QS Best Student Cities ranking: 53rd
With three universities in the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16, Malaysia’s capital is quickly establishing itself as one of Southeast Asia’s leading study destinations. The rapidly improving reputation of Malaysia’s higher education sector, headed by Universiti Malaya (now ranked 146th in the world) reflects the wider coming to prominence of the country itself on the world stage.
Kuala Lumpur is very much a manifestation of this. This city of gleaming skyscrapers, including the iconic Petronas Twin Towers (the world’s tallest buildings until 2004), is as perfect a representation of the changing balance of power in the 21st century world as you could hope to find.
However, it is by no means a soulless imitation of a Western city. Alongside air-conditioned malls and familiar multinational corporations, you can still find mosques and temples, street vendors and markets, and the rich multicultural mix which has always characterized this part of the world.
It also gets the highest score in the index for affordability, combining low living costs with relatively low annual tuition fees.
QS ranked universities
More about Kuala Lumpur
Number of universities ranked by QS
Top ranked institution
Universiti Malaya (UM) (146th in the world)
Students (% of total population)
1.3% (based on ranked institutions)
10.0% (of students at ranked institutions)
Average tuition fees
Global Liveability Ranking
73rd (out of 140)
Mercer Cost of Living rank
113th (out of 214)
Cost of a Big Mac
Cost of an iPad
Numbeo safety rank
431st (out of 446)
Numbeo pollution rank
81st (out of 300)
Transparency International score
53rd (out of 177)
Sources: QS World University Rankings; Global Liveability Ranking (The Economist’s Intelligence Unit); Big Mac Index (The Economist’s Intelligence Unit); iPad Index (Commsec); Cost of Living Survey (Mercer); Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International).