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London best student city again as Tokyo rises

London has retained the title of best student city in the world in the ranking compiled by higher education analyst Quacquarelli Symonds.

The talented individuals from around the world attracted to London make its an "intellectually diverse and stimulating learning environment", QS said. Photo: pexels

Overall, 70% of the 160 ranked cities saw declines for the affordability indicator in 2024

The 2024 iteration of QS Best Student Cities Rankings sees the UK capital city hold the top spot for the fifth consecutive while Tokyo in Japan has returned to second place for the first time since 2019.

The Japanese capital scored highly for employer activity, one of six key indicators used to create the list.

It came out top considering the situation for youth employment and the opinion of employers of graduates from local universities.

London, one of 16 UK cities featured in the list, took the number one position thanks to its high concentration of world-class universities, “excellent” student and graduate feedback, a diverse student population and “outstanding” career opportunities for graduates.

Seoul in South Korea was placed in third, with Melbourne in Australia and Germany’s Munich, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

Paris, Sydney, Berlin, Zurich and Boston rounded out the top 10.

The list only includes cities with more than 250,000 residents and with at least two universities in the QS World University Rankings.

Seoul dominates the World University Rankings indicator with its record 23 ranked universities.

Other indicators include student mix, including how many international students are enrolled in the city, desirability and affordability.

Coventry and Edinburgh, both in the UK, topped the student mix indicator, with Copenhagen in Denmark ranked highly for safety, low pollution levels and students saying they’d like to live in the city. Zurich and Sydney also both did well in the desirability indicator.

Three cities in Indonesia were among the top 10 locations for affordability, with Yogyakarta coming out top. Astana and Almaty, both in Kazakhstan, were ranked second and third for cost of living and tuition fees, respectively. Three Malaysian cities made the top 10 in the category, along with Izmir in Turkey and Timisoara in Romania.

“London offers students a unique blend of academic excellence, multicultural vibrancy and a thriving economy”

Overall, 70% of the 160 ranked cities saw declines for the affordability indicator in 2024.

Germany and Australia are each home to two of the world’s 10 best student cities, while Canada and the US each boast three top-20 student cities. The top-ranked city in Latin America is Buenos Aires at 34, mainland China’s is Beijing at 37, India’s is Mumbai at 118 and Cape Down is top in Africa at number 86.

The top student city in the Middle East for the 11th edition of the ranking is Dubai coming in at 54.

“London’s recognition as the ‘Best Student City 2024’ is a celebration of its role as a premier destination for education, innovation, and cultural vibrancy,” Jessica Turner, QS CEO, said.

Only Berlin in Germany ranked higher in the student view category than London.

“London offers students a unique blend of academic excellence, multicultural vibrancy and a thriving economy,” Turner added.

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