Why rank student cities?

University rankings have been stirring up debate for a good few years, but everyone knows that going to university is about more than just choosing the most famous or prestigious institution. While we all naturally base much of our decision-making on identifying the best university and degree program, the city in which you choose to spend three or four years living and studying will shape your university experience. This ranking offers a new comparison of what some of the world’s leading student cities have to offer.

City rankings based exclusively on cost or quality of living are already in existence, but QS Best Student Cities 2012 is unique in employing a range of criteria tailored to the needs and priorities of students. Based on 12 indicators, the ranking looks at the quality and number of internationally recognized universities, alongside factors such as affordability, student population, job prospects and quality of living, to compare the all-round study environments provided by the world’s top student destinations.

Which cities qualify?

We have only included cities that have a population of over 250,000, and that contain two or more universities in the QS World University Rankings top 700. At present, 98 cities meet these criteria, of which we have ranked the top 50. This excludes the likes of Oxford and Cambridge, and there are of course many people who prefer to study in smaller towns and cities. However, our aim is to compare the major cities that offer most as all-round study destinations, not just those that contain a world-famous university.

How do you measure the ‘best student city’?

What makes a city preferable over another for a given person is of course subjective (within reason). However, while the amount of emphasis you attach to each of them will vary depending on your circumstances, interests and priorities, we believe our criteria are all of great importance to the vast majority of prospective students: Rankings, Student Mix, Quality of Living, Employer Activity, and Affordability.

As in all QS rankings, you are encouraged to look at the full range of tables to seek out the information that is most useful to you. Take a look at the overall table to see how the cities compare once all factors are added up, or check out the individual tables to see how they measure up in each of our five categories. Which one matters most to you?

Click here to view the results tables, or check out our methodology to see how we put the ranking together.

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