Cities and Urbanization

London is the best city in the world for international students – where else makes the rankings?

London universities education international students

London tops the QS best list of student cities. Image: Unsplash/Anthony Delanoix

David Elliott
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  • The results from QS Quacquarelli Symonds ninth ranking of the world’s best student cities are in.
  • London tops the list for the third time in a row, thanks to its world-class universities and top opportunities for graduates.
  • Munich comes second, with Seoul and Tokyo in joint third.

Where are the world’s best cities for international students? That’s the question higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds has just asked for the ninth time – and the results are in.

QS compiles the list to help students compare more than 100 study destinations that have a population of at least 250,000 and two universities or more.

It looks at a range of factors including its own university rankings, safety, and affordability. And it collects the views of more than 95,000 prospective and former students to gauge desirability and consider actual student experiences.

London tops the list again for 2022, with survey responses from people who have studied there highlighting the UK capital’s outstanding cultural, economic and educational opportunities, according to QS.

Here is the full top 10.

Best cities for students 2022
London is at the top spot with 18 of world's top universities. Image: World Economic Forum

1. London, UK

London has 18 of the world’s top universities – as listed in the QS World University Rankings – a large international community and opportunities to go on to work at many household-name companies.

a view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
London is named as the best student city in the QS 2022 rankings. Image: David Mark/Pixabay

2. Munich, Germany

Munich beats Berlin – Germany’s other top 10 city – climbing from fourth in the previous list to second. It chalked up an increase in the desirability, employer activity and affordability rankings.

=3. Seoul, South Korea

Jumping seven places, South Korea’s capital is now considered to be the joint third best student city in the world. This is in no small part due to it being home to 21 of the world’s best universities.

=3. Tokyo, Japan

Currently captivating the world’s attention as host of the delayed 2020 Olympics, Tokyo maintains a place in the overall top three and ranks as the most desirable place to study. As the world’s most populous city and a leading financial centre, it offers students a unique experience and plentiful professional opportunities.

this is a night time view of Tokyo
2020 Olympics host city Tokyo is ranked the most desirable place to study. Image: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

5. Berlin, Germany

While the German capital might not boast the academic firepower of cities like London or Paris, it is home to three of the world’s top universities. The city scores highly in the Student View indicator with a high quality of living, affordable costs and a liberal atmosphere, according to QS.

6. Melbourne, Australia

It may have fallen three places since 2019, but Melbourne is viewed fondly by former students, who call it internationally diverse, vibrant and student friendly. The city also boasts the HQs of many international companies and geographic links to large economies such as Japan and Indonesia.


7. Zurich, Switzerland

It’s home to QS’s highest-ranked university in continental Europe – ETH Zurich – and its desirability score was only beaten by three other cities. One student surveyed by QS highlighted the city’s “perfect combination of city life and nature”.

8. Sydney, Australia

Australia is one of only two countries, alongside Germany, with more than one city in the top 10. The Aussie capital may have lost out to Melbourne here – and as its affordability rank of 101 shows, it’s certainly not cheap – but with an enviable climate and diverse and vibrant city life, it comes fourth for desirability.

=9. Paris, France

Paris is a consistent performer in QS’s ranking of the best student cities, largely due to a high concentration of internationally ranked universities. This time, it scores highly across categories – notably coming seventh in the world for “employer activity”.

a view of the Eiffel Tower
Paris has 10 institutions ranked in the 2022 QS World University Rankings. Image: Charles Platiau/Reuters

=9. Montreal, Canada

According to the rankings, Montreal boasts world-class education – it’s home to several of Canada’s top universities – and a friendly student environment.

=9. Boston, US

The only new entrant in the top 10, rising from 13th in the previous rankings to tie with Montreal and Paris. The Boston area is home to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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