Is ‘Unistra’ the top French University?


‘Unistra’ is the new marketing name of the ancient University of Strasbourg, France.


Unistra was established in 1538 by Johannes Sturm in the cradle of Rhenish Humanism, Alsace, and in Strasbourg, the free Imperial city that had welcomed Gutenberg. It currently has about 48,000 students and is the second largest University in France.

Unistra has had many famous alumni, including Goethe (1749–1832) and Arsène Wenger

Unistra has a wealth of renown alumni including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), the father of the modern German language, and Arsène Wenger (b. 1949), the current coach of Arsenal in the Premier League.


Unistra was in the news back in October when Pr Jean-Pierre Sauvage was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry by the Swedish Academy, shared with Sir J. Fraser Stoddart from Northwestern University and Bernard L. Feringa from the University of Groningen.


Sauvage is the fourth living Nobel-awarded researcher you may bump into while strolling on the campus in Strasbourg, along with Pr Martin Karplus (Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013), Pr Jules Hoffmann (Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2011) and Pr Jean-Marie Lehn (Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987). Unistra actually has a long record of world-class researchers and can easily vye with the universities in Paris. It recently secured a €750M ‘IDEX’ funding for excellence from the French government to foster this.

Unistra has had 18 Nobel-Prize winners since the inception of the award in 1901

For instance, Unistra has had 18 Nobel-Prize winners among its alumni since 1901 and the inception of the award (See a full list at By comparison, Oxford has had 58, Cambridge 90 but Paris-Sorbonne Universités 19 and the École Normale Supérieure only 14. Strasbourg is one of the few French Universities that can boast having one of its Professors become a Nobel Prize for Peace, Albert Schweitzer in 1952.


So, as wrongly stated in the Nobel ranking given online (, with 18 Nobel Prizes, Unistra stands at world rank #35, between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Unistra has surpassed the London School of Economics (17, #36), Imperial College (17, #37) and King’s College London (12, #48). In 2015, the Shanghai ranking also put Unistra at the 87th place in the top 500 universities in the world (


So, Strasbourg is only one Nobel Prize away from indeed becoming the top French University… until next year?