Best Student Cities in the World

By Natalie Jenkins 

Going to university is often a significant milestone in any student’s life. Living away from home, getting to experience new places and cultures, meeting new people and genuinely being able to enjoy what you choose to study is just a glimpse into what the university experience truly holds. So, as a student, living in an ideal city is key in order to have the best experience possible.
QS World University Rankings has compiled a list of the best cities in the world for university students based on certain criteria: Student Mix, (the student make-up of the city; student population, international volume, tolerance and inclusion,) Desirability, (safety, available opportunities and experiences, pollution levels,) Employer Activity, (the cities that employers favour the most, or where graduates are sought-after the most by recruiters,) Affordability, (how affordable a city is most likely to be; general living costs and tuition,) and, Student View, (a survey where students were asked to rate their ideal school based on the following eight categories: tolerance and inclusion, diversity, friendliness, ease of getting around, affordability, nightlife, employment opportunities, arts and culture.) 
Based on this data, here are the top 10 rankings for the best student cities in the world in 2017:

10. Vancouver, Canada


Vancouver is among one of the most beautiful cities to study in – natural parks, forests, mountains, (which also provide some of the world’s best ski resorts) are just a few examples of what lies in this city. Vancouver also is home to some of Canada’s best universities, one of which is the University of British Columbia, currently ranked 51st in the world. Simon Fraser University also provides a unique learning experience, as it is situated just outside the city in the middle of the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. Desirability also ranks well for this city, since it offers an urban array of bustling nightlife, music and theatres.  

9. Munich, Germany


Munich scores as the second highest for affordability, next to fellow German city Berlin. Although living in Berlin is slightly more expensive than it is in Berlin, free tuition for undergraduate students at public universities in Germany (regardless of nationality) provides a tempting incentive for students of any background and interest. This, in combination with its distinctive culture and vibrancy, makes it an ideal place to live as a student. 

8. Boston, United States


Known for some of the world’s best universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University (Ivy League,) ranked first and third respectively, it is a surprise that this city ranks so low in comparison to other cities. This is because the Affordability category remarkably lowers the US’s ranking down the list – let alone Boston itself. It seems to be worth every penny, however, since its reputation for academic might is reflected among graduate employers worldwide. Since Boston can also be considered as one of the most historic cities in the United States, politics, art, and cultural happenings are common. 

7. Tokyo, Japan 


Although living here is quite expensive as a university student, Tokyo offers a bustling and urban lifestyle, with a population of 13 million people. The city also values international students, which is reflected in the Employer Activity category, which earned the strongest score. While also keeping its status of being one of the world’s top epicentres of finance and business, (alongside London and New York) internships and work experiences for students in this field are also common. 

6. Berlin, Germany


Although not as academically profound as cities like Paris, Boston or London, Berlin’s popularity and attraction of international students is mainly because all undergraduate degrees, as well as some postgraduate degrees, are offered completely free at its public universities. Its high quality of living, affordability, and also being a major centre of design, fashion, music and art, it is no doubt that Berlin is desirable to students of all backgrounds and interests. 

5. Melbourne, Australia


While tuition fees have increased significantly, Melbourne claims fifth place most reasonably due to the fact that it is ranked number one in the world for livability/desirability, mainly for its appealing lifestyle and attractions; lots of beaches, a thriving night-life, and a sunny climate. This makes it highly desirable for international students, thus making it home to one of those most diverse student-body communities. The city is also well known for its outstanding universities, seven of which are featured in the QS World University Rankings of last year, with the University of Melbourne in 42nd place globally. 

4. Seoul, South Korea 


Seoul has a strong reputation of university students that are sought-after by both domestic and international employers, as it ranks very strongly in the Employer Activity category (second place.) Notably, 86% of graduates stay in the city after graduation, according to The Guardian. More so, 18 universities in Seoul have been ranked in QS’ World University Rankings for 2016 and 2017, where Seoul National University is the highest ranked. (35th globally.) While few cities can claim a better standard of academia than Seoul, this city also has a buzzing atmosphere where boredom is impossible, with rich culture and history, night-markets, traditional temples and spas, and a new experience each day with whatever you may choose to do.  

3. London, England


While home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world (University College London and Imperial College London, ranked 7th and 9th respectively in the world,) it is with no doubt that London is academically distinguished. London is also famed for its abounding culture, art and museums, nightlight and diversity, and international finance and business. So it is no doubt that this city attracts a large population of international students. 

2. Paris, France


Paris has consecutively held its ranking as the best student city globally mainly due to the fact that it is home to some of the most world-leading institutions than any other city (with exceptions to Seoul and London.) These schools have some of the most influential alumni in a variety of different fields, producing some of the most important scientists, politicians, mathematicians and business leaders, to name a few. Although the expenses of living in Paris as a student can be quite costly, it is balanced out by low tuition fees and other general costs of university.

1. Montréal, Canada


With its diversity, multilingualism, rich history and appeal to student life, it’s no surprise that Montréal has climbed six places to top last year’s rankings – knocking Paris out of this position of four successive years. Montréal is also home to some of Canada’s most prestigious universities – including McGill University and Université de Montréal. (Currently ranked 2nd and 5th in Canada, respectively.)

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