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2018 Best Student Cities: Melbourne and Sydney in world’s top 10

Australia’s iconic cities Melbourne and Sydney moved up the ladder of rankings for the world’s best students cities in the QS 2018 report yet again.
At least 125 cities qualified in the 2018 survey which stipulated that each city must have a population of over 250,000 and have at least two universities featured in the QS World University Rankings.
Melbourne moved up two places from 5th to 3rd this year, after London and Tokyo. Sydney, on the other hand, moved up four rungs higher, from 13th last year to 9th this year.

Melbourne at #3

Popularly known as Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne has been an attractive destination for international students because of its liveability, multicultural diversity, and vibrant and welcoming vibe.
International students can always find something to do outside of their studies and learn a lot from exploring the city and surrounding suburbs, sampling its diverse cuisine and soaking in the beauty of their natural surroundings.
They can easily feel at home in a city that’s constantly buzzing with activity in its cafes, nightlife, art galleries and fashion exhibitions, concerts, stage productions and similar cultural performances and festivals celebrating different nationalities and interests. They can also optimise their stay by building their network of friends and acquaintances for future employment opportunities.
Melbourne ranked highest in having the most diverse student mix, 3rd in student view which highlighted the overall student experience, 8th in desirability and 10th in employer activity. Economic opportunities are plentiful for international students who would like to get part time work while pursuing their studies.

Sydney at #9

Sydney is not just Australia’s financial and economic hub but it is also home to world-famous sights and landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. It has become an attractive destination for students and their parents for many reasons, and scored 2nd to Melbourne in student mix, 4th in desirability and 13th in employer activity. Significantly, Sydney climbed 24 places higher in student view and is now ranked at #14.
International students find the city desirable because of its quality of life and varied choices for leisure and relaxation such as museums, concerts and shows at iconic venues, pristine beaches, local wildlife and parks, and walking and biking trails.
Sydney scored high for being a city that’s safe and clean with lots of greeneries and parks as well as rich in opportunities for future employment and a good standard of living. It is also ranked as one of the 10 most liveable cities on the planet by Mercer and The Economist.

Basis for Ranking

All the cities that qualified in the survey were ranked based on the following categories: (1) university rankings, (2) student mix, (3) desirability, (4) employer activity, (5) affordability and (6) student view.

University Rankings

Rated based on the collective performance of the city’s universities in the QS World University Rankings, achieving high performance standards, and being home to a good number of the world’s elite educational institutions.

Student Mix

Ranked cities based on the overall makeup of the student population including the ratio of international students to local students, cultural diversity and inclusivity. Cities with a tolerant attitude from the locals mattered to students and their parents who wish to preserve their lifestyle, cultural background and national identity.


Ranked based on the overall desirability of a city including a safe environment, transparent governance, and liveability in a clean and pollution-free neighborhood. It also includes the students’ perceptions of the ideal destination for acquiring a global degree.

Employer Activity

Ranked based on domestic and international employer popularity in cities that are most highly sought-after as recruiting grounds for new employees. A bonus is also applied on countries with youth employment opportunities based on figures provided by the World Bank.


Ranked cities based on the cost of living and affordability of tuition fees and other incidental expenses which are important factors when students and their parents are considering an international education.

Student View

Ranked cities based on the students’ experience in areas such as tolerance and inclusion, diversity, friendliness, ease of getting around, affordability, night life, employment opportunities, arts and culture. It also ranked cities based on the proportion of international students who either stayed after graduation or said they would love to stay and get employment.

Top 10 Cities

The following is a complete list of cities in the world’s top 10:

  1. London, United Kingdom

  2. Tokyo, Japan

  3. Melbourne, Australia

  4. Montreal, Canada

  5. Paris, France

  6. Munich, Germany

  7. Berlin, Germany

  8. Zurich, Switzerland

  9. Sydney, Australia

  10. Seoul, Korea