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Best student city in the world 2021

Deciding where to go to university is one of the biggest decisions young people pursuing higher education make.

We created the Student Cities Index to find out the best cities for students in the world. Just because a city is one of the most popular doesn’t mean it is the best. Our research looked into factors like the cost of rent, living, and a MacBook as well as internet speeds and the percentage of young people. We also looked at the number of high-ranking universities, the best places for food, levels of safety, and free speech.

Map of the best student cities in the world

Contents:

Top 10 Student cities in the world

1. Tokyo

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Taking the crown as the best student city in the world is Tokyo, Japan. The city ranks well in nearly all categories helping it to come out on top of the study. It has a good amount of high-ranking unis, great food options, and offers cheap tech. It has high levels of free speech and is above average for safety and high-ranking institutions.

2. Melbourne

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In second place is the Australian city of Melbourne. Although not coming first in any of the categories, Melbourne scores consistently across the board. The city scores well for the level of free speech and safety as well as great food options and cheap tech.

3. Seoul

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The South Korean city of Seoul takes third place in the study. Seoul has the greatest number of high-ranking universities anywhere in the study. The city also offers reasonably cheap rent and above-average levels of free speech.

4. Quebec City

Autumn in Quebec with trees and buildings

Taking fourth place is the city of Quebec in Canada. Quebec scores well in most categories, notably for their great tolerance of free speech as well as the cheap cost of a MacBook and rent. The city also offers good levels of safety.

5. Adelaide

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In the fifth spot is the Australian city of Adelaide. With high levels of free speech and safety, it's a great place for students to live and excel. Not only this, but you should be able to pick up a laptop for a reasonable price and have plenty of options when it comes to food.

6. Montreal

Sky scrapers over Montreal

The Canadian city of Montreal takes sixth place in the study. The country has strong levels of free speech and safety. Add in affordable rent and a below-average cost of living and Montreal is a great place to be a student.

7. Perth

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In the seventh position is Perth, the third Australian city in the top 10. The city ranks well for not only free speech, safety, and the price of a MacBook but also food options and below-average rent.

8. Houston

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The US city of Houston comes in eighth place. The city offers a strong level of free speech along with cheap technology. It also scores above average in categories like the cost of living, rent, and internet speeds.

9. Brisbane

xxx The final Australian city making the top 10 is the city of Brisbane. The city scores above average in six of the nine categories including the cost of rent and living, food options, and free speech and safety.

10. Pittsburgh

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Taking the last place in the top 10 is the US city of Pittsburgh. Fast internet speeds and cheap MacBooks are a studying dream. Rent is less than average in the city and they score well for free speech.

The best cities to be a student in the world

Jump to: 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1

100 - 91

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
100 Tomsk Russia 3.35 £193.74 £374.70 863 18 0 0.0939 1 14 11.8306
99 Novosibirsk Russia 3.43 £230.63 £337.75 863 17 0.01 0.0939 2 14 11.8306
98 St. Petersburg Russia 3.56 £381.54 £387.45 863 21 0.08 0.0939 4 14 11.8306
97 Shanghai China(Mainland) 3.65 £981.67 £511.33 882 2 0.12 0.1178 8 3 8.0636
96 Rio de Janeiro Brazil 3.68 £261.22 £372.39 1,741 10 0.33 0.157 4 46 14.1011
95 Wuhan China(Mainland) 3.69 £305.94 £450.98 882 2 0.01 0.1178 4 3 8.0636
94 Nanjing China(Mainland) 3.71 £362.61 £420.53 882 2 0.02 0.1178 4 3 8.0636
93 Zurich Switzerland 3.75 £1,526.11 £1,212.51 814 32 0.26 0.105 2 91 7.3316
92 Dubai United Arab Emirates 3.76 £1,069.88 £669.16 796 14 0.33 0.1118 1 5 4.2043
91 Sao Paulo Brazil 3.85 £318.21 £384.21 1,741 14 0.44 0.157 5 46 14.1011

90-81

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
90 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates 3.92 £891.43 £600.72 796 9 0.26 0.1118 3 5 4.2043
89 Munich Germany 4.01 £1,115.58 £770.56 880 29 0.02 0.1035 2 90 7.7059
88 Prague Czech Republic 4.07 £591.50 £511.86 912 25 0.04 0.0896 3 86 10.8644
87 Athens Greece 4.08 £348.95 £534.59 1,008 12 0.02 0.1013 3 82 9.8026
86 Brno Czech Republic 4.12 £471.97 £479.69 912 24 0.01 0.0896 3 86 10.8644
85 Manila Philippines 4.12 £493.79 £423.23 815 8 0.01 0.1877 2 44 14.8899
84 Moscow Russia 4.16 £643.35 £431.57 863 17 0.1 0.0939 17 14 11.8306
83 Ankara Turkey 4.18 £159.16 £288.04 897 11 0.02 0.1612 5 6 11.8725
82 Budapest Hungary 4.2 £366.66 £443.89 921 41 0.02 0.1039 4 53 11.2723
81 Boston United States 4.2 £1,877.31 £857.86 794 32 0.52 0.1314 3 84 10.1875

80-71

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
80 Beijing China(Mainland) 4.22 £780.74 £455.59 882 2 0.09 0.1178 15 3 8.0636
79 Stockholm Sweden 4.24 £1,148.41 £787.73 943 38 0.27 0.1074 2 91 8.4163
78 Bangkok Thailand 4.25 £415.18 £446.14 694 22 0.09 0.1316 5 15 10.1649
77 Warsaw Poland 4.26 £610.42 £480.89 898 26 0.27 0.0978 3 65 10.1538
76 Almaty Kazakhstan 4.27 £257.78 £315.92 946 8 0.02 0.1181 8 18 8.2994
75 NewYork United States 4.27 £2,171.68 £977.41 794 37 0.62 0.1314 6 84 10.1875
74 Rome Italy 4.29 £825.14 £712.83 894 17 0.59 0.0962 3 87 10.7901
73 Graz Austria 4.3 £500.10 £778.69 872 28 0 0.1067 2 86 7.3454
72 Brighton United Kingdom 4.31 £974.17 £769.12 999 26 0.51 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
71 Mumbai India 4.32 £419.64 £291.96 900 10 0.1 0.1801 2 19 11.2968

70-61

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
70 Copenhagen Denmark 4.34 £1,178.93 £871.12 900 45 0.02 0.1231 1 93 6.2422
69 Milan Italy 4.34 £927.31 £724.97 894 19 0.56 0.0962 5 87 10.7901
68 Amsterdam Netherlands 4.35 £1,316.79 £798.65 883 23 0.53 0.1189 2 88 8.7304
67 San Francisco United States 4.35 £2,173.11 £894.41 794 72 0.53 0.1314 1 84 10.1875
66 Daejeon SouthKorea 4.37 £440.29 £751.12 732 33 0.02 0.111 2 67 7.5089
65 Gothenburg Sweden 4.39 £782.94 £742.63 943 32 0.26 0.1074 2 91 8.4163
64 Wroclaw Poland 4.4 £514.04 £433.31 898 37 0.26 0.0978 2 65 10.1538
63 Krakow Poland 4.42 £538.25 £435.26 898 34 0.26 0.0978 3 65 10.1538
62 Bristol United Kingdom 4.42 £918.18 £690.13 999 26 0.51 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
61 Istanbul Turkey 4.43 £229.32 £306.56 897 13 0.11 0.1612 8 6 11.8725

60-51

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
60 Nagoya Japan 4.44 £605.09 £830.28 750 27 0.38 0.0925 2 82 7.9247
59 Leicester United Kingdom 4.44 £566.34 £601.96 999 26 0.26 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
58 Vienna Austria 4.45 £752.02 £673.96 872 40 0.03 0.1067 2 86 7.3454
57 Stuttgart Germany 4.45 £802.33 £694.87 880 27 0.26 0.1035 2 90 7.7059
56 Helsinki Finland 4.46 £860.76 £728.31 890 33 0.01 0.1099 1 91 4.9782
55 Bangalore India 4.46 £162.52 £254.88 900 14 0.08 0.1801 1 19 11.2968
54 Manchester United Kingdom 4.47 £849.23 £686.17 999 26 0.52 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
53 Miami United States 4.48 £1,400.80 £778.26 794 34 0.54 0.1314 2 84 10.1875
52 HongKong SAR HongKong 4.49 £1,581.43 £789.77 713 74 0.6 0.0855 7 34 8.0636
51 Chennai India 4.52 £136.23 £253.00 900 10 0.05 0.1801 3 19 11.2968

50-41

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
50 Singapore Singapore 4.53 £1,464.00 £699.34 732 90 0.09 0.1133 3 25 4.6184
49 Coventry United Kingdom 4.54 £717.14 £651.98 999 26 0.5 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
48 Edinburgh United Kingdom 4.56 £808.33 £681.58 999 26 0.52 0.1143 3 82 9.0055
47 Kyoto Japan 4.58 £627.88 £804.89 750 29 0.35 9.25%% 4 82 7.9247
46 Berlin Germany 4.59 £810.65 £687.78 880 29 0.29 0.1035 3 90 7.7059
45 Paris France 4.6 £1,057.11 £824.02 876 32 0.63 0.1162 4 82 9.7914
44 Delhi India 4.6 £179.25 £266.62 900 11 0.09 0.1801 4 19 11.2968
43 Liverpool United Kingdom 4.6 £649.17 £642.70 999 26 0.51 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
42 Sheffield United Kingdom 4.61 £625.91 £624.25 999 24 0.51 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
41 Birmingham United Kingdom 4.62 £757.61 £642.83 999 26 0.52 0.1143 3 82 9.0055

40-31

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
40 Glasgow United Kingdom 4.63 £651.23 £618.21 999 26 0.51 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
39 Newcastle Upon Tyne United Kingdom 4.64 £627.78 £599.27 999 24 0.51 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
38 Aberdeen United Kingdom 4.64 £528.64 £639.95 999 24 0.5 0.1143 2 82 9.0055
37 Montpellier France 4.69 £541.53 £707.47 876 28 0.51 0.1162 2 82 9.7914
36 Auckland NewZealand 4.71 £964.17 £758.01 893 32 0.27 0.1301 2 88 6.4352
35 Lisbon Portugal 4.72 £738.99 £501.08 886 26 0.29 0.1045 3 89 8.2539
34 Los Angeles United States 4.72 £1,612.62 £767.35 794 59 0.58 0.1314 2 84 10.1875
33 Atlanta United States 4.73 £1,130.96 £753.22 794 36 0.53 0.1314 3 84 10.1875
32 Brussels Belgium 4.76 £724.37 £692.04 878 38 0.53 0.1121 2 90 9.9869
31 Washington DC United States 4.76 £1,673.27 £811.19 794 68 0.52 0.1314 3 84 10.1875

30-21

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
30 Dallas United States 4.77 £1,089.60 £668.51 794 42 0.53 0.1314 1 84 10.1875
29 Toulouse France 4.78 £529.90 £689.69 876 28 0.51 0.1162 3 82 9.7914
28 Chicago United States 4.78 £1,330.55 £745.37 794 41 0.56 0.1314 4 84 10.1875
27 Christchurch NewZealand 4.79 £737.23 £662.32 893 27 0.26 0.1301 1 88 6.4352
26 Valencia Spain 4.8 £600.72 £518.39 870 31 0.53 0.0961 2 87 9.2561
25 Lyon France 4.8 £596.38 £719.93 876 30 0.52 0.1162 4 82 9.7914
24 London United Kingdom 4.81 £1,662.25 £850.25 999 22 0.65 0.1143 15 82 9.0055
23 Madrid Spain 4.88 £751.80 £587.18 870 28 0.59 0.0961 5 87 9.2561
22 Ottawa Canada 4.89 £937.11 £698.28 860 24 0.52 0.1153 2 91 6.3129
21 Toronto Canada 4.9 £1,138.48 £713.07 860 26 0.56 0.1153 3 91 6.3129

20-11

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
20 Vancouver Canada 4.92 £1,170.81 £670.52 860 35 0.52 0.1153 2 91 6.3129
19 Barcelona Spain 4.92 £768.46 £604.41 870 36 0.57 0.0961 5 87 9.2561
18 Sydney Australia 4.93 £1,431.42 £768.44 749 25 0.79 0.1222 3 80 6.7699
17 Philadelphia United States 4.94 £1,220.75 £754.91 794 58 0.53 0.1314 3 84 10.1875
16 Baltimore United States 4.96 £1,116.96 £698.37 794 57 0.52 0.1314 2 84 10.1875
15 Canberra Australia 4.97 £1,044.49 £686.95 749 18 0.76 0.1222 1 80 6.7699
14 Gold Coast Australia 4.98 £947.37 £680.43 749 13 0.77 0.1222 1 80 6.7699
13 Dublin Ireland 5 £1,437.05 £771.05 863 59 0.52 0.1219 4 89 7.8351
12 San Diego United States 5.02 £1,574.03 £710.07 794 77 0.54 0.1314 3 84 10.1875
11 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 5.03 £327.98 £357.04 756 21 0.03 0.1709 3 42 8.0923

10-1

Rank City Country Total score Rent Cost of Living Macbook Internet speeds (Mbps) Food 15-24 year olds High ranking Unis Free Speech Safety
10 Pittsburgh United States 5.09 £954.73 £770.24 794 70 0.51 0.1314 2 84 10.1875
9 Brisbane Australia 5.09 £929.46 £722.65 749 20 0.78 0.1222 2 80 6.7699
8 Houston United States 5.1 £1,002.84 £598.18 794 53 0.56 0.1314 2 84 10.1875
7 Perth Australia 5.12 £805.83 £715.57 749 18 0.76 0.1222 2 80 6.7699
6 Montreal Canada 5.16 £737.69 £635.96 860 27 0.54 0.1153 3 91 6.3129
5 Adelaide Australia 5.16 £783.36 £671.21 749 17 0.76 0.1222 2 80 6.7699
4 Quebec Canada 5.18 £501.20 £610.96 860 24 0.51 0.1153 2 91 6.3129
3 Seoul SouthKorea 5.3 £647.97 £779.40 732 22 0.26 0.111 17 67 7.5089
2 Melbourne Australia 5.4 £925.10 £728.78 749 26 0.78 0.1222 6 80 6.7699
1 Tokyo Japan 5.52 £1,007.32 £844.33 750 31 1 0.0925 12 82 7.9247

Best student cities in Europe

These are the best student cities in Europe according to our study. The Irish city of Dublin takes the crown.

  1. Madrid - Spain
  2. Valencia - Spain
  3. Toulouse - France
  4. Lisbon - Portugal
  5. Montpellier - France

Best student city in Asia

According to our study, these are the best student cities in Asia. Japan takes three spots in the top 10 with Tokyo taking the pole position.

  1. Tokyo - Japan
  2. Seoul - South Korea
  3. Delhi - India
  4. Kyoto - Japan
  5. Singapore - Singapore
  6. Chennai - India
  7. Hong Kong SAR
  8. Bangalore - India
  9. Nagoya - Japan

Best student cities in the USA

The best student city in the USA is the city of Houston. The city ranks well in most categories and although it isn’t home to many of the world's top universities, it makes up for it in other ways.

  1. Houston
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Baltimore
  4. Philadelphia

Best student city in the UK

London takes the top spot as the best student city in the UK according to our study. Three Scottish cities also made the top 10.

  1. London
  2. Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  3. Manchester
Methodology

To create the list of 100 cities we looked at the QS Best student cities list. Only cities that had data available for all categories were used and if data was missing they were replaced with the next city on the list.

To calculate the index, we first normalized the data categories individually from 0 to 1 and then summed the results. For the food category, the normalized scores for food delivery and the number of restaurants were summed, then renormalized to get the final score.

Sources: