The Best Cities for International Students

Studying abroad can be a fantastic experience, giving you the opportunity to live in a new city while you study. But with so many great places to live and study, it can be tricky to pick the best place.

In this blog, we look into the best cities for international students, using the QS Best Student Cities ranking. The list ranks cities based on the opinion of current students of the city, plus affordability, desirability, student mix, and employer activity, as well as looking at university performance rankings.

London, England

London tops the list of best cities for international students, with a score of 100. London has frequently come in first on the annual rankings due to a variety of reasons.

London is home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities, such as King’s College London and University College London. In the QS World University Rankings, 4 out of the top 45 universities were based in London.

Students in London were overwhelmingly positive about studying there, and the city also scored highly for having a high number of international students and an inclusive city.

The one area where London scored low was in affordability, scoring just 19.4 out of 100. London is well known for being an expensive city, with rent, groceries and entertainment all making an impact. However, with such high scores in all other areas, the cost can be worth it for many international students.

Munich, Germany

Munich comes in joint second place in the rankings of best cities for international students with a score of 95.1.

Munich scored highly from current students, who ranked it based on the city’s friendliness and sustainability. Munich has been committed to becoming a green city, focusing on sustainability and renewable energy.

Munich is popular with international students, thanks to its rich culture and high standard of living. Many choose to stay in the city after graduating, to benefit from the booming economy and many exciting career opportunities.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul comes in joint second in the best cities for international students with a score of 95.5.

Seoul scored particularly highly in the category of employer activity, with local businesses valuing recent graduates and there being a high youth employment rating. In addition to this, tuition fees are generally affordable and living in the city can be more affordable than many other locations.

Seoul is also loved by international students due to its culture, great food, and low levels of crime. The city makes for a great place to study, with the added benefit of many programmes being taught in English, which can make them more accessible to many international students.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is the fourth best city for international students, coming in close behind Seoul and Munich with a score of 95.

There are two Zurich universities in the top 100, including ETH Zurich which ranks seventh. Zurich scores highly across all categories, particularly in desirability – like most Swiss cities, Zurich is clean, safe, and organised. It has a great quality of life, with access to beautiful countryside and a healthy work/life balance.

Tuition is relatively low, although the cost of living in the city can be high. Zurich is a financial hub, bringing plenty of post-graduate job opportunities for international students.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne comes in fifth place among the best cities for international students with an overall score of 93.3.

Melbourne scores especially high in the student mix category. It is a multicultural city, making it very welcoming to international students. Over 170,000 international students from 170 countries come to the state of Victoria to study every year. The Government even has a specific service – Study Melbourne – aimed at supporting international students in the region.

Melbourne is known as the culture capital of Australia, with many art, music and theatre events and activities throughout the city. Sport is also popular in Melbourne, with a range of different sporting activities available. International students will find there’s plenty to see and do in Melbourne to keep them entertained when they’re not studying.  

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the sixth-best city for international students, with a score of 93.2.

Berlin scored especially high in the student view and desirability categories. Berlin is known for being a friendly, diverse city with a vibrant cultural scene, which can all make it a great place for students.

Berlin also scores relatively high on affordability. Public universities have no fees for domestic or international students, and funding options are available for paid-for universities. Plus, many programmes are taught in English with a wide range of courses available in both German and English.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is the seventh best city for international students with a score of 92.9.

Tokyo scores particularly high in the employer activity category, coming in the highest for this ranking overall. Tokyo is well-known as an international hub of business, and there are plenty of job opportunities in a range of industries on offer for graduates.

Tokyo is also a busy, vibrant city, with lots to see and do for students. Residents in the city have a high standard of living, with a well-organised city that’s safe and easy to navigate.

Studying abroad?

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