Top 10 Largest Universities in the World

If, as a prospective college student, you believe there is strength in numbers, then you might think about enrolling in an open university. These colleges, which rely heavily on computer-based distance learning, have garnered large enrollment numbers since their openings. But, the largest of these open universities are thriving in countries such as India, Pakistan and Turkey. That said, three U.S. college systems are on the list this year, one maintaining a foothold in the top ten from 2008 and another two joining for the first time.

To partake in education from the largest U.S. colleges, you have a choice among University System of Ohio, State University of New York and California State University. The University System of Ohio, established in 2007, is, perhaps, the fastest-growing educational system in the world. They have expanded rapidly in both campuses and enrollment numbers over the past two years as they continue to hold the line on tuition costs, despite nationwide state budget issues.

The following list of ten largest universities in the world according to enrollment numbers originally was derived from the Wikipedia entry, List of largest universities by enrollment. However, the numbers at this site were outdated or totally off the mark. Bangladesh Open University, for instance, enrolled over 700,000 students since its inception in 1992. This is not the current number of students enrolled, which has been declining. Current enrollment is 100, 576, a number that removes this university from the list.

Most enrollment numbers were gathered from university Web sites, but news resources also were used to gain insight into changes as enrollment finalized for fall 2009 classes. In some cases, updates to the Wikipedia numbers were not available, and those instances are noted within the list.

  1. Indira Ghandi Open UniversityIndira Gandhi National Open University: With headquarters in New Delhi, India, IGNOU was founded in 1985 as both an on-campus and distance learning college. The college serves students in thirty-five countries through twenty-one schools and a network of over 2300 study centers. IGNOU also acts as an accreditor for open university and distance learning programs throughout India. Enrollment: (January 2009) over two million students
  2. Allama Iqbal Open UniversityAllama Iqbal Open University: Touted as the first open university in Asia, AIOU maintains a main campus in Islamabad and a huge network of regional centers throughout the country. They serve students throughout Pakistan and the Middle East with programs that range from basic to doctoral levels. There are plans afoot to expand the distance education facilities with recruitment of over 900 more faculty members over the next year. Enrollment: A press release in July 2009 noted an enrollment at 1.9 million.
  3. Islamic Azad UniversityIslamic Azad University: Located in Tehran, Iran, the Islamic Azad University consists of a private chain of universities throughout that country. They offer master’s and doctorate programs, maintain the largest academic library in Iran (shown here) and operates a news agency. Enrollment: (according to translation of the university home page) 1.3 million students.
  4. Bangladesh National UniversityBangladesh National University: This university offers graduate and post-graduate level education to students in more than 1,600 colleges that are affiliated with National University. The university is run by the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and it is actively seeking expansion through courses, institutions and the number of attending students. Enrollment: About one million students, according to the university home page.
  5. Andalou UniversityAnadolu University: This Turkish university maintains three distance learning programs, seven schools, four vocational schools, nine institutes and twenty-eight research centers and units in two campuses. Andalou University has over 1,800 faculty members and prides itself on updated technology and a year-long intensive English program. Unfortunately, current enrollment numbers cannot be found, as it is known that this university expanded its campus since the count was made on enrollment numbers shown here. Enrollment: (2006) 884,081.
  6. Kent State Ashtabula CampusUniversity System of Ohio: This university system maintains fourteen public universities, twenty-four branch campuses, twenty-three community colleges and more than 200 adult workforce education centers and training programs throughout Ohio (Kent State Ashtabula campus shown here). They offer associate and bachelor’s degrees at facilities within thirty miles of any Ohio location. The goal behind even further expansion is to make higher education student-focused, yet a principal driver in Ohio’s economic growth. Enrollment: Noted as 478,376 in fall 2008 and over one-half million in 2009 at the college Web site.
  7. SUNY BuffaloState University of New York: Otherwise known as SUNY, this system of public colleges throughout New York is state-supported with the exception of City University of New York (CUNY). SUNY divides its campuses into four distinct categories including university centers or doctoral-granting institutions, university colleges, technology colleges and community colleges. University centers are located at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo (shown here), and more. Enrollment: In August 2009, SUNY noted a headcount of 439,523 students; however, an Albany CBS affiliate news station noted that 25,458 more students were enrolled in 2009, bringing the total enrollment number to 464,981, “the largest ever in SUNY history.”
  8. CSU Long Beach campus buildingCalifornia State University: Touted as one of the largest, most diverse and affordable university systems in the U.S., CSU maintains twenty-three campuses located throughout the state of California (a Long Beach campus shot shown here). CSU recently conducted a system impact study, which showed that their campuses provide an economic, social and cultural “powerhouse” that directly or indirectly affects every state resident. Despite this study, the state currently is facing extreme budget issues and has cut funds to the college. Enrollment: Now over 450,000, according to the CSU Web site. While a more precise number might push this university higher on the list, expect a drop in 2010 as CSU plans to cut 40,000 students based upon lack of state funds.
  9. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open UniversityDr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University: This is a public university located in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. The university originally was known as Andhra Pradesh Open University, but was renamed Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University in 1991. The university functions through a network of over 117 study centers throughout the state and is flexible in admissions, choice of courses, duration, age requirements and teaching and evaluation methods. Enrollment: Approximately 450,000 students.
  10. Ramkhamhaeng UniversityRamkhamhaeng University: This link goes to the local college program, located in Bangkok, Thailand. Ramkhamhaeng University also conducts an international program with outreach to English-speaking students. The university maintains two campuses and is one of two open universities in Thailand. The concentration is on developing programs to reach both urban and rural students in Thailand, and also to develop a worldwide exchange of information with other universities. Enrollment: Approximately 430,000 and an additional 1,500 from the International division for a total of about 431,500 students.