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Study in Edinburgh

By Staff Writer

Updated July 28, 2021 Updated July 28, 2021

Edinburgh for students

Ranking in this year's top 15, Edinburgh has been named as the UK’s second-best student city after London for the sixth time in a row.

With a relatively small population compared to many of the cities in the index, the Scottish capital has a large student community proportionate to its overall size, meaning it scores especially well for student mix. Notably, 39 percent of students at ranked universities in Edinburgh are international, providing a diverse and inclusive atmosphere.

The city is home to several of the best universities in the UK. The University of Edinburgh is ranked 16th in the QS World University Rankings® 2022 – the fifth-highest UK entry.

One survey respondent commented, “Edinburgh is the best city in the world. Not just the beautiful architecture and setting, the people make it great. Friendly and always accepting, I will never forget my time in Edinburgh.

Are you studying in Edinburgh? Share your experience.

Best universities in Edinburgh - QS Best Student Cities ranking: 12th

World Ranking



University of Edinburgh


Heriot-Watt University


Edinburgh Napier University

More about Edinburgh

Edinburgh is home to three highly reputable universities, including the University of Edinburgh which places in the world's top 20.

The city ranks well across each of the indicators, with a slightly lower score for affordability due to the high tuition fees for students outside of the EU.

Edinburgh achieves one of its highest scores (13th) in the student view indicator, showing that students in the city are undoubtedly enjoying their experience, and are often keen to stay after graduation.

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

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

University of Edinburgh (16th)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


Why study in Edinburgh

Home to seven annual global festivals

Whatever your interest, it’s likely Edinburgh has a festival to celebrate it. From the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh hosts seven festivals each year, attracting people from all around the world.

The world-class universities

Edinburgh is home to three top universities, including the University of Edinburgh which ranks 16th in the world.

Good employment prospects

Edinburgh places 35th in the world for employer activity this year – an indication that the city’s graduates are highly respected amongst employers.

If you’re from the EU, education is free!

Students coming from EU member countries won’t have to pay tuition fees to study in any of Scotland’s world-class universities.

Cost of studying in Edinburgh

Average fees for international students are a little higher than in cities such as London or Manchester at US$21,200 per year. However, for undergraduate students from within the EU (except those from England, Wales or Northern Ireland), university fees are entirely subsidised by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

So, depending on where you’re from, Edinburgh could be surprisingly affordable - it ranks joint 55th worldwide. 

However, the day-to-day cost of living is on the expensive side with Numbeo estimating a single persons monthly costs at around US$939 on average, with an additional US$1,125 needed for rent.

Life and culture in Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital is known for its historic old town, its striking castle and massive annual events such as the Edinburgh International Festival and New Year’s Hogmanay street party. Today, it is predominantly a student city, with three top universities attracting students from hundreds of countries worldwide.

Each year it hosts the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest arts festival. The Fringe features more than 55,000 performances in around 317 venues all across the city. It’s attended by people from all around the world.

The Edinburgh Fringe isn’t the only festival hosted in Edinburgh, however. Each year, the city hosts seven festivals, including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Science Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Edinburgh is also home to a wide collection of museums and art galleries. With three National Galleries, the National Museum of Scotland, the Writers’ Museum and the National War Museum, among many others, there’s plenty to see and do in this exciting city.

The famous Edinburgh castle is not to be missed. It has been used as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress and is now an iconic part of Edinburgh’s history.

Careers in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a range of opportunities and business opportunities open to graduates no matter what sector you’re looking to work in.

There are several international companies with offices in Edinburgh, such as JP Morgan. The city is also home to the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters and Cairn Energy, one of Europe’s biggest oil and gas companies. 

In addition to the numerous job opportunities available for Edinburgh’s graduates, the city ranks an impressive 35th worldwide in the employer activity indicator this year.

This article was originally published in November 2015 . It was last updated in July 2021

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