Perhaps only Boston can rival London's credentials as a nerve-center of global academia, with the city's Imperial College London now ranked joint second in the world (alongside the University of Cambridge) and UCL (University College London) sharing fifth place with the University of Cambridge.
King’s College London is also within the global top 20, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is ranked second in the world for social sciences, and a whole host of other prestigious specialist and comprehensive institutes are scattered throughout the metropolis – along with world-leading facilities such as The British Library, which constitutes one of the most extensive and significant collections of books and manuscripts in the world.
Yet the UK's capital also offers far more to students. As well as being an academic hub, it’s one of the world's great centers of culture and creativity, famed for its museums, arts scene, nightlife and diversity.
London is also one of the world's most important financial centers, making it an attractive choice for those with an eye on corporate careers, as well as being among the world’s leading places to find work in media and the arts, and a host of other industries.
For many students, both domestic and international, the main sticking point is affordability. For international students, tuition fees at London's top universities approach those charged in the US, while home and EU undergraduate students are feeling the impact of major fee increases implemented in 2012. Meanwhile rent and living costs are significantly higher in London compared to the rest of the UK.
Yet thanks to the concentration of world-class universities and facilities, the professional and social opportunities, and a mind-boggling cultural confluence that mixes the corporate and the alternative, the historical and the cutting-edge, studying in London may well be worth every penny.
QS ranked universities
More about London
Number of universities ranked by QS
Top ranked institution
Imperial College London (2nd in the world)
Students (% of total population)
1.7% (based on ranked institutions)
41.0% (of students at ranked institutions)
Average tuition fees
Global Liveability Ranking
55th (out of 140)
Mercer Cost of Living rank
12th (out of 214)
Cost of a Big Mac
Cost of an iPad
Numbeo safety rank
203rd (out of 372)
Numbeo pollution rank
164th (out of 299)
Transparency International score
14th (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).