Which Is the Best City in the World for Students?

Hot off the press today we have a brand-new survey to share with you, and you know how much we love a good survey here on Bobinoz. It’s not so much surveys though, I think it’s ‘best lists’. You can’t beat a good best list.

We’ve done Best Cities in Australia, Best Cities in the World, we’ve even done a Best Beers list, but we’ve never done a Best City for Students list before.

So today’s question is…

Which is the best city in the world for students?

Student Raising HandYes QS, you stuck your hand up quite quickly, what’s the answer?

As it turns out, QS had all the answers.

The QS Intelligence Unit has been looking at university rankings for some time now creating an index of the world’s top 50 cities for students.

They look at cities with populations of over 250,000 and at least two higher education institutions that are featured in their QS university rankings.

They then look at those university rankings as well as the student mix, desirability, employer activity and affordability of that city before compiling it all together to create an overall index.

The ink has barely dried on their report, and I’m going to look at the best student cities according to their research, not from the whole world as they have, but from three countries.

Top student cities in Australia, the UK and the USA

In reverse order, these are the positions the cities from the three countries mentioned achieved in the world top 50 list for 2015:

46 – Pittsburgh
45 – Coventry
42 – Washington DC
41 – Philadelphia
38 – Perth
32 – Dublin
31 – Los Angeles
29 – Manchester and
29 – Adelaide
26 – Edinburgh
23 – Brisbane
21 – Canberra
18 – Chicago
17 – New York
13 – San Francisco
6   – Boston
4   – Sydney
3   – London
2   – Melbourne

Drum roll please….. and the number one city in the world for students is…

Darwin? Nope.

Hobart? Uh uh.


1 – Paris

Oh well, the top city for students is neither in the UK, the USA or Australia, but with 19 out of the top 50, didn’t these three countries do well? 6 out of the 8 major cities in Australia as well. Not bad.



One of the things that struck me about this list is that students, if memory serves, like to eat and drink, and drink can often mean beer, on the cheap. Paris would not be your number one choice for a cheap night out on the booze.

Then I noticed the tabs at the top of the list where the full world top 50 is displayed on the QS website and you can reorder these cities according to your preference. So I clicked on the “Affordability” tab to see what that did to the positions.

affordabilityInstantly London plummeted from third position down to 50th, or in simpler terms, to the bottom of the list.

Next, Sydney in 46 then continuing in least affordable order, New York, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Los Angeles, Dublin, Adelaide, Coventry, Manchester, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston were all amongst the 20 least affordable cities in the whole list.

Our three countries had 16 out of the 20 least affordable cities in this world list.

I think that says it all, whether you’re a student looking for a city or not. Desirable cities with good facilities and high employer activity are always unlikely to be the cheapest places to live.

If you are a student looking for a city though, this report is a must read, it has pages and pages of fascinating information to help you make your final choice. You can even click on each individual city and find a wealth of information to help you.

Visit QS Best Student Cities 2015 to see all the information and twiddle around with the tabs.

If you are just looking for that cheap beer though, I think I can save you quite a bit of time. The answer is Mexico City.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Onalenna February 4, 2015, 4:06 pm |

    I am heading off to Melbourne for a post grad program. Very expensive city indeed. Tuition fees are as high as the international space station. I suppose that applies to prices of everything in Melbourne really. I hope it will be worth the investment.

  • Nickyhusky February 4, 2015, 6:23 am |

    Tell me there’s a Coventry in the US or Oz (presumably US) and it doesn’t mean the one in the UK! Coventry, Warwickshire, UK is awful! Not that there aren’t some nice bits, and most of Warwickshire is lovely, but Coventry city centre is a depressing concrete jungle, and the uni is right by the ring road! Ugh. Surely it means somewhere else, surely…

    My son will be off to uni next year, either to Durham (lovely) or Loughborough (a dump of a town, but fantastic uni), and if the latter, he might get onto the exchange program with either Perth or Brisbane. I’m hopeful…!

    • BobinOz February 4, 2015, 5:33 pm |

      I can’t talk for the US, but I can confirm that there is no Coventry in Australia. I repeat, there is no Coventry in Australia.

      And yes, Durham is nice 🙂

  • Eli February 4, 2015, 2:16 am |

    Thanks for this report Bob, I’ve been curious about this for a while.

    • BobinOz February 4, 2015, 5:25 pm |

      My pleasure, I hope it answered some questions for you. Bob

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