Depending on who you ask, the years you spend studying at university are either 100 years in hell (current students), the glory days (full-time workers) or a memory from days of yore (the elderly). But mixed in there with decisions about which 2 Minute Noodles flavour to have for dinner and whether or not you should pull an all-nighter to cram for your exam is the choice about which higher education institution you should attend in the first place – and where.
Higher education data collators QS believe they have the answer with the latest edition of their ‘Best Student Cities’ Study. The index assesses five important categories for what makes a city a great place to study: student mix, university rankings affordability, desirability and employer activity for after your complete your degree.
With a wealth of cities boasting excellent universities that compete on a world stage, this was a pretty tight race. So who took out the top prize? Paris, of course. The city of light boasts a whopping 18 internationally-ranking universities, a steady and growing job market, as well as affordable tuition (an average of $3175AUD in total), which is surprising when you consider the city is also one of the most expensive to live in.
So how did Australia fare? Pretty well, in fact. Check out the top ten below, and the rest of the list here.
Overall score: 404
Oh Par-eee. This is actually the fourth year the French city has topped QS’s list, boasting a rich quality of life and remarkably low tuition fees. It turns out Paris is where you need to be to become an internationally recognised heavy-hitter in your chosen field – the city has produced some of the world’s most important scientists, politicians, mathematicians and philosophers over the past century, along with some pretty historic movements in art, literature and film.
Overall score: 398
Number two – not half bad, guys. No stranger to accolades, Melbourne ranked high thanks to its strong selection of universities, each rating well on the ‘student mix’, ’employer activity’ and ‘desirability’ categories. This cultural hub actually holds the top spot for ‘student mix’, which is calculated by looking at the relative size and diversity of each city while also taking into account social inclusion and tolerance. University Of Melbourne is even ranked at #42 worldwide on QS’s World University Rankings for 2016 – second only to Australian National University in Canberra which came in at #19.
Overall score: 391
For fans of big cities, they don’t come much bigger that Tokyo – Asia’s leading entry in the list, Tokyo ranked high for safety, quality of living, tolerance, transparency and pollution. Far better than living in a so-called “student bubble”, studying in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo is a fully immersive experience, and one that will offer a myriad of opportunities, no matter the field.
Overall score: 388
Winner winner chicken dinner! Two cities in the top ten (and three more in the top 30!) proves Australia is doing quite well when it comes to a student-friendly country. Sydney boasts a great lifestyle and five world-ranking universities – the only spot where it falters is affordability, where an average tuition fee can reach about $37,000AUD.
Overall score: 384
London is the current leader when it comes to density of high-ranking universities (they have 19 overall), and also lays claim to a high quality of life and a great student mix. Unfortunately, surging rent prices have seen the English city drop ranks over the past few years, slipping from second position in 2013 to fifth this year.
Overall score: 380
Gaining nine places in this year’s ranking, this small but densely populated city has seen a huge boom in its higher education sector – Singapore has both the 12th an 13th best universities in the world, according to QS’s World University Rankings for 2016.
Overall rating: 377
This Canadian city bodes well for international students – especially French speaking expats who regularly take advantage of this Euro-hybrid city. Montreal also ranked well for quality of life, with QS rating the city’s comedy and music scenes as big draw-cards.
#8 Hong Kong
Overall rating: 373
Possibly the best thing about Hong Kong is it’s late-night culture – perfect for students and their crazy cram sessions. Hong Kong also ranks well when it comes to it’s graduate job market so you’ll have faith in the fact that all those late nights won’t be for nothing.
Overall rating: 369
Did you know Berlin universities have zero tuition fees? Neither did we! Berlin is currently the most affordable city in the top 10, thanks in much part to the city’s low living costs and the free uni. Oh and we should also mention it’s slowly becoming the coolest city in all of Europe.
Overall rating: 367
A relatively new and coveted study destination, Seoul currently has 14 high-ranking universities, a great nightlife and heaps of places to achieve your inner Zen – think spas, saunas and temples that’ll be great for when you need a much needed break from your studies.