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The second best student city in Spain after Barcelona (according to the QS Best Student Cities 2015), Madrid has much to offer as Spain's capital and most populous city, as well as one of Europe's major financial, administrative and cultural centers.  The city, a tourist magnet with legendary nightlife and gastronomic tradition, ranks joint 39th in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, alongside Helsinki.

Home to the famous “galacticos” of Real Madrid, this city also boasts some of the world's most important art galleries, such as the Prado, as well as a chic fashion scene. International students may also be interested to know that the city is famed for its outgoing and sociable lifestyle: lengthy siestas, leisurely evenings socializing at the city's innumerable tapas bars, and late, late nights out at the weekends.

Madrid scores well in all of the categories used to compile the QS Best Student Cities, getting its strongest score for “desirability” – a measure of the overall quality of living in the city, including factors such as safety and pollution. Madrid also gains a particularly good score for “affordability”, due largely to the low tuition fees at all four ranked universities in Madrid. Its highest ranked university is the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, placed 178th in the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15.

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QS ranked universities

More about Madrid

Number of universities ranked by QS


Top ranked institution

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (178th in the world)



Students (% of total population)

2.3% (based on ranked institutions)

International students

9.0% (of students at ranked institutions)

Average tuition fees


Global Liveability Ranking

44th  (out of 140)

Mercer Cost of Living rank

63rd  (out of 214)

Cost of a Big Mac


Cost of an iPad


Numbeo safety rank

127th  (out of 372)

Numbeo pollution rank

127th  (out of 299)

Transparency International score

40th  (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).

Written by Laura Bridgestock

The editor of, Laura oversees the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edits the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributes to market research reports including Students Online: Global Trends.

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