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QS Best Student Cities ranking: 14

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A dizzying metropolis with a population exceeding that of London, Paris or New York, Seoul is one of the 21st century’s undisputed urban powerhouses – and it’s also emerging as one of Asia’s major centers of higher education excellence. Seoul National University is Korea’s top-ranked university, at 35= in the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings®, and a further four of the city’s universities are ranked within the world’s top 250.

This gives Seoul’s one of the world’s most impressive collections of universities, meaning it scores well in the university rankings section of the Best Student Cities index, as well as getting a strong score for the reputation of its universities among employers, both domestically and throughout Asia.

While rapidly evolving, Seoul at the same time remains an ancient historic capital, in which gleaming skyscrapers and bustling shopping malls jostle for space with four UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the world’s oldest Confucian shrine. The city is renowned for its nightlife, much of which is driven by its substantial student population. The Hongdae district around Hongik University is South Korea’s party central, with literally hundreds of bars, restaurants, boutiques and nightclubs.

Due in part to its intense population density, Seoul scores lower than many other major capitals for quality of living, though its fast pace will appeal to some. Like Hong Kong, it presents a complex picture when it comes to affordability – costs such as rent are high, but in terms of retail and consumer costs Seoul is actually very cheap.

Read a student's guide to Seoul >

QS ranked universities*:

Seoul National University (SNU); Yonsei University; Korea University; Sungkyunkwan University; Hanyang University; Kyung Hee University; Ewha Womans University; Sogang University; Hankuk University of Foreign Studies ; Chung-Ang University ; The Catholic University of Korea ; Inha University; University of Seoul ; Dongguk University

More about Seoul

Number of universities ranked by QS*


Top ranked institution

SNU (35= in the world)



Average university fees


Mercer Cost of Living rank


Cost of a Big Mac**


Cost of an IPad***


*Universities assessed within the QS World University Rankings®.

**Based on the Big Mac Index, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

*** Based on the iPad Index, published by Commsec.

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