German edges out French in top five global student cities

Two German cities have overtaken French-speaking Montreal and Paris in the top five of the 2019 QS Best Student Cities Ranking. London has kept its slot as the most popular student city in the world. Europe is the dominant region, with more than 50 of 120 ranked cities.

The top five cities are, in order, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, Munich and Berlin. Montreal, Paris, Zurich, Sydney and Seoul follow to round up the top 10. The only difference from last year is that Munich and Berlin switch order with Montreal and Paris.


Europe’s 52 popular cities are spread across 23 countries, dominated by the United Kingdom with 14 cities. London is followed by Edinburgh (15) and Manchester (29).

There are two European countries that have four cities each in the list. France’s cities are led by Paris (7), Lyon (50) and Toulouse (74), while in Russia Moscow (34) leads St Petersburg (66) and Tomsk (73).

Germany has three cities with Munich and Berlin in fourth and fifth spot followed by Stuttgart (68); so does Spain with Barcelona (21) leading Madrid (27) and Valencia (74); while Poland boasts Warsaw (51) with Krakow (104) and Wroclaw (108) way down the list.

There are four European countries with two cities each on the list. Austria’s are Vienna (13) and Graz (79); the Czech Republic’s two are Prague (35) and Brno (60); Sweden has Stockholm (37) and Gothenburg (55); and in Italy Milan (40) pipped Rome (at a low 70).


Asia hosts 28 of the most popular student cities. The city states of Hong Kong (joint 10 with Seoul) and Singapore (20) obviously have one each, while China and India feature four cities each and Japan has three.

China’s top cities are Beijing (32), Shanghai (33), Nanjing (99) and Wuhan (105). India’s top city is Bangalore (81) followed by Mumbai (85), Delhi (113) and Chennai (115). Japan’s Tokyo retained its number two rank, followed by Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe (18) and Nagoya (95).

Asian countries with two top cities are South Korea led by Seoul (10), Taiwan with Taipei (17), United Arab Emirates headed by Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman (60), Turkey led by Istanbul (71), and Pakistan with Islamabad (111). Countries with one city each are Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Kazakhstan.

The Americas, Oceania and Africa

There are 19 American cities in the QS list headed by Boston (12), New York (19) and Los Angeles (25), and five Canadian cities led by Montreal (six), Toronto (11) and Vancouver (16).

Oceania has nine ranked cities, seven of them in Australia and two in New Zealand. Aside from Germany, Australia is the only country to get two cities in the top 10 – Melbourne at number three and Sydney at nine – both the same as in 2018. Brisbane comes in at 22 and Canberra at 23. New Zealand’s Auckland is ranked at 27 followed by Christchurch (65).

Latin America has eight cities on the list with Argentina’s Buenos Aires at 31, Mexico City (53) and Chile’s Santiago (54). Brazil’s Sao Paulo (76) and Rio de Janeiro (102) are in there along with Colombia’s Bogota (82), Monterrey in Mexico (91) and Lima in Peru (98).

Africa has only three cities among the 120, with Johannesburg (78) surprisingly just pipping tourist magnet Cape Town (80) and Cairo (107).


QS said that its list of the best cities for studying abroad was based on “a range of indicators including student mix, desirability, employer activity, affordability, student view, and how universities in each city performed in the QS World University Rankings.

“Our 2019 International Student Survey found that 81% of respondents looked for a city that was safe and welcoming for international students, 62% looked at the city’s cost of living, and 61% looked for a city that had universities with high quality teaching,” QS said in a press release.

“Additionally, 59% looked for a city where they could work while studying, highlighting the importance of allowing international students to work on student visas.”