The university, ranked lower than 100 by THE, focuses on engineering, natural sciences, medicine, economics, management, social sciences and humanities.
But despite existing for a little over two decades, the Magdeburg university has produced such prominent international dignitaries as former Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister Rumiana Jeleva.
11. University of Paderborn
Though the original University of Paderborn existed between 1614 and 1819, the modern incarnation opened in 1972. It was ranked below 100 by THE.
Its Faculty of Cultural Sciences is the largest, and includes crossover teaching in gender studies, comparative theology and linguistics. The Heinz Nixdorf Institute has one of the largest computers in the world.