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QS Best Student Cities ranking: 24th

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a hugely popular tourist destination, known for its pretty canals, art scene (both historic and contemporary), café culture and generally laid-back and tolerant character. In 2019, Amsterdam has climbed three places to reach 24th, after seeing a huge 20 place rise in the student mix indicator, as well as an improvement in the student view indicator, where it now ranks fifth in the world. This improvement reflects Amsterdam’s high quality of life, vibrant student community, and good ratings from graduate employers both locally and further afield. 

While Amsterdam doesn’t have the huge selection of high-ranking universities claimed by the likes of London and Paris, its flagship University of Amsterdam certainly holds its own, coming 64th in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

Aside from all those picture-postcard views, the city does have its seedier side – of which the notorious Red Light District is the commercialized, tourist-friendly face. As a student, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Amsterdam’s pleasanter delights: spend a day rummaging through a flea market, admiring the works of the great masters up-close, or discovering great new street art; head to the latest hot music venue, enjoy cycling beside the pretty waterways, or spend an afternoon (and evening) at your favorite café, catching up with friends.

Amsterdam receives a very high score for desirability, reflecting its safety and high quality of life. It also prompts good reviews from many students, with one survey respondent praising the city’s lifestyle and inclusivity: “Amsterdam offers incredibly high living standards and is very open towards the LGBT community.” Another commented, “The city is very tolerant and full of art and culture, plus the nightlife is amazing.

Would Amsterdam get your vote? Tell us why.

Internationally ranked universities in Amsterdam

More about Amsterdam

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank



To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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Ehh.. Amsterdam is definitely not the best student city of the Netherlands. It's not even a real "studentenstad".
Leiden, Utrecht and Groningen are the best cities to study in the Netherlands. They are full of students (national and international), good uni's and nice pubs and clubs. Also, the price of a house near a uni in Amsterdam is crazy expensive. It might be the first place people think of when they want to go to the Netherlands, but it is not the best place to study.

In many ways it is the best place to study. The cities you name are cosy cities, but neither of them offer the opportunities that Amsterdam have. Amsterdam is ranked for it's high quality education (UvA), it's living standards, the LGBT community and the work possibilities after studying. On top of that Amsterdam has a proper international environment. The fact that it is expensive is included in the ranking. However, what is expensive? Compared to London, Paris, NY, Miami, the cost for living in Amsterdam are close to zero.