Top Seven Largest Universities in the World

The importance of education can simply not be overemphasized. It is a formidable tool for equipping nations, encouraging civilization, modifying cultures, and procuring societal development. 

Higher institutions of learning, such as universities, provide the resourceful environment to enable these to happen. With an enormous number of universities in existence, you may be wondering which ones stand out as the largest. 

There are various parameters for assessing a university and assigning it a rank. One of these is the size of enrollment, which quantifies the number of students enrolled in the institution. In this article, we will present the seven largest universities in the world, according to the size of enrollment. A countdown would be best befitting. 

7. Payame Noor University(PNU)

Located in Tehran, India, the institution was established in 1988 and its name means “message of light”. With an enrollment of over 1 million students, the university ranks as the seventh-largest university in the world.

As of 2020, the university had about 502 campus locations. It was formerly called the University of Abu Rayhan al-Biruni and the Iran Free University(these two institutions were integrated to form the Payame Noor University).

Payame Noor University is ranked by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) in 2019-2020 as the 27th in Iran, and the 1626th globally, making it a highly prestigious university. It offers undergraduate, postgraduate, and Ph.D. programs.

6. Allama Iqbal Open University.

This university has over 1.1 million students in enrollment. Located in Islamabad, Pakistan, and founded in 1974, the university is historically notable for being the first Open University in Africa and Asia. The student population consists of mostly women and the motto of the university is ” Education for All”. 

5. Islamic Azad University.

As a privately-owned comprehensive system of universities, Islamic Azad University has its headquarters in Tehran, Iran, and satellite campuses in Afghanistan, Lebanon, England, and the United Arab Emirates.

It was established in 1982 and currently has 33 universities (including 2 Independent universities and 31 State universities) and 750 Sama Schools under direct administration (i.e 355 branches, campuses, hospitals, and medical centers). It has over 1 million students in enrollment, making it the fifth largest university in the world. 

The university has, over the years, focused on actualizing its key objective: ‘higher education for all’ and has grown to be a reputable institution, all across the globe. It also has a range of facilities, both medical(e.g hospitals), recreational, information and communication technology(ICT), laboratories, sports, etc. 

The university has a well-seasoned academic staff and a dedicated non-academic staff. Its enrollment includes both local and international students. 

4. Anadolu University.

With an enrollment of approximately 2 million students, Andolu university is one of the best Turkish universities, and arguably the largest in Turkey. Founded in 1958 and located in Eski┼čehir, Turkey, the university was created as a combination of four existing institutions, namely: a medical school, the Academy of Economics and Commercial Sciences of Eski┼čehir, the State Academy of Architecture and Engineering, and the Institute of Education. Its Faculty of Communication Sciences has been rated as the best in Turkey and competes with others to be one of the best in Europe.

Its faculties include Distance Education Faculty, Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Fine Arts, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Business Administration, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Architecture and Design and Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

3. National University of Bangladesh.

The university has an enrollment population of about 2.1 million students. With the Headquarters sitting majestically in Gazipur, Bangladesh, and the six other regional centers being part of the system, the university strives to provide quality education to the people of Bangladesh. 

The institution is a publicly funded and state-run postgraduate teaching and research university, which doubles as an affiliate university. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate education through ten disciplines: law, languages, mathematical sciences, social science, education, commerce and business administration, humanities, physical sciences,  biological science, and computer technology.

2. California Community Colleges(CCC) System

Despite the plurality of the colleges, the institution is usually referred to as a single entity. With over 2.1 million students in enrollment, the California Community Colleges System is the largest university in the United States and the second-largest university in the world. It has 115 accredited colleges and an online college. 

The institution provides useful education including career technical education(CTE), which equips students for vocational career opportunities and, in turn, builds the human resources pool relevant in shaping a better economy. 

As a postsecondary educational system, the CCC, governed by an organized system of authorities, is a valuable tool for the economy of California. 

1. Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU)

Topping the chart is the Indira Gandhi National Open University, with a whooping enrollment of 4.9 million students.  The institution is a Central Open Learning University and is located at Maidan Garhi, New Delhi, India.

Named after the first, and to date, only female prime minister of India, this Indian university, founded in 1985, occupies the rank of the largest university in the world by enrollment and provides access to top-notch education to everyone, not leaving out the minority and the disadvantaged. 

The institution was established to serve the educational needs of the Indian people while ensuring limitless access to all and sundry. With the use of distance and open education, IGNOU effectively contributes to the development of human resources in India. 

Its academic activities are not limited to teaching and learning alone, but also include research, continuing education, training, and extension. The university also serves a crucial role as a  national resource center. 

With a total of 21 schools, 67 regional centers, 2667 study centers, and 29 centers overseas(in 15 countries), IGNOU boasts of 226 academic programs(courses at certificate, diploma, and degree levels) and accounting for about 20% of the higher institution student population in India. 


So, there you have it: the seven largest universities in the world, compiled based on the size of enrollment. 

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