Top 10 Student Cities According to Students in 2018 | Top Universities

Top 10 Student Cities According to Students in 2018

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Sabrina Collier

Updated Jul 31, 2019



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How did the results change in the 2019 index? Click here to find out.

As of 2017, the QS Best Student Cities ranking now includes a student view indicator, based on ratings from more than 50,000 students and recent graduates which were gathered in our student survey.

Students were asked to rate their city on eight categories: arts and culture, affordability, nightlife, employment opportunities, diversity, tolerance and inclusion, ease of getting around, and friendliness. They were also asked whether they’d like to stay, or had stayed, in the city after graduating, reflecting their views on its employment prospects.

Looking at the results for this indicator alone gives a fantastic idea of what it’s like to be a student in some of the world’s top cities. This year’s results see large, famous cities like London, New York and Sydney improve on their performance in last year’s survey, although it’s interesting to see they haven’t yet reached the top 10.

Here’s a closer look at the top 10 cities according to students.

Honorable mentions

While they weren’t rated within the overall top 10, some special mentions should go out to:

  • Dublin – ranked number one for tolerance & inclusion, and 34th overall
  • New York – ranked 11th for student view but best in the world for staying after graduation
  • Edinburgh – ranked fourth for the student experience aspect of the student view category, and 12th overall
  • Budapest – ranked first in the affordability category and within the top 50 for student view

10. Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Argentina’s capital and largest city, Buenos Aires is the highest-ranked Latin American city in the QS Best Student Cities 2018, climbing 17 places this year to rank 25th. This is thanks to its huge climb in the student view indicator, up 49 places to 10th – gaining one of the highest scores in the indicator for ‘student experience’.

With a reputation as a fun-loving, cosmopolitan ‘Paris of South America’, Buenos Aires is famed for its outstanding cultural life and party scene.

9. Brno


One of the lesser-known entrants in the QS Best Student Cities ranking, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city Brno is again featured among the top 10 cities as rated by students. Brno receives the second-highest score for ‘student experience’ within the student view indicator, reflecting the vibrant, enjoyable Moravian culture on offer, as well as its overall affordability, ease of getting around, and tolerance and inclusivity.

Brno also has a very large student population, making it easy to meet new people.

8. Berlin


One of two German cities to rank among the top 10 as rated by students, capital city Berlin is up five places this year to eighth, notably achieving fourth place for its ‘staying after graduation’ factor, which reflects the city’s strength as a major economic center with a booming tech startup industry.

It’s also fast becoming known as one of the trendiest cities in Europe, with exciting music, dance and arts scenes, and it boasts the highest score for affordability of any of the cities on this list.

7. Amsterdam


The Netherlands’ capital city Amsterdam made a huge leap in the student view indicator this year, up an impressive 40 places to now rank seventh among students. This has no doubt helped it improve its overall rank in the QS Best Student Cities (from 36th to 27th).

Frequently ranked as one of the most livable cities, Amsterdam is small in comparison to cities like London, but easy to get around and nonetheless packed with things to do, particularly its thriving nightlife.

6. Stockholm


Swedish capital Stockholm made the biggest climb in the student view indicator – up a remarkable 60 places this year to rank sixth for this category. It’s also climbed 14 spots overall in the QS Best Student Cities, to rank 33rd. Stockholm is known for its openness, equality, and modern, tolerant society.

Unfortunately, student life in Stockholm doesn’t come cheap, with some of the highest living costs around (although students from the EU don’t need to pay tuition fees). However, it’s clearly worth the high price tag for many.

5. Vienna


Austria’s capital and largest city Vienna is another big climber in the student view indicator, up 49 spots to now rank fifth as rated by students (and 11th overall). One of the most historic European capitals and known for being ‘the City of Music’, Vienna was ranked number one by Mercer in their annual Quality of Living survey for eight consecutive years until 2016.

It also performs well in the student mix indicator, with a large and diverse student population, and is in the top 50 for affordability, with tuition fees of €1453.44 (~US$1,750) per year for non-EU students.

4. Prague


The second Czech city to rank among the top 10 best student cities according to students is its capital Prague, which is also ranked within the top 50 for affordability thanks to some of the lowest living costs in Europe, while tuition fees are in the mid-range.

Prague is known for its beautiful architecture, cheap beer, and reputation as a major cultural center, and students are certainly having a good time here, having rated it fifth for ‘student experience’.

3. Melbourne


As well as being the third-best city according to students, Melbourne also claims the highest rank in the Best Student Cities 2018 table for student mix, an impressive feat considering its large size. 4.9 percent of its population are students, almost a third of whom are international students.

Melbourne is ranked 10th for ‘student experience’ and third for ‘staying after graduation’, suggesting that staying and working in Melbourne after graduation is an attractive prospect.

2. Munich


Not just an ideal study destination for those who are partial to beer and pretzels, the student lifestyle on offer in Munich may cost slightly more than other German cities but is clearly worth every penny as its ranked second by students this year, up 24 places.

As well as being a fun-loving tourist attraction, Munich has the strongest economy of any German city and the lowest unemployment rate, so it’s unsurprising to see it in fifth place for ‘staying after graduation’.

1. Montréal

While the French-speaking Montréal may no longer be the number one student city overall in the QS Best Student Cities index, the 2018 results see it overtake fellow Canadian city Ottawa as the number one city according to students.

Montréal is ranked 10th for ‘staying after graduation’ and is first for ‘student experience’.  When asked to describe what the best thing about Montréal was, one respondent in our survey said: “It's cheap, interesting, and there's a large focus on arts and culture,” while another said, “It’s cultural, young and lively. It has absolutely the BEST foods, a European feel, study cafés everywhere, and beautiful people from all over”.

Think your student city deserves to be in this list? Take our short survey, and help create next year’s edition of the QS Best Student Cities index.

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