QS Best Student Cities 2012: post-launch effects

The first global ranking of student cities, published last month by QS, caused a stir around the world, reaching more than 500,000 people on Twitter and attracting more than 1 million hits on the topuniversities.com website.

Paris edged out London as the top city, benefiting from a concentration of leading universities with low study costs. Four continental European cities appeared in the top ten, while both Melbourne and Sydney reached the top six for Australia.

QS Best Student Cities Ranking rated the top 50 cities on student mix, quality of living, employer activity and affordability. Public information, published surveys and data gathered in the production of the QS World University Rankings were combined to produce scores.

Cities had to have at least two world-ranked universities to be included. Edouard Husson, Vice-Chancellor of the Universities of Paris, said the city’s triumph in the first QS student cities ranking had been welcomed both by the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, and by President Sarkozy. He said the accolade reflected the huge amount of work taking place in French universities and especially in Paris, with its high density of leading institutions.

Nunzio Quacquarelli, the chief executive of QS, said the success of Paris also reflected the affordability of study at French universities. Both domestic and international students could attend leading institutions at low cost. The ranking was welcomed in student cities across the world.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, was delighted that second-placed London had been confirmed as one of the best places on earth to study. “We have more bookshops than New York, more museums than Paris (which, by the way, are free) and less rainfall than Rome,” he said. “What’s not to like about London?” Other city leaders were almost as pleased as Mr Johnson.

In Dublin, for example, Andrew Montague, the Lord Mayor, said that the city’s appearance in the top 10 worldwide was “hugely useful” in raising its profile among prospective students. Media organisations in 30 countries reported on the ranking.

Forbes Magazine said the results would be welcomed by those who “enjoy bashing education in America” since Boston was the only US city in the top 10. However, Chicago, San Francisco and New York all joined it in the top 20. Students and alumni competed for bragging rights on social networking sites, where discussion continues on the relative merits of different cities. More than a fortnight after the ranking appeared, Amanda Drolet was still extolling the virtues of Boston on Twitter, while others argued for Berlin, Montreal and Barcelona.

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