Top 10 Cities in the World to be a Student

What makes your student life really memorable apart from the learning you take home from the classrooms? It is bound to be the time spent outside - in the campus and around the city! Students consider not just the university or college  but also the city it is located in while narrowing down on a place to study.

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Higher education rating experts, QS Ranking have taken into consideration factors such as universities, cost of living, standard of living, job opportunities & student mix, and drawn up a list of the best cities for students. So if you are an Indian student planning to study abroad, here is a look at the top ten student cities around the world:

1. Montreal, Canada

Leading the list is the second largest city in Canada, Montreal and it holds the distinction of being the only French-speaking city in North America. But services are available in English as well, apart from a host of other languages. Montreal allows you to accept diversity (it has a great student mix with Indian, Chinese, Brazilian, French, Indonesian nationalities) yet retain your own cultural identity. It is one of the most student friendly cities in the world - out of its 3.6 million residents, more than 2 lakh are students.

Montreal, city, student, mcgill university

Montreal, Quebec is known for its warm culture, safety and cosmopolitan flavour. Its McGill university ranks among the best in the world and has more than 600 Indian students pursuing its post graduate programs.

2. Paris, France - "The City of Light"

Rebecca, student, Paris

Paris played a major role to usher in the "Age of Enlightenment" in Europe and has traditionally been a centre of learning in the continent. It continues to be the second sought after destination for students from around the world, being home to some of the top educational institutes in the world such as École Normale Superieure (ENS Paris), École Polytechnique (ParisTech), Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) and top ranked business schools such as INSEAD, ESSEC, HEC and ESCP Europe.

Constantly rated among Europe's most livable cities, the charm of the city lies in the heady mix of culture, beauty and art it offers. From a student's point of view, Paris is great for the easy access to the best institutes, affordable fee, small-sized classes and focused teaching.

"While class ranking and marks in exams remain the foremost criteria to determine the future of a Master's student in India, it is the 'quality' of research work/ internship thesis/ project work that decides his future in France. Unlike most internships in India, internships in Paris put students in an actual working environment, focussing on learning by application. It was during such an internship at CEA that I was exposed to the real research world. From exchanging ideas and offering suggestions for improvement to sharing published research papers, the scientific community here is more open and hence, conducive to progress in the field of science," says Rebecca Alexander, who is a Ph.D. student (Nuclear Materials) at CEA, Saclay and Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau. She completed her Master's in Nuclear Plant Design at University of Paris Sud-11 after graduating in Physics (Honours) from St. Stephen's College, Delhi.

Sharing her experience as a student in Paris, Rebecca says, "There are special sales and student concessions on everything, right from movies to metro tickets to museums/ historical sight visits and even haircuts! In fact, most museums and historical places are free for students in Paris, provided they are under 26 years of age. French can be a problem but you can always find French people who want to learn English and would like to befriend you. There are a lot of language exchange programs that can be chosen according to convenience. Another student friendly step was the setting up of Cite Universitaire de Paris. It is considered the most safe place in Paris, set in a posh neighbourhood and is available at nominal prices for students from all over the world. A wide range of activites are a part and parcel of student life here (sports, dancing, debates, technical talks/ discussions and more.) One can never get bored in Paris!"

3. London, UK

Zana, student, LondonHome to more than 1 lakh international students from 200+ countries, (UKCISA, 2011-12 statistics), London is one of the most popular student cities in the world. Out of the 45 universities in the city, Imperial College London, University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, Queen Mary, University of London and King's College London figure in the top 100 Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014 - 15.

Since London is also a financial nerve-centre, it attracts a lot of industry and corporate players, making it a recruiters hub. Home to more than 1,000 museums and galleries, London is a cultural delight for students. It also offers endless opportunities for fun - 100+ cinemas, 350+ live music venues, 17,000+ restaurants and countless parks.

"London is the most international city in the world and Indians are extremely welcome. Do not judge it by the visa rules. London is more than visas. And, you get better Indian food here than in India," said NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul this year in response to a survey by London University International Partnership (LUIP), which revealed that 85% of Indian students currently studying in London felt that it broadened horizons and gave a wider array of career choices.

"One of the great things about studying in London is its diverse cultural mix. I chose to study in King's College London over University of Warwick just so that I could be in London. I used to share a flat with people from different parts of the world. It is truly an enriching experience," said Zana Hussain from India.

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4.  Seoul, South Korea

The universities of Seoul have been making news, with the Seoul National University leading the pack. Koreans take academics quite seriously but also know how to party (you MUST have heard of K pop or Gangnam Stye!)

Skyline of downtown Seoul, South Korea from bongeunsa temple

Seoul is a city that never sleeps and has a blend of the old and the new - modern building coexist with ancient palaces and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Indian students can check out the Silk-Road Scholarship Program at Seoul National University for humanities or social science programs.

5. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne's ranking at the second place is mainly due to a vibrant student mix. It welcomes international students and has some of the largest and best universities of Australia such as University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology etc. Constantly rated among world's most livable cities, Melbourne has the best of Australia's attractions - fairly sunny climate, great nightlife, gorgeous beaches and cultural richness & diversity.

Melbourne, student city

Though the tuition fee and living costs are slightly on the higher side, it is balanced out by good employment prospects and student diversity. Melbourne attracts the highest number of international students than any other city in Australia.

6. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a mesmerizing and exhilarating city for students who want to experience a fantastic study abroad experience. It is one of those ideal places for student group travel where there are all sorts of student travel deals and discount flights.


Once you are in Berlin, you will a lot of choices for tours at an affordable price. Students travelling in Berlin will have a great time as they can enjoy everything Berlin has to offer such as fancy restaurants, amazing public transportation which is quite helpful when you want to move around the city. Berlin is at the heart of Germany and that makes it easier to travel by train from Berlin to other European cities such as Prague, Paris, Vienna and much more.  

7. Tokyo, Japan

A city where the past meets the future, Tokyo is described by international students as clean, dynamic, busy, eclectic and huge! It scores high on the "desirability" index which is calculated on the basis of varied factors such as safety, pollution, corruption and liveability. Being a top financial hub, Tokyo is also a favourite among employers, both domestic and international.

Tokyo, student, city

Although an expensive city, sightseeing in Tokyo almost costs nothing. You can visit the Shinto shrines, many of its parks and gardens for free! There are many affordable restaurants around the universities that cater to students with their cheap and filling options such as ramen (egg noodles) and tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlets.)

8. Boston, USA

Known as the "Athen of America" for its immense intellectual and cultural resources, with its proximity to Cambridge, Boston is synonymous with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Harvard University. Boston is the only city (apart from London) that scores a perfect 100 on the "Employer Activity" index, underlining the reputation of its institutes among prospective recruiters.

Boston, student, city

With more than 80 colleges (business schools, art schools, music conservatories, institutes of technology and more), 2.5 lakh college students, numerous concerts, great museums, street festivals and steeped in history & culture, Boston is truly America's college town!

9. Munich, Germany

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, a federal state of Germany. Munich is great place for students who want to study abroad as it is popularly known for Oktoberfest, which is held annually where more than 6 million people from all around the world would gather for this event on that particular day.

There are quite a handful of career fairs that is held for every semester in Munich’s main universities. Students will it easy when it comes to looking for internships. Apart from that, there are plenty of part-time job opportunities available within the universities such as working in the library, assisting other lecturers and professors and much more as this will help the students if they’d want to add some extra bucks into their pockets.  

10. Toronto, Canada

Canada is the only country with 3 student cities ranked in the top 13. Montreal's rival student city, Toronto is Canada's largest. The University of Toronto ranks among the top universities of the world, ahead of Montreal's McGill. Toronto is among the world’s most multicultural cities and scores the highest overall in the "desirability" index. (P.S: The Niagara Falls is not that far from Toronto!)

Toronto, student, city

Canada has a much more student-friendly immigration policy when compared with the US, the UK and Australia. It allows students to work  on the campus and off campus as well to repay their student loans. After finishing graduation, international students receive a permit to work in Canada for up to three years.

About Nishatha Abraham Bijeesh

Nishatha has been writing about education in India and abroad for the last 9 years. She has been in the digital marketing industry for 8+ years and specializes in content marketing. Nothing annoys her more than slow wi-fi, incorrect usage of the apostrophe and people mispronouncing her name. She prefers not to talk about herself in the third person, but reluctantly, had to do so here!

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