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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
26th Jul 2023

London tops global student cities ranking for fifth consecutive year

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • The latest global ranking is based on input from 110,000 prospective international students
  • London again appears at the top of a table of 160 destination cities, with strong representation from Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US in the top tier

The 11th edition of the QS Best Student Cities ranking has just been released and it again puts London at the top of the table of 160 destination cities around the world. To be ranked, a city must have a minimum population of 250,000 and be home to at least two universities in the QS World University Ranking.

The city rankings are based on survey responses from more than 110,000 prospective international students in 194 countries. As QS explains, there are six ranking factors, each of which is given an equal weight of 16.67% in the overall scoring:

"QS World University Rankings – A category aimed to reflect the collective performance of a city’s universities in the QS World University Rankings.

Student Mix – Which assesses the student make-up of a city such as on-campus diversity, both overall and from an international perspective.

Desirability – With a broad spectrum of datasets, this is used to indicate how desirable a destination is as a whole, ranging from safety to pollution.

Employer Activity – In this indicator, two factors are considered that are derived from the QS Graduate Employability Rankings, examining which cities are the most highly sought-after employment grounds for graduates.

Affordability – From tuition fees to the cost of living, the affordability indicator measures how cost-effective a city is most likely to be for prospective students and their families.

Student Voice – Using findings from our yearly QS International Student Survey, we incorporate the views that students have on their experience studying abroad."

Tokyo was the big gainer, moving up from the 7th spot last year to become the 2nd-ranked city in the 2024 table. While London captures the top spot for the fifth year running, Asia and Europe are well represented and Canada and the US each have three cities in the 20 as well.

The complete list of the top 20 ranked cities is as follows;

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

For additional background, please see:

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