Rankings released! QS Best Student Cities 2024

Four students on a university campus

QS Best Student Cities 2024, our annual rankings have returned – bringing forth the world’s top cities for studying abroad. 

The 11th edition features a total of 160 cities, up from 140 ranked last year – The factors that are considered when determining the QS Best Student Cities ranking, and which are given an equal weightage of 16.67%, include:   

  • World University Ranking (WUR) – 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. 

A detailed explanation of the methodology is available now. 

The top 10 Best Student Cities 

  1. London  
  2. Tokyo 
  3. Seoul 
  4. Melbourne 
  5. Munich 
  6. Paris   
  7. Sydney 
  8. Berlin 
  9. Zurich 
  10. Boston 

An overview of city performance 

While London remains in the top spot for another year, accumulating the second highest score in Student Voice (98.4) and WUR (94.9) respectively, Seoul is the only city to earn a perfect score of 100 in the ‘WUR’ indicator.  

Berlin is the next city to achieve another exceptional score of 100, particularly in ‘Student Voice’ alone. 

Melbourne, the highest ranked city in Australia, earned the second greatest score with 98.4 in ‘Student Voice’ and the third highest in ‘Student Mix’ with 98.6 points. This comes as no surprise since it ranked as the most affordable city among the top 10, according to Mercer’s Cost of Living City Ranking 2023.  

Tokyo gained the world’s third highest score in QS World University Rankings indicator (90.1) and fourth in the world for ‘Employer Activity’ (95.9), climbing from seventh to second place in QS Best Student Cities rankings.  

This year, Tokyo is the highest improver of the three ranked Japanese cities (including Osaka and Nagoya) – this was largely attributed to improved feedback from current and former students about their experience as a study location, ascending 10 places in the ‘Student Voice’ index.    

Highest improvers  

It is noteworthy that Miami (ranked 99th) and Rome (ranked 56th) have seen the greatest improvement – with Miami advancing by 21 places and Rome with 18 places, largely due to the progression in the Employer Activity indicator.  

Madrid and Auckland perform exceptionally, jumping from positions 44 and 27 respectively last year, to 37 and 29 in the current QS Best Student Cities 2024 rankings. 

Another victory for the world’s best student city  

QS continuously acknowledges our role in shaping higher education globally and influencing the decision-making of students across the world. 

Here’s what we found out in our International Student Survey 2022, receiving over 110,00 responses from prospective students in 194 countries: 

  • More than 17,000 participants were interested in studying at London universities. 
  • The priority choice (79%) among prospective students when asked about their five most important factors in choosing a country or city to study in was a ‘safe and welcoming space for international students‘ – followed by ‘high quality teaching’ (63%), ‘a good reputation for studying’ (57%), ‘a good lifestyle and leisure opportunity’ (57%) and ‘cost of living’ (55%) in order of importance. 
  • Over 40% of respondents ‘extremely agree’ that the UK is safe for international students. 

Jessica Turner, CEO at QS said “Our rankings showcase excellence throughout the UK. Cities across the country, including the newly recognised Belfast, offer outstanding academic institutions, state-of-the-art research facilities, thriving arts scenes, and unforgettable cultural experiences. These attributes encourage students to embrace new perspectives and unlock their creative potential.”  

“Beyond academia, the UK’s dynamic job market can provide a launchpad for graduates to pursue diverse and fulfilling careers in exciting sectors.” 

London Higher, (the representative body for 40 universities and colleges across London), recognises the city’s commitment to providing a unique educational experience, vibrant student life and outstanding career growth opportunities for another year in a row. 

Dr Diana Beech, Chief Executive Officer of London Higher, said, “We are immensely proud and honoured to be recognised as the ‘Best Student City 2024’ by QS. This prestigious title is a testament to London’s unwavering dedication to providing an exceptional experience for students wherever they come from in the world. London’s universities strive to nurture the brightest minds, create a diverse and inclusive environment, and equip students with the skills and opportunities they need to shape the world. “ 

“This recognition is a celebration of the collaborative efforts of the capital’s world-class universities, innovative businesses, and its incredible local communities – and everyone in the UK should be proud that London continues to the flag for the quality and appeal of a British higher education ahead of all other major global cities.”

Find out more about the performance of the leading cities to study globally from this year’s full QS Best Student Cities results.

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