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7 Best Student Cities You’ve Never Heard Of

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This year the QS Best Student Cities index has been expanded from 50 to 75 cities, highlighting even more of the world’s best places to be a student. Aside from the usual top student cities, (the likes of ParisLondon and Melbourne), there are quite a few entries which are less widely known study destinations, but which you should definitely consider. Check out these seven great student cities – which you might not have heard of…

1. Gothenburg


Kicking off our list is Sweden’s second-largest city, a new entry which ranks as the 54th best student city this year. Gothenburg is a very student-friendly city, with a large student community. It’s also especially likely to appeal to those who want something different to the quiet, historical, leafy cities in which you’ll find many of Sweden’s universities. There’s plenty of culture to explore, and the city hosts some of the largest annual events in Scandinavia, including the annual Gothenburg Film Festival and the Gothenburg Book Fair. Unfortunately, as with many Nordic cities, student life is not cheap – but it is slightly likely to be more affordable than many other Swedish cities. Universities in Gothenburg include two institutions ranked in the top 250 of the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16: the Chalmers University of Technology (132nd) and the University of Gothenburg (joint 247th).

2. Hsinchu


Another underrated but strong contender at joint 55th in this year’s QS Best Student Cities index, Hsinchu could be perfect if you want to study in Taiwan but don’t feel up to the hustle and bustle of capital Taipei. Like Chicago, Hsinchu’s windy climate has given it the nickname ‘the windy city’. It’s known for innovation and prosperity, with the nearby Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park dubbed the ‘Silicon Valley of the Orient’. This innovative spirit is reflected in the city’s universities, with National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University both in the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16, while they share 31st place in the latest QS University Rankings: Asia. Hsinchu is also a very affordable place to study, with low tuition fees and living costs.

3. Daejeon


Next in our list of the best student cities you’ve never heard of is Daejeon, another very technological and innovative city, located in South Korea. From relatively humble origins, it’s grown to become a major science and research center, again known for its focus on innovation. Daejeon is home to several of the leading universities in South Korea, including the internationally famed KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

You’re never far from inspiration or technology in Daejeon; as well as more research labs than you can shake a test tube at, the city is home to Expo Park (a science and technology theme park), and is near to the National Science Museum and Daedeok Science Town, which is known as the ‘brain’ of South Korea. In the QS Best Student Cities index, Daejeon receives its highest score in the ‘affordability’ category, with reasonably low tuition fees and lower costs of living than Seoul.

4. Sharjah


Everyone knows the huge metropolis that is Dubai, but also located in the United Arab Emirates is an attractive alternative which has been awarded the title of ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO. Sharjah is a bit more reserved than Dubai (for instance, alcohol is almost entirely prohibited), but ideal if you want to study in a smaller city which still offers plenty to do. Sharjah’s University City – an area with a high concentration of universities – is home to the highest-ranked university in the UAE, the American University of Sharjah (ranked 411-420 in the world). Sharjah receives a very high score in the ‘student mix’ category of the QS Best Student Cities index, with a whopping 50% of students at its internationally ranked universities coming from outside of the country – the highest percentage of international enrolments in the entire QS Best Student Cities index.

5. Gold Coast

Gold Coast

Next in our list of the best student cities you’ve never heard of is an aptly named Australian city with stunning golden beaches, ranked 69th in the QS Best Student Cities 2016 index. It may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of studying in Australia, but this popular tourist destination is likely to be right up your alley if you love sea, sand and surfing. In fact, one of its suburbs is even called ‘Surfer’s Paradise’. But aside from sunning yourselves, there’s more to explore. The Gold Coast hinterland – known as ‘the green behind the gold’ – offers a fascinating selection of waterfalls, rainforests, mountains and national parks. Gold Coast’s highest-ranking university is Griffith University, ranked joint 329th in the world, and the city has a great student mix, with 21% of students at its internationally ranked institutions being international.

6. Brno


Heading back to Europe, Brno (pronounced Bir-no) is the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, and is ranked 73rd in the Best Student Cities index. Relatively undiscovered by tourists, Brno is likely to charm those who do visit, with its medieval fortresses and castles, full of mysteries and providing material for numerous local legends. Although now very much a modern city, it has also preserved many of its traditions and has a vibrant cultural life.

Brno is also an important center of higher education, home to some of the highest-ranked Czech universities, including Masaryk University. The city receives its highest score in the ‘student mix’ category of the Best Student Cities index, with a large student community and a high percentage of international students. It also receives a high score for affordability, with reasonably low tuition fees and living costs.

7. Monterrey


Last but by no means least, Monterrey – ‘the City of the Mountains’, is located in north-east Mexico in an attractive location close to the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range.  The commercial, industrial, educational and transportation hub of the northern part of Mexico, Monterrey is also often considered the most ‘Americanized’ and developed city in the country, combining a modern outlook with plenty of history and traditional culture to explore. Monterrey receives its highest score in the ‘employer activity’ category of the Best Student Cities index, reflecting the strong reputation of its graduates and universities. The city also achieves a high score in the ‘affordability’ category, offering a high standard of living at relatively low cost, and tuition fees far lower than in the neighboring US.

Two of Monterrey’s universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16. The leader among these, Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), also appears in the top 10 of the QS University Rankings: Latin America 2015.

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Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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