Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF

Subscribe for free

London takes top spot (again) in ranking of student cities

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • London has been ranked #1 of 110 cities in terms of its attractiveness to students and the experience it provides them
  • Germany and Australia each have two cities in the top 10
  • QS notes that many cities are performing more poorly than in previous years in terms of their “affordability” scores

QS’s “Best Student Cities” ranking for 2023 has been released, and it is informed by the perceptions of more than 98,000 current and former students. This year, 110 cities were evaluated – all of which had to have a population of at least 250,000 to qualify. Several factors contribute to the overall ranking of a city, such as affordability, desirability (perceptions of current students), the feedback of former students, the presence of employers, and the number of highly ranked universities.

According to QS, London, England, is the best city in the world for students, followed by Seoul and Munich (tied for 2nd), Zurich, Melbourne, Berlin, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney, Edinburgh.

The rankings’ methodology is designed to produce a holistic assessment of a city, taking into account the following:

  • QS World University rankings 2023
  • Student mix (diversity of student population, how welcoming it is to international students)
  • Desirability (safety, pollution levels, proportion of students who picked that city as their preferred destination)
  • Employment (youth employment rate, employers’ perceptions of graduates from the city’s universities)
  • Affordability (cost of living and tuition)
  • Student voice (opinions about a city’s friendliness, its approach to sustainability, internationalisation, and more)

London topped the charts for the third consecutive year by “receiving exceptional scores” for the diversity of its student mix, students’ feedback on their overall experience in London, the number of world-class universities in the city, and “employer activity.” It made it to #1 despite placing poorly on the affordability aspect of the rankings. Ben Sowter, QS Senior VP, said,

“Responses to our surveys from students that have studied in London make it clear that it offers outstanding cultural, economic, and educational opportunities. With two of the world’s ten best universities situated in the city, it remains a world-leading educational hub. Worryingly, cities are broadly becoming less affordable for students by QS’ measures, with just under 90% declining in our Affordability metric.”

The full top 20 are:

  1. London
  2. Seoul and Munich (tied for 2nd)
  3. Zurich
  4. Melbourne
  5. Berlin
  6. Tokyo
  7. Paris
  8. Sydney
  9. Edinburgh
  10. Boston
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Singapore
  13. Montreal
  14. Toronto
  15. Vienna
  16. Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe
  17. New York
  18. Lausanne
  19. Vancouver

Overall, seven of the top 20 are in Europe, two are in Australia, three are in Canada, two are in the US, and four are in Asia.

Asia did well on the overall list, with 25 cities making the ranking – seven of them for the first time.

For additional background, please see:


Sign up for our news alerts!

Did you enjoy this article? Then don’t miss the next one!

Subscribe for free