The 6 Best Cities to Study

It’s not exactly shocking that perennial favorite Paris tops this list for the second year in a row: 17 of its universities are highly ranked by QS. While the cost of living here is undeniably high, tuition rates are surprisingly low, and students aren’t just paying for the education, but for the experience of living in a glamorous cultural epicenter featuring the best offerings for everyone from foodies to fashionistas. Throw in access to countless public libraries, museums, bookshops, theaters and music venues and Paris offers something for everyone. Students not only enjoy life as part of Paris’s thriving student community, but the benefits continue long after: the city’s grads are in great demand both in France and all over the globe. Read more about.

New Court in St John's College, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Despite claiming the top score for Rankings thanks to 18 big finishers, including 4th place University College of London (UCL), London falls short of the leading spot for the second year in the row. Employer Activity and Student Mix — demonstrating the U.K.’s commitment to welcoming international students — are both high performers but are balanced by less-than-ideal Affordability and Quality of Living issues. Regardless of the drawbacks, students continue to be drawn to London for its incomparable mix of culture, nightlife and academic opportunities. Overall, the U.K. makes a strong showing in the study, with Manchester and Edinburgh also placing in the top 50. Read more about studying in the UK here.

Speaking of strong showings, small but mighty Singapore catapulted a staggering nine places in 2013 to simultaneously break into both the top 10 and the top 5. Thanks to its rising Asian eminence and exceptional reputation, Singapore scored top marks in Employer Activity, with employers from all over the world clamoring for its graduates. Additionally, low crime and high wealth lead to high Quality of Living marks. When you factor in that Singapore barely meets the qualifications for inclusion in the QS rankings — having exactly two of the requisite two rankings-eligible institutions: the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University — its 3rd place finish is even more noteworthy. Read more about why is Asia the future of International Higher Education here.

Sydney leapfrogged two spots to overtake Melbourne and penetrate the top six this year. This picturesque city earned rave reviews in nearly every category, although high tuition costs detract from Affordability marks. The city is home to a whopping five top ranked universities, including the University of Sydney at 38th, and the University of New South Wales, which trails behind at 52nd. Sydney’s diverse student body enjoys easy access to the world-famous harbor and beaches. Factor in its global networks, including strong connections to Asia, multicultural heritage and friendly natives, and it’s no surprise that Sydney makes a strong showing. Read more about the programs in Australia here.

Narrowly bested by its neighbor to the north Sydney, Melbourne may well be Zurich’s equal yet opposite student city. Home to seven top-ranked institutions — with the University of Melbourne claiming the top position at 31 — Melbourne is not only immensely livable, but also celebrated as Australia’s “cultural capital,” thanks to an appealing mix of vibrant waterfront districts, verdant parks, art galleries and exceptional restaurants and nightlife all adding up to first-rate Quality of Living marks. Throw in gorgeous weather and an abundance of popular beaches, and Melbourne is not only a great place to study and live, but also to recreate. Read more about studying in Australia here.

Home to continental Europe’s top-ranked university, ETH Zurich, this bustling global city — appealing to millionaires and students alike — is Switzerland’s largest. Zurich is heralded for its incredible diversity, low crime, premiere infrastructure and unbelievable access to some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery — most of which is just a (punctual) train ride away. While Zurich’s cost of living is notoriously high, tuition fees are not: in fact, compared to comparable institutions in the U.S. and the U.K., studying here is a relative bargain. Read more about studying in Switzerland here.