Best Student Cities for Quality of Living 2014 | Top Universities

Best Student Cities for Quality of Living 2014

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016

We’ve looked at the 10 most affordable student cities – but how about the top 10 student cities for quality of living? Here’s a quick look at this year’s highest scorers in this category of the QS Best Student Cities 2014...

The Best Student Cities index, which ranks the world’s top 50 cities for students, is based on 14 individual indicators, grouped into five categories: University Rankings, Student Mix, Quality of Living, Employer Activity and Affordability. The Quality of Living score is compiled using data from the Mercer Quality of Living Survey and Loughborough University’s Globalization and World Cities index.  

Each city also has to meet the two basic criteria for inclusion in the QS Best Student Cities: a population of over 250,000 and at least two universities assessed within the QS World University Rankings®.


Top 10 Student Cities for Quality of Living

So, for those looking for a study destination which promises high living standards, a global outlook and a healthy selection of leading universities, here are the cities which should be top of your list:

1. Vienna

No surprises here: the Austrian capital also tops the Mercer list, and is well known for its high living standards. It ranks 15= in the overall Best Student Cities this year, sharing this position with Irish capital Dublin. Vienna’s top-ranked universities are Universität Wien (ranked within the world’s top 200) and Technische Universität Wien (top 300).

Read more about Vienna >

2= Zurich

Again, Zurich also comes second in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, with a well established reputation for high living standards (accompanied by high living costs, but for students this is offset by relatively low tuition fees). It ranks 5= in the Best Student Cities overall, alongside Melbourne, and is home to two universities within the world’s top 100, including ETH Zurich, currently ranked 12th in the world.

Read more about Zurich >

2= Sydney

Level pegging with Zurich, Sydney is Australia’s sole representative in this top 10, though in general Australian cities do score well for quality of living. The iconic Aussie city is at 4th overall in the Best Student Cities this year, enjoying strong scores in all categories with the exception of affordability. Its highest ranking institution is the University of Sydney, and the city boasts four more entries in the QS World University Rankings.

Read more about Sydney >

4. Munich

Germany’s third largest city just sneaks into the top 10 of the overall Best Student Cities this year, overtaking Berlin. It’s the only city to make the top 10 for both quality of living and affordability, with tuition fees that are already low and soon to be abolished altogether. Munich’s top universities are the second and third highest ranked in Germany: Technische Universität München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

Read more about Munich >

5. Amsterdam

In fifth place, yet another European city – but then the region does dominate the overall ranking, accounting for 21 of the world’s top 50 student cities. Well known for its attractive canal-crossed center, thriving art scene and laidback lifestyle, the Netherlands’ capital ranks 36th overall this year, and is home to the country’s highest ranked institution, the University of Amsterdam (within the global top 100), as well as Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (top 200).

Read more about Amsterdam >

6. Vancouver

North America’s highest score for quality of living goes to Vancouver, which is also one of the Mercer top 10. In the overall index, Vancouver stands at 21=, alongside New York and behind Canada’s two other entries, Montréal and Toronto. But its global outlook makes it the nation’s top contender in the quality of life category – though Toronto is close behind. The city’s top institution, the University of British Columbia, is within the world’s top 50.

Read more about Vancouver >

7. Toronto

Offering a second Canadian option is Toronto, currently 13th in the overall Best Student Cities. Montréal in fact remains the country’s highest ranked student city overall, but Toronto can now boast the nation’s highest ranked university – in the last edition of the QS World University Rankings, the University of Toronto climbed to 17=, overtaking McGill (21st).

Read more about Toronto >

8. Auckland

A new entry in the QS Best Student Cities this year, Auckland is ranked 18= overall, alongside Beijing.

New Zealand’s largest city is again well known for high quality of living, coming third in the Mercer survey, as well as for its impressively internationally diverse population. Its top institution, the University of Auckland, is the highest ranked in the country, and within the global top 100.

Read more about Auckland >

9= Singapore

The sole Asian city to make the top 10 for quality of living, Singapore comes out even higher in the overall index – 3rd this year, behind only Paris and London. Densely populated and highly international, the thriving city state now boasts one of the world’s top 25 universities, the National University of Singapore, and another in the world’s top 50.

Read more about Singapore >

9= Copenhagen

Rounding off the top 10 alongside Singapore is the Danish capital – another European city with a long-established reputation for high living standards. The attractive waterway-based city ranks 20th overall, with its flagship University of Copenhagen ranked among the world’s top 50, and several specialist institutions also internationally esteemed in their fields.

Read more about Copenhagen >

This article was originally published in November 2013 . It was last updated in March 2016

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Written by

The former editor of, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'


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