Top 10 Student Cities in Europe 2015 | Top Universities

Top 10 Student Cities in Europe 2015

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Laura Tucker

Updated Sep 30, 2016



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Ever wondered what any of the major cities in Europe would be like to study in as an international student? Well, look no further! We’ve selected the top 10 cities in Europe for students, based on the QS Best Student Cities 2015 – read on for a summary of the key factors that make each of these European cities great international study destinations.

While some cities in Europe gain high points for “affordability” (largely thanks to low or non-existent tuition fees) others stand out for their large selection of prestigious universities, high quality of living, or large student community. Whether you’re all about the food, the culture, the career prospects or the intriguing history, these top 10 places to study in Europe undoubtedly have something for everyone.

1. Paris

Average international tuition fees: US$2,400

Highest ranked institution: ENS Paris (24th in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15)

Crowned as the world’s best city for students for the third time running in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, Paris is more than just a smug couples’ heaven. Boasting 17 internationally ranked universities – the majority of which charge minimal tuition fees – Paris continues to attract hordes of international students yearly, thanks to its youthful atmosphere, world-famous cuisine and rich cultural and academic heritage. Budding fashion designers, artists and writers will all feel at home in this iconic and attractive city.

2. London

Average international tuition fees: US$22,100

Highest ranked institution: Imperial College London (2= in the world)

Third in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, behind Paris and Melbourne, the UK capital is a city where everything’s world-class except the weather. If you can get used to carrying an umbrella around with you, then London is a fantastic place to study in Europe – international cuisine, an unbeatable theatre scene, buzzing comedy clubs, non-stop party lifestyle and a highly diverse and inclusive atmosphere. For art lovers and history buffs, London offers a wealth of museums and galleries (many free), while almost every street corner is bursting with chilling historical anecdotes (think Victorian serial killers, hidden dungeons and Great Fires).

3. Zurich

Average international tuition fees: US$2,000

Highest ranked institution: ETH Zurich (12th in the world)

Just outside of the overall top 10 of the QS Best Student Cities 2015, Switzerland’s largest metropolis owes its placing as the third best city to study in Europe to a high quality of living (beating both Paris and London on this indicator), a good level of employer activity and a diverse student mix. Nicknamed the ‘Singapore of Europe’, thanks to its thriving financial center and spotless streets, Zurich has much more going on than you might expect – from trendy bars and restaurants to vibrant street art, Europe’s biggest open-air dance party, and visits to the nearby lakes and mountains.

4. Munich

Average international tuition fees: US$0

Highest ranked institution: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (52= in the world)

Munich, or München as it’s known in German, is this year ranked 14th overall in the QS Best Student Cities, scoring highly for affordability (universities in Germany are free for all undergraduate students), quality of living and employer activity. Home to a thriving automobile industry and glittering commercialism, and rivalling even Zurich with its awe-inspiring backdrop of lakes and mountains, Munich proves itself to be at one with both nature and business. This Bavarian city is also likely to be popular among anyone with an interest in football and anyone with a taste for beer – it’s the home of both FC Bayern Munich and Oktoberfest.

5. Berlin

Average international tuition fees: US$0

Highest ranked institution: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (134th in the world)

The second German city included among the top five student cities in Europe, Berlin comes 16th overall in the QS Best Student Cities 2015. Like Munich, Berlin’s position is largely due to its high score for affordability – thanks to non-existent tuition fees at universities in Germany combined with low living costs – as well as a good quality of life. Still full of the narratives of WWII and the Cold War, Berlin combines its weighty recent history with a youthful and creative character; in the past few decades it’s garnered a deserved reputation for hip cosmopolitanism, artistic persuasions and inclusivity.

6. Barcelona

Average international tuition fees: US$2,500

Highest ranked institution: University of Barcelona (166th in the world)

Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona is ranked as the top Spanish study destination in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, placed 19th overall (capital Madrid comes 39th). With tuition fees on the affordable side, students studying in Barcelona should have plenty of funds spare to explore the city’s medieval history, city-side beaches, famous architecture, museums and markets – not to mention the renowned Barcelona nightlife and authentic Catalonian cuisine.

7. Vienna

Average international tuition fees: US$500

Highest ranked institution: University of Vienna (156= in the world)

Austria’s capital, Vienna, is ranked 20th in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, thanks to high scores for overall quality of life, affordability and student mix. Ranked 2nd in the world for ‘liveability’ by The Economist, Vienna can offer exorbitantly low tuition fees (although not as low as universities in Germany!), an eclectic variety of architectural styles and artistic legacies, and a café culture you’ll never want to give up.

8. Edinburgh

Average international tuition fees: US$22,000

Highest ranked institution: University of Edinburgh (17= in the world)

Shooting up six places in the QS Best Student Cities to rank joint 26th alongside Beijing, is the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Despite relatively low scores for affordability (tuition fees for international students are towards the higher end), Edinburgh excels in the ‘student mix’ category, thanks to the high percentage of international students at the city’s two ranked universities. A wonderful city of castles, cobbles and culture, highlighted annually by the internationally famed Edinburgh Festival Fringe (a month-long cultural showcase of comedy, theatre and the arts), Edinburgh has enough attractions to overcome its admittedly unappealing weather.

9. Copenhagen

Average international tuition fees: US$9,500

Highest ranked institution: University of Copenhagen (45th in the world)

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, is the number one Nordic student city this year, ranked 28th in the QS Best Student Cities 2015. Although not the most affordable city in terms of daily living costs, it offers tuition fees somewhere in the mid-range, and a quality of living which is second-to-none, reflecting a culture of clean living, progressive politics and the world’s most transparent society. Study in Copenhagen for its youthful feel, its unbeatable street style and its rich Norse history (read: Vikings!).

10. Manchester

Average international tuition fees: US$20,300

Highest ranked institution: The University of Manchester (30th in the world)

On par with Adelaide in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, in 29th place, Manchester is the UK’s third representative in this list of student cities in Europe. Known for its key role in the Industrial Revolution, this city in “the North” of England is now famous for its vibrant live music scene and nightlife. With a ‘student mix’ score among the strongest in the index, Manchester’s three internationally ranked universities are highly diverse in their enrolments, and in general it’s an inclusive and diverse city in which to live.

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