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10 Best Places to Study Abroad in 2019

By Sabrina Collier

Updated April 14, 2021 Updated April 14, 2021

Now featuring 120 cities around the world, the recently published QS Best Student Cities 2019 is a great way to research which city is best for you based on the factors you care about in a study destination. The ranking is compiled based on six indicators, including affordability, desirability and student view, the latter of which takes into account opinions from students themselves.

But which cities came out top overall in the Best Student Cities? Read on as we count down the 10 (technically 11, as two are joint) best places to study abroad, and find out why they’ve earned their high positions. 

=10. Hong Kong (SAR)

Hong Kong (SAR), up two places this year to rank joint 10th in the QS Best Student Cities index, is one of the largest financial centers in the world and makes for an exciting and dynamic study destination. It gets its best score in the rankings and employer activity indicators, with seven internationally ranked universities to choose from, led by the University of Hong Kong, which was ranked joint 25th in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

=10. Seoul


The high-tech South Korean capital Seoul shares 10th place with Hong Kong in the QS Best Student Cities index in 2019, and also achieves its best scores in the rankings and employer activity indicators thanks to the high prestige of universities such as Seoul National University, which was ranked 37th in the latest world rankings. Seoul also rose by 14 places in the student mix indicator, now appearing in the top 50 for this, showing that its student population is increasing and becoming more diverse – 12 percent of students at its ranked universities international.

9. Sydney


Sydney also hung on to ninth place among the best student cities in the world this year, unsurprisingly claiming its best score in the desirability category (ranked second in the world) due its high quality of life. Of course, this amazing carefree lifestyle comes with a hefty price tag, but students certainly find it worth the money, rating it 22nd in the student view indicator. When asked in our student survey what the best thing about Sydney was, one respondent said: “You get the intense buzz of the city life and the calm of the beach”.

8. Zurich

Switzerland’s largest city and main financial center, Zurich remains the eighth best place to study abroad in 2019, with its highest score in the desirability indicator at fourth in the world. The city boasts the highest-ranked university in continental Europe, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) at sixth in the latest world rankings. Safe, clean and well maintained, Zurich is frequently included among lists of the world’s most livable cities, although again living costs are high.

7. Paris


Paris is down slightly this year to place seventh in the city ranking, but nonetheless remains a top-10 study destination. The French capital also previously featured as the number one city for students between 2013 and 2017, and now earns its best score in the rankings indicator, with no fewer than 12 QS-ranked universities to choose from, led by Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) in 53rd place.

6. Montréal


Heading over to Canada, Montréal drops two places this year but nonetheless remains one of the top 10 places to study abroad in 2019. Previously claiming first place in 2017, it earns its best score in the student view indicator at second in the world, beaten only by Munich. When asked in our student survey what the best thing about studying in Montreal was, one respondent said: “You never get bored here. Lots of things to do and places to visit” while another called it “inclusive and friendly”.

5. Berlin


Berlin climbs two places in the city ranking this year, with improved scores in the student mix and student view indicators. Although it comes one place behind fellow German city Munich overall, the capital does earn a stronger score in the affordability category, with lower costs of living. Berlin features at fourth in the student view indicator, with one student commenting this in our survey: “You can meet new people every time and make new friends, and they're so many different people and personalities and they are all accepted and can be whoever they want to be.”

4. Munich


Also up two places in this year’s Best Student Cities index, Munich has the distinction of coming number one overall with students themselves in the student view indicator. Not only is Munich affordable (with no tuition fees for all students at public universities), it’s also a very lively and enjoyable study destination, with the annual Oktoberfest beer festival attracting millions of visitors every year.

3. Melbourne


Melbourne continues to be the third highest-ranked student city in the world in 2019, with a first-place position in the student mix indicator. It has the largest ratio of students to overall population in the top 10, and a whopping 41 percent of students come from outside Australia. Melbourne also places third in the student view indicator, with one individual in our survey commenting: “Melbourne is a vibrant, happening city which allows students to explore the hustling and bustling city life while receiving quality education”.

2. Tokyo


Ranked second among the world’s best places to study abroad this year is Japanese capital Tokyo, which is also ranked first in the world for desirability. What’s particularly notable is its excellent safety rating of 13th in Numbeo’s Safety Index despite its huge size, as well as the high quality of life available. Tokyo is also first in the world in the employer activity category, showing that it’s a key recruiting ground for graduate employers.

1. London


And finally, the number one student city continues to be London, which earns very high scores for every indicator except, of course, affordability. The 2019 edition of the Best Student Cities index saw London climb four spots in the student view indicator to now be rated in the top 10 by students themselves, with one student commenting this in our survey: “London is the most exciting city to live in in Europe, and the parks and green spaces are unparalleled.”

London also again claims first place in the rankings indicator, with a whopping 18 QS-ranked universities to choose from, including two which feature in the top 10 of the world university rankings: UCL (University College London) and Imperial College London at eighth and ninth respectively.

Think your student city deserves to be in the top 10? Take our short survey, and help create next year’s edition of the QS Best Student Cities index.

This article was originally published in July 2019 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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