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10 of the Safest Student Cities

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Studying abroad for the first time is likely to be a little daunting – so both you and your parents will want to assess the safety of your chosen destination. The following cities are the 10 highest ranked for safety in this year’s QS Best Student Cities 2017 index.

The index, which this year includes 100 cities, assesses locations on a range of categories including Affordability and Employer activity. The Desirability category takes into account each city’s safety score, as well as aspects such as general living standards, pollution and corruption. Scores are based on the safety index compiled by Numbeo (the reverse of the crime index), as well as data from the personal safety indicator of the Social Progress Index (country level), and The Economist’s Safe Cities Index.

1. Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe

Kyoto

Ranked first for safety this year is the combined Japanese metropolitan area of three cities - Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, also known as Keihanshin. The combined metropolitan area, which is ranked 17th overall in this year’s Best Student Cities index, scored a particularly impressive safety rating considering its huge size – the area is home to well over 19 million people in total. In fact, the main threat to safety here comes instead from the environment, as the region is prone to earthquakes. However, it’s also exceptionally well-prepared to deal with natural disasters.

Home to seven universities ranked among the world’s best in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe are key economic, travel and education hubs as well as being home to fascinating culture, both modern and traditional. 

2. Zurich

Zurich

Next in our list of the world’s safest cities is Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, which placed 15th overall in the Best Student Cities index. Located in a picturesque spot on the banks of Lake Zurich, the city has a clean, efficient and safe public transport system and very low pollution. A wealthy economic hub, Zurich does have high living costs which could be an obstacle for some students, but many will find the city worth the high cost. One respondent in our student survey praised the city’s “high quality of life, beautiful landscapes nearby, quiet and calm, lots of activities and excellent public transport”.

3. Tokyo

Tokyo

Heading back to Japan, capital city Tokyo is another huge metropolis with an excellent safety record. Like Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe, natural disasters pose more of a threat to safety than crime, but this high-tech city is also very well-prepared for whatever nature throws at it. Ranked seventh overall in the Best Student Cities index, Tokyo also has an impressively low pollution level for such a large city and new measures to cut greenhouse gases should ensure consistently high air quality.

=4. Copenhagen

Copenhagen

 Also featuring in the top five safest cities in the Best Student Cities index is Danish capital Copenhagen, which is ranked 37th overall. Frequently named as one of the most liveable cities in the world, Copenhagen is currently the 27th safest city in Numbeo’s index out of 378. Visitors to the city will find it friendly and easy to navigate, with an excellent transport system and “relaxed atmosphere”, according to one student from our survey. 

=4. Québec

Quebec

 Sharing fourth place for safety is the French-speaking Quebec City in Canada, which placed 72nd in the Best Student Cities index this year. Quebec is the safest city in both Canada and North America as a whole, with violent crime extremely rare. Full of beautiful, historic architecture with a distinct, European feel, Quebec is also home to Laval University, ranked 372nd in the World University Rankings.

6. Tampere

Copenhagen

Heading back to Scandinavia, and the Finnish city of Tampere is a new entrant in this year’s Best Student Cities at joint 94th overall. It’s one of the smallest cities in the index, giving it a friendly ‘university town’ feel which makes it safe, compact and easy to navigate. Ranked 15th in Numbeo’s Safety index, Tampere has an active cultural life and is home to some of Finland’s best universities.  

=7. Singapore

Singapore

Ranked joint seventh for safety and 14th overall, this densely populated city state is eighth in Numbeo’s safety index and is also ranked highly for quality of life and life. A global financial hub, Singapore also has very low unemployment and is home to the two highest ranked universities in Asia in the World University Rankings, with National University of Singapore (NUS) leading the way at 12th in the world. 

=7. Munich

Munich

Heading to Germany, and Munich is ranked ninth in the Best Student Cities index overall and is the second safest city in Numbeo’s 2017 Safety Index. Munich also receives a high score for Desirability, reflecting its overall high quality of life and other factors as well as safety. Known for its annual Oktoberfest, beer, food and affluence, Munich is home to Germany’s highest ranked university, Technische Universität München (ranked 60th in the world). 

9. Vienna

Vienna

Another city frequently seen on lists of the most liveable in the world is Austria’s capital Vienna, which is placed 16th in the Best Student Cities index this year. Home to around 2.6 million people and an internationally diverse student community, Vienna has a very low crime rate, is easy to navigate and achieves a top five score in the Desirability category. The city is Austria’s main center of education, with the University of Vienna consistently ranked in the global top 200. 

10. Brno

Brno

Last but not least in our list of the safest cities for students is the Czech city of Brno, which is ranked 59th overall in 2017. Brno also received a very high score in the new Student View category, which suggests the city’s students are enjoying their experience and are keen to stay after graduation. Home to charming medieval castles and an active cultural scene, student life in Brno is affordable, safe and enjoyable.

This article was originally published in December 2015. It was updated in February 2017 to reflect the results of the QS Best Student Cities 2017.

How would you rate your student city for safety? Share your experience in our student survey!

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, 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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