The following list of the world’s largest colleges by enrollment includes total active enrollment on all campuses as well as off-campus study. The enrollment figures provided are the total number of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled. The universities listed below award bachelor’s degrees or higher and either share a centralized governance structure and a single chancellor or president, or award degrees under the same institution name.

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Indira Gandhi National Open UniversityNew Delhi, IndiaAsia19857140000
California Community Colleges SystemCalifornia, United StatesNorth America19672133846
National University, BangladeshGazipur, BangladeshAsia19922097182
Anadolu UniversityEskişehir, TurkeyAsia19581974343
Allama Iqbal Open UniversityIslamabad, PakistanAsia19741027000
Islamic Azad UniversityIranAsia19821000000
Laureate Education, Inc.InternationalGlobal1999875000
Bangladesh Open UniversityGazipur, BangladeshAsia1992650000
Universitas TerbukaJakarta, IndonesiaAsia1984646467
National Technological Institute of MexicoMexicoNorth America1948 and 2014620000
State University of New York systemNew York, United StatesNorth America1948606232
Tribhuvan UniversityKirtipur, NepalAsia1959604437
Savitribai Phule Pune UniversityPune, Maharashtra, IndiaAsia1948665000
Chaudhary Charan Singh UniversityMeerut, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaAsia1965560000
University of MumbaiMumbai, Maharashtra, IndiaAsia1857549432
Ramkhamhaeng UniversityBangkok, ThailandAsia1971525000
National Open University of NigeriaNigeriaAfrica2002515000
California State University systemCalifornia, United StatesNorth America1857479000
University System of OhioOhio, United StatesNorth America2007478000
University of the PunjabLahore, Punjab, PakistanAsia1882450000
Dr. B R Ambedkar Open UniversityTelangana, IndiaAsia1982450000
University of South AfricaPretoria, Gauteng, South AfricaAfrica1873420000
University of DelhiDelhi, IndiaAsia1922400000
Payame Noor UniversityIranAsia1987400000
Sikkim Manipal UniversitySikkim, IndiaAsia1995390000
Minnesota State Colleges and UniversitiesMinnesota, United StatesNorth America1995375000
National Autonomous University of MexicoMexico City, MexicoNorth America1551356530
University System of GeorgiaGeorgia, United StatesNorth America1931318027
University of Buenos AiresBuenos Aires, ArgentinaSouth America1821316050
State University System of FloridaFlorida, United StatesNorth America1954358522
Osmania UniversityHyderabad, Telangana, IndiaAsia1918300000
City University of New YorkNew York, United StatesNorth America1961274357
National University of Distance EducationSpainEurope1972260079
Rajiv Gandhi Technical UniversityBhopal, Madhya Pradesh, IndiaAsia1998260000
Cairo UniversityGiza, EgyptAfrica1908257200
University of California systemCalifornia, United StatesNorth America1869238700
University of Texas SystemTexas, United StatesNorth America1881221337
Estácio de Sá UniversityRio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilSouth America1970215000
University of GuadalajaraGuadalajara, Jalisco, MexicoNorth America1791209406
University of Nuevo LeónMonterrey, Nuevo León, MexicoNorth America1933206000
Open UniversityMilton Keynes, United KingdomEurope1969205420
University of Applied Science and TechnologyIranAsia1992200000
Technical College System of GeorgiaGeorgia, United StatesNorth America1970191567
Utah System of Higher EducationUtah, United StatesNorth America1894189351
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public AdministrationMoscow, Russian FederationEurope1977180000
King Abdulaziz UniversityJeddah, Saudi ArabiaAsia1976177234
Technical and Vocational UniversityIranAsia1965175000
University of KarachiKarachi, Sindh, PakistanAsia1951174000
National Polytechnic InstituteMexico City, MexicoNorth America1936171581
Autonomous University of Santo DomingoSanto DomingoNorth America1538170530
Ain Shams UniversityCairo, EgyptAfrica1950170000
University of LondonLondon, United KingdomEurope1836170000
Southern New Hampshire UniversityNew Hampshire, United StatesNorth America1932170000
University of North Carolina systemNorth Carolina, United StatesNorth America1789169792
Illinois Board of Higher EducationIllinois, United StatesNorth America1862163786
University of Wisconsin SystemWisconsin, United StatesNorth America1848162933
Universiti Teknologi MARAShah Alam, MalaysiaAsia1956160957
Korea National Open UniversitySouth KoreaAsia1972151413
Uttar Pradesh Technical UniversityLucknow, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaAsia2000150000
Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open UniversityBhopal, Madhya Pradesh, IndiaAsia1991150000
Sapienza University of RomeRome, ItalyEurope1303147000
University System of MarylandMaryland, United StatesNorth America1988144363
University of the RepublicMontevideo, UruguaySouth America1849144108
Norte do Paraná UniversityLondrina, Paraná, BrazilSouth America1972130000
University of the PeopleCalifornia, United StatesNorth America2009126000
University of San Carlos of GuatemalaGuatemala City, GuatemalaNorth America1676124000
National Centre for Distance EducationFranceEurope1939120000
UNIMINUTO systemColombiaSouth America1990116782
Texas A&M University SystemTexas, United StatesNorth America1876114691
National University of CórdobaCórdoba, ArgentinaSouth America1613113558
Pennsylvania State System of Higher EducationPennsylvania, United StatesNorth America1982110428
Liberty UniversityVirginia, United StatesNorth America1971110000
Université du QuébecQuebec, CanadaNorth America1968101915
Virtual University of PakistanLahore, Islamabad, PakistanAsia2002100000
IU International University of Applied SciencesErfurt, GermanyEurope1998100000
Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh CityHo Chi Minh City, VietnamAsia199598648
University of BelgradeBelgrade, SerbiaEurope180897696
University of ViennaVienna, AustriaEurope136591715
Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher EducationMonterrey, Nuevo León, MexicoNorth America194391200
University of TorontoToronto, CanadaNorth America182788766
Complutense University of MadridMadrid, SpainEurope129383000
Farhangian UniversityIranAsia201280000
University of HagenHagen, GermanyEurope197476096
Academic Center for Education, Culture and ResearchIranAsia198060000

The universities listed as the largest in the world by enrollment have grown to their immense sizes for several reasons, reflecting broader trends in higher education and societal needs. Here are some of the key factors contributing to their massive enrollments:

Accessibility and Affordability

  • Open and Distance Learning Institutions: Universities like IGNOU and Anadolu University offer distance and open learning programs, making higher education accessible to those who cannot attend traditional campus-based programs due to geographical, financial, or personal constraints. Their affordability and flexibility attract a vast number of students.
  • Online Education: Institutions like the University of the People provide tuition-free, accredited online degree programs, breaking down financial and geographical barriers to education.

Demand for Higher Education

  • The global increase in demand for higher education, driven by a growing recognition of its importance for career advancement and economic development, has led to an expansion in university enrollments.
  • Population growth and increasing high school graduation rates in many countries have also contributed to a higher demand for university education.

Government and Policy Support

  • In many countries, government policies aimed at increasing access to higher education have led to the establishment and expansion of open universities and distance learning programs.
  • Funding and support for community college systems, like those in the United States, have made it possible for more students to begin their higher education journey.

Technological Advancements

  • Advances in technology have made online and distance learning more viable and effective, allowing universities to reach a global student body.
  • The development of digital platforms and resources has enabled institutions to scale up their offerings and enroll more students than traditional campus-based models would allow.

Societal and Economic Factors

  • In many regions, there is a high value placed on education as a means of social mobility and economic security, leading to a large number of individuals seeking higher education degrees.
  • The evolving needs of the labor market, emphasizing specialized skills and lifelong learning, have increased the demand for diverse and flexible educational programs.

Strategic Expansion and Diversification

  • Some universities have strategically expanded their program offerings and modes of delivery to include online courses, evening and weekend classes, and satellite campuses, attracting a broader range of students.
  • The diversification into various academic and vocational fields meets the varied interests and career goals of a wide student population.
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