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Going from strength to strength in the QS Best Student Cities rankings, this year Shanghai moves up three places to rank as the 32nd best student city in the world (joint with Dublin). Shanghai, China’s largest city by population, is not only the world’s busiest container port; it is also a huge global center for finance, commerce, culture – and also education.

Six universities in Shanghai feature within the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15, led by Fudan University at 71st in the world and Shanghai Jiao Tong University at 104th.

Much like other thriving Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Seoul, Shanghai is often described in terms of contrasts – old and new, East and West, well-preserved traditions alongside rapid development – and there’s certainly more than enough to make each day different, however much time you spend here. The city lines the banks of the Yangtze River, where it meets the East China Sea, and has a striking, and growing, skyline of skyscrapers. The Shanghai Tower, completed late in 2013, is the tallest structure of any kind in China and the second tallest building in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

Back at street level, you’ll find buzzing marketplaces, ancient temples, cuisines from around the world, theaters and galleries all interweaved with a rich and interesting history. And what’s more, Shanghai is also well within the top 10 most affordable cities featured in the QS Best Student Cities, thanks to very attractive living costs and low tuition fees.

Read more about studying in China >

QS ranked universities

More about Shanghai

Number of universities ranked by QS


Top ranked institution

Fudan University (71st in the world)



Students (% of total population)

0.8% (based on ranked institutions)

International students

7.0% (of students at ranked institutions)

Average tuition fees


Global Liveability Ranking

81st  (out of 140)

Mercer Cost of Living rank

10th  (out of 214)

Cost of a Big Mac


Cost of an iPad


Numbeo safety rank

5th  (out of 372)

Numbeo pollution rank

33rd  (out of 299)

Transparency International score

80th  (out of 177)

Sources: QS World University RankingsGlobal 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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