The fields of science are as diverse as they are lucrative and fulfilling. Science graduates earn significantly more than many of their peers, and have an easier time finding employment. They also have the opportunity to make the most difference, from inventing new drugs that save lives to building computer programs that make impossible tasks manageable. The world has an endless supply of complex problems, and it takes a sharp-minded science graduate to solve them.
Since the value of a science degree is beyond doubt, the question then shifts to where one should study science. This is easily resolved: Europe, of course. The continent is one of the birthplaces of scientific inquiry, harking back to ancient Greece through the Age of Enlightenment to the present day.
Many of history’s greatest scientists lived and worked in Europe, including Blaise Pascal, Carl Linnaeus, and Niels Bohr. The thermometer was invented here, as was the microscope and telescope. This long and illustrious tradition in scientific endeavour thoroughly informs the continent’s great universities and its contemporary scholars.
Image courtesy of the University of Southern Denmark
Teaching and research methods that have been honed over centuries form the bedrock of the Europe curriculum. It’s no wonder European universities are among the best in the world; its scientific faculties and departments rivalling those across the Atlantic. European Union universities award 111,000 new doctorates each year – nearly twice the amount produced in the United States.
Because European universities are held in such high esteem, their degrees promise a smoother transition into the working world and rapid career advancement in the long term. To many employers, whether in large pharmaceutical firms or prestigious research organizations, European education is a stamp of approval which grants its bearer a massive reservoir of credibility.
The scientific prestige held by European universities is in large part due to their large endowments, generous funding, and impressive research budgets. The European Union, national governments, and other organizations pour billions into universities, allowing them to construct state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, and undertake cutting-edge studies in every imaginable field.
Students can look forward to using the latest and most advanced equipment, and being involved in research that pushes the limits of what’s possible. CERN’s famous Large Hadron Collider (LHC), for example, is a symbol of Europe’s global scientific leadership. By exposing themselves to this thriving intellectual environment, students emerge as mature thinkers and researchers.
CERN LHC Tunnel. Image via Wikipedia
Large endowments attract the best minds from all over the continent, and indeed the world. This is made even easier by the European Union’s freedom of movement rules, allowing top European scientists to move between countries and collaborate with one another. Students will have the opportunity to learn from and conduct research alongside the world’s top scientists and scholars. Students will also be treated to lectures, seminars, and scientific conferences featuring these luminaries.
Also, since most Europeans speak English as a second language, communication and collaboration are much easier than in other regions. Students will be able to brush up on their English and engage in fruitful exchanges of ideas. Loose borders between EU nations also mean that students can easily travel to nearby countries to attend scientific events or even for leisure purposes.
Additionally, students will be able to network and connect with future employers. Europe is home to many of the world’s biggest and most prestigious firms. From aerospace companies to pharmaceutical firms to agricultural giants, students will be spoilt for choice when it comes to potential career paths. Many European universities maintain excellent relations with industry stakeholders, making work placements relatively easy to arrange. Through these placements, students will be able apply their skills in real-life work situations, building an impressive resume and providing a possible path to a permanent job within the company concerned.
Image courtesy of Maastricht University
With all that said, students considering scientific education in the Europe have plenty of universities to choose from. As a useful starting point, here are a few of the best science faculties and universities in Europe:
Established in 1966, the University of Southern Denmark has acquired a sterling reputation in both scientific education and research. Its Faculty of Science specialises in research on water and the environment, high energy physics, first life on earth, operator algebra, efficient algorithms, synthetic biology, future pharmaceuticals, and proteomics, where the university is second to none. The faculty offers a range of bachelors and masters programmes, as a PhD programme, covering a wide range of fields including biology, biomedicine, molecular bioscience, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and physics.
The faculty employs 250 academic staff members, half of whom are non-Danish – a testament to the faculty’s strong international outlook in both teaching and research. The university as a whole is well-regarded for its academic and research performance – several international studies reaffirm the world-class quality of its research, and place it among the top 50 young universities in the world.
Founded in 1829, Chalmers University of Technology offers education in, among other things, engineering, technology, and the natural sciences. The university is incredibly diverse, with some 40 percent of its masters students drawn from outside Sweden. Chalmers works closely with Swedish businesses and a good number of its academic staff are experienced veterans from local companies. In order to ease their transition into the university community, Chalmers offers free Swedish language classes to tuition-paying international students so they may better communicate with native classmates.
While it was established in 2003 after a merger of three universities, the University of Antwerp may trace its history all the way back to 1852. Antwerp’s educational philosophy is centered around debate, reflection, and critical research. The university’s well-regarded Faculty of Science focuses on teaching and research in bioscience-engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics-informatics. The faculty offers three master programmes, an advanced master programme and a postgraduate programme taught in English. It features an incredibly diverse community of researchers, over 35 percent of whom are non-Belgian and are drawn from at least 60 different nations.
Image courtesy of the University of Eastern Finland
The University of Eastern Finland is one of the largest universities in Finland, hosting approximately 15,000 students and 2,800 staff members. The QS World University Rankings 2015 placed it among the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years of age. The university’s Faculty of Science and Forestry carries out intense research on issues such as climate change, bioeconomy, and photonics. The faculty is present on two campuses, in Joensuu and in Kuopio, and operates the Mekrijärvi Research Station in Ilomantsi and the infrastructural unit SIB Labs.
Maastricht University (UM) is often lauded as the youngest and most international university in the Netherlands. UM is known for its innovative Problem-Based Learning (PBL) education model, which focuses not just on subject matter, but also personal development of skills such as self-reliance, assertiveness, and problem-solving. The university’s well-regarded Faculty of Humanities and Sciences contains a variety of organizational units, each with a different focus – from bio-based materials to data science and from knowledge engineering to sustainable development.