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Best Student Cities with Employers

Best Student Cities with Employers main image

One of the six indicators used to compile the recently released QS Best Student Cities 2019 is employer activity, a measure of which cities are the most sought-after as recruitment grounds for graduate employers. It looks at the opinions of both domestic and international employers, who identified at least one university in the city as producing high-quality graduates.

Arguably, studying somewhere employers are looking to recruit from is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing where to apply.

Here’s a closer look at the top 10 cities with employers.

10. Hong Kong (SAR)

Hong Kong

Up 14 places in the employer activity indicator this year, Hong Kong is known for being one of the world’s leading financial centers. Home to over seven million people, it also features at an impressive joint 10th place overall in the QS Best Student Cities index.

The city earns its highest score, however, in the rankings indicator, boasting seven top-rate universities in the QS World University Rankings® 2020, led by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) at joint 25th in the world.

9. Sydney


Climbing four places to rank within the top 10 for the employer activity indicator this year is Sydney. Home to the world famous Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour and a multitude of gorgeous beaches, Sydney also ranks ninth overall in the Best Student Cities index this year.

Graduates from Sydney’s universities can enjoy Australia’s low unemployment rate and strong economy, with plenty of large international firms having offices in the city, and consequently high graduate employability.

8. Paris


Ranked eighth for employer activity, and seventh overall in the Best Student Cities ranking, The City of Lights has captured the hearts of students around the world. Paris has one of the highest numbers of internationally ranked universities in the index at 12, earning it fifth place in the rankings indicator. 93 percent of HEC Paris School of Management’s graduates accepted job offers within three months of graduating, and the city, including the surrounding Île-de-France region, accounts for 30 percent of France’s GDP.

7. Melbourne


Up three places to rank seventh for employer activity this year and third overall, Melbourne is Australia’s best-performing entrant in the QS Best Student Cities ranking and also receives a very high score for student view, an indicator based on our student survey, in which one question is whether students had stayed (or were planning to stay) in their city after graduation.

Melbourne’s highest-ranked university in the QS World University Rankings® is the University of Melbourne in 38th place, which boasts one of the best graduate employment rates in the country.

6. Seoul


South Korean capital Seoul is another prosperous Asian city and the country’s major hub for business, finance and technology. Also ranked joint 10th overall, it hosts many of the country’s most prestigious institutions, including Seoul National University, which is ranked in the global top 50.

5. Zurich


Zurich comes fifth in the employer activity and eighth overall in the Best Student Cities index this year, with top-50 positions for all the indicators except affordability. Consistently voted one of the best cities in the world for overall quality of life, Zurich’s high score for employer activity is helped by the presence of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which appears in the top 10 of the World University Rankings. Respondents in our student survey also commented on the ‘many job opportunities’ available in Zurich.

4. Beijing


Ranked 32nd overall, Chinese capital Beijing is the home of highly regarded institutions such as Tsinghua University, which was the highest-ranked Asian university in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2019 at ninth.

Beijing has one of the most prosperous and developed economies in Mainland China, with 52 Fortune Global 500 companies based here, the most in the world. Key industries in Beijing include finance, tourism, electronics, mining and machinery.

3. London


Ranked as the best city in the world for the second time in a row this year, London also features in first place in the rankings indicator, thanks to its 18 internationally ranked universities, including UCL (University College London) and Imperial College London.

London’s economy is so strong, it’s comparable to the size of Sweden or Iran, and graduates of its universities generally enjoy high employment rates and graduate salaries (although arguably this is necessitated by the city’s high cost of living).

In this year’s student survey there were many comments about the opportunities available in London, with one student saying that they loved “the many employment prospects available – the city contains most major banks/law firms and media companies.”

2. Boston


Boston is ranked second in the world for employer activity, surpassing all other US cities, including the global financial hub of New York City. Also ranked 12th overall, Boston is home to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, which consistently place in the global top five of the world rankings.

According to a recent ranking by US News and World Report, Harvard Business School graduates have the one of the highest starting salaries in the country, at $159,314.

1. Tokyo


The highest-ranked student city for employer activity continues to be Tokyo this year, and the city also ranks second in the world. The University of Tokyo was ranked 19th in the latest QS Graduate Employability Rankings, the third highest-ranked institution in Asia, earning its best scores for the graduate employment rate and employer reputation indicators.

Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world and is Japan’s leading industrial center, holding its own against competing financial centers like Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Which student city would get your vote? Let us know in our survey, and have a say in next year’s results.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
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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