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The 10 Best Student Cities In The World

Despite terror attacks, Paris prevails in QS' set of top cities

Tue Dec 1 2015

Defiant in the face of adversity, Paris has once again been ranked as the world’s best student city.

Released on Tuesday, the QS 2016 Best Student Cities Ranking lists Paris as the world’s top student destination for the fourth year running, with Melbourne coming in second place and Tokyo third.

Despite November’s barbaric terror attacks, during which IS militants killed at least 129 people including former HEC Paris MBA student Juan Alberto González Garrido, the city’s student community continues to thrive.

“Paris is more determined than ever to defend its values of solidarity, freedom and creativity,” says Thierry Coulhon, president of Paris Sciences et Lettres, an association of Paris universities.

The attacks have failed to destroy the spirit of a historically resilient city which prides itself on its culture and arts as well as its academic and scientific excellence.

“It is a unique place to learn, discover, study, engage and exchange; a place where dialogue, fraternity and freedom shall always prevail,” says Jacques Biot, president of École Polytechnique, a top French university.

Relatively low tuition fees, a large number of world-renowned universities and strong employer recognition explain Paris’ continued status as the world’s top student city, while London comes further down the rankings due to its high living costs. Despite being home to some of the world’s most prestigious business schools, no US cities make up the top 10.

1.            Paris


Home to the palatial emporium of knowledge HEC Paris, the French capital is a deserved winner. From the grand majesty of the Champs-Élysées to the narrow cobbled streets of Montmartre, Paris glows with an irrepressible spirit, only strengthened by recent tragic events. Students from all over the world, drawn to Paris for its scholarships, art, fashion and reputation for romance, sip coffee, eat croissants and chatter in the city’s cafes. 

2.            Melbourne

melbourne 2

Up until 1966, pubs in Melbourne closed at 6pm. Today, things are slightly different. By night, swarms of swashbuckling students stampede through the city’s bar and club scene. Melbourne is a fast-paced, modern and happening city, host to Australia’s foremost sporting events: the Grand Prix, the tennis open and the Australian Football League grand final. MBA students moving thousands of miles from home are attracted by a decisively Australian city with a familiar cosmopolitan feel.

3.            Tokyo


Tokyo is a crazy neon maze and by far the most populated metropolis on the planet. It’s an a million miles an hour, rocket-fuelled city; so busy that at rush-hour, station attendants known as “pushers” are employed to thrust commuters onto crowded trains. Students continue to flock to the Japanese capital for a taste of life in the fast-lane, with exciting MBA programs on offer from a variety of business schools including the Globis University Graduate School of Management, the largest business school in Japan.

4.            Sydney


Best known for its iconic harbor-front opera house, Sydney exudes Australian culture. With a more relaxed feel than Melbourne, Sydney is a warm, vibrant city offering an attractive combination of brilliant beaches and big business. It’s also home to one of the country’s most popular and highly regarded MBA programs at the University of New South Wales’ Australian Graduate School of Management.

5.            London


London has the highest concentration of globally-renowned universities in the world and boasts an impressive array of top business schools, which attract a vastly diverse student community. London Business School is ranked second only to Harvard in the Financial Times Global MBA rankings 2015, while Cass Business School, Imperial College and Hult International all offer high-class international MBA courses.

6.            Singapore


The busy streets of Singapore aren’t quite paved with gold, but the high-tech business hub is the perfect place for MBA students wanting to make some serious cash. According to a Boston Consulting Group Study, Singapore is the city with the highest concentration of millionaires in the world. It’s no wonder that so many ambitious young professionals pursue MBAs at INSEAD’s world renowned Asia campus in the thriving city-state.

7.            Montreal


Montreal is a city of surprises. On the surface, its skyscrapered skyline is typical of the world’s leading modern destinations. Yet beneath lies a vast labyrinth of tunnels connecting shops, bars and cinemas which form Montreal’s underground city. The second-largest French speaking city in the world after Paris, Montreal is home to a number of top universities and has the cheapest tuition fees in Canada.

8.            Hong Kong


Hong Kong is the city where East meets West. At lunchtime in Hong Kong, swathes of designer-suited businessmen swoop down from skyscrapers to sample the city’s traditional Chinese street food. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), home to Asia’s longest-established MBA program, mirrors this confluence of cultures: its students are offered a modern, western education that is combined with Chinese philosophy and values.

9.            Berlin


Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city has boomed. Today it’s a modern, multicultural and 24-hour city. Its nightlife is as infamous as it is exclusive. Temperamental bouncers with brutal door policies guard the city’s top clubs. In the vastly more inclusive, international MBA scene, Berlin IMB and ESMT Berlin boast the city’s most sought-after MBA programs.

10.          Seoul


With 24-hour study rooms, hangover cafes and McDonald's available on delivery, Seoul is the perfect destination for the debauched student dreaming of dancing Gangnam Style until the early hours of the morning. The incomprehensibly popular song by South Korean “musician” Psy, has propelled the city and the excesses of its modern Gangnam business district to international fame. Yet Seoul has a more serious side; it’s home to tech giants Samsung and LG and its Sungkyunkwan University offers a popular MBA program.