Best University Cities for International Students in 2024

Written by Michael Nz. on June 11, 2023

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Have you ever wondered which cities around the globe offer the best experience for international students? If you have, then you’re in luck! This article is here to guide you through the top university cities that have become a crucial factors for prospective students when deciding where to apply.

For over a decade, we have been at the forefront of publishing the most authoritative global college league tables. Our ranking data has undergone meticulous analysis by academics from the esteemed University of Toronto Martin Prosperity Institute. Their goal was to uncover if there are specific cities where the best universities tend to congregate.

The fascinating findings of this study, which were recently published on The Atlantic CityLab website, include both expected and unexpected results. While most people might immediately think of cities like London and New York when considering the best student cities worldwide, a few surprising contenders deserve recognition. Have you ever considered Atlanta or Seoul?

If these cities didn’t make it onto your list of “best cities for students,” it might be time to reconsider. Astonishingly, they boast some of the highest concentrations of top-tier universities in the entire world. So, if your idea of an ideal student city involves being surrounded by thousands of other brilliant college and graduate students, then get ready to broaden your horizons.

To conduct their analysis, the experts at the Martin Prosperity Institute first examined the top 100 universities globally, as identified by the EL World University Rankings. The uncovered results are truly eye-opening and will reshape your perception of the ultimate university cities.

Buckle up, and let’s embark on an adventure to discover the most extraordinary university cities for international students

Unveiling the Academic Hotspots: Where the Elite Universities Call Home

RangeMetropolitan areaUniversities (world rank)No. of Top schools
1=The AngelsCalifornia Institute of Technology (2), University of California, Los Angeles (14), University of Southern California (60), University of California, Irvine (98)4
1=LondonImperial College London (8), University College London (15), London School of Economics and Political Science (25), King’s College London (36)4
3=香港University of Hong Kong (43), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (49), Chinese University of Hong Kong (76)3
3=Boston-CambridgeMassachusetts Institute of Technology (5), Harvard University (6), Boston University (64)3
3=berlinHumboldt University (57), Free University of Berlin (75), Technical University of Berlin (82)3
4=BeijingPeking University (29) and Tsinghua University (35)2
4=NYColumbia University (16) and NYU (32)2
4=ChicagoUniversity of Chicago (10) and Northwestern University (20)2
4=SingaporeNational University of Singapore (24) and Nanyang Technological University (54)2
4=AtlantaGeorgia Institute of Technology (33) and Emory University (82)2
4=sydneyUniversity of Sydney (60) and University of New South Wales (78)2
4=MelbourneMelbourne University (33) and Monash University (74)2
4=PittsburghCarnegie Mellon University (23) and University of Pittsburgh (80)2
4=StockholmKarolinska Institutet (28) and Uppsala University (93)2
4=MunichLMU Munich (30) and the Technical University of Munich (46)2
4=FeudalRWTH Aachen University (78) and Maastricht University (94)2
4=HagueDelft University of Technology (59) and Leiden University (77)2
4=Durham–Chapel HillDuke University (18) and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (56)2
4=UtrechtWageningen University and Research (65) and Utrecht University (86)2


Expect the Unexpected: Discovering the Hidden Gems among University Cities

When it comes to the best cities for students and universities, some names naturally come to mind, like London, Los Angeles, Boston, and Berlin. However, let’s shake things up a bit. Have you ever considered the possibilities that lie within Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Stockholm, or Beijing?

Prepare to be amazed as we introduce you to some remarkable university cities that may have slipped under your radar. Take a moment to ponder the academic treasures found in Utrecht or Liège. These cities also house exceptional universities that deserve recognition. On the other hand, you may notice the absence of certain prominent names. Where, for instance, is Paris?

It’s worth noting that, in some cases, cities have been combined to form metropolitan areas under one city name. Let us shed light on the methodology the Institute’s brilliant data scientists employ.

Researchers compared universities in the United States locations to the city limits defined by the US Census Bureau. As for universities outside the US, their comparisons were based on metropolitan areas using the UN world cities borders, encompassing all places with a population exceeding 300,000.

In situations where universities didn’t align with any UN Boundaries of World Cities, the researchers turned to the global metropolitan boundaries defined by the Brookings Institute. This meticulous classification ensured that no exceptional university city went unnoticed.

For example, cities like Aachen and Maastricht were grouped within the Liège metropolitan area, as defined by the Brookings Institute. Although smaller in size, they contribute significantly to the academic landscape and proximity to Liège, making them a valuable addition.

Now that you’re acquainted with the neat methodology behind this analysis, you might still be pondering which city is truly the best for your educational journey. Fret not, for the researchers didn’t limit their investigation to just the top 100 institutions. The table below presents a comprehensive list of cities hosting the top 500 universities, as determined by our rankings.

Prepare to embark on an exciting exploration as we unveil the unexpected and guide you through the world’s finest university cities beyond the confines of the usual suspects.

Best College Towns: Where the Top Universities Are Located

RangemetersNo. of the top schools
3Sydney, Chicago, Stockholm; Tokyo, Washington D.C.8
4Melbourne, New York, Cambridge7
6Sydney, Chicago, Stockholm; Tokyo Washington D.C.5
7Liege, Dublin, Copenhagen, Brussels, Barcelona, ​​Philadelphia, Milan, Moscow, Los Angeles4


Paris Takes the Stage: A Remarkable Rise in the University Rankings!

Ah, behold, Paris! The magnificent French capital springs into action, securing the second spot when we broaden our scope to encompass the top 500 institutions. It’s no surprise that Paris stands as a stellar college town—it has truly earned its reputation!

However, London still reigns supreme, hosting an impressive count of 15 universities within its city limits, cementing its status as an educational powerhouse. But let’s not forget the exciting opportunities that await students in South Korea, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Russia. These countries boast numerous universities that proudly claim their positions in the top 500 rankings.

Upon closer inspection, it seems that the two tables we’ve explored in this article haven’t yielded any groundbreaking revelations. Most of the cities are renowned as the best college towns aligned with bustling global metropolises. It’s no secret that dense populations often coincide with exceptional universities. After all, the talented individuals within these institutions shape them into remarkable academic havens.

Yet, what if we take a different perspective and examine our top college towns based on the number of outstanding colleges per capita? Well, dear readers, the researchers have delved into this intriguing analysis, which brings splendid news for Sweden!

Unveiling the Elite: Best University Cities with Remarkable Universities Per Capita

RangeMeterNumber of Top 500 universitiesBest universities per million people
7Washington D.C.50.853

Stockholm Triumphs: The Unrivaled Best University City with an Impressive Ratio!

Brace yourself, for Stockholm has emerged as the undisputed champion when considering the number of universities per capita! With a staggering ratio of 3.4 universities per 1 million people, it confidently surpasses its closest contender, Melbourne, which boasts a respectable ratio of 1.7.

While heavyweight contenders like London, Sydney, Paris, New York, and Tokyo maintain their positions on the list, this chart holds special appeal for those seeking exceptional college cities with smaller populations. It unveils an array of great options that perfectly balance academic excellence with a more intimate setting.

Discover the Budget-Friendly Cities for Students: A Compilation of the Most Affordable Cities Students Can Live in

Unlock Your Study Abroad Dreams: Discover the World’s Most Affordable Cities for International Students

Embarking on a journey to study abroad is an exhilarating prospect. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to consider the cost of living in your chosen city. Fear not, for we are here to guide you towards the most budget-friendly residential cities in 2024, ensuring you make the most of your study abroad experience without financial strain.

Dreaming of studying abroad? The notion that it will inevitably drain your bank account or leave you financially depleted is nothing more than a myth. In fact, there exists a multitude of cities across the globe where you can pursue your studies while enjoying lower tuition fees and a more affordable cost of living compared to your home country.

It’s time to dispel the notion that studying abroad requires a hefty price tag. Every prospective international student should abandon this misconception and embrace the reality that there are cities worldwide where your expenses will be pleasantly modest. Get ready to embark on an adventure where affordability meets academic excellence.

Which Cities Are The Best to Study Abroad in 2024?

Here are the most affordable cities in the world for students to study abroad:

  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Warsaw
  • CDMX
  • Tomsk
  • Vancouver
  • Berlin
  • Taipei

#1. Kuala Lumpur

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Unveiling Kuala Lumpur: The Ultimate Affordable Haven for Student Living

Step into a world where affordability meets opportunity as Kuala Lumpur, the vibrant Malaysian capital, solidifies its position as one of the most budget-friendly residential cities for students worldwide.

Imagine tuition fees at internationally renowned universities averaging under US$3,000. Pair that with a remarkably low cost of living, which could amount to as little as US$5,400 per year, tailored to your unique lifestyle as an individual.

But that’s not all. Kuala Lumpur even opens doors to work opportunities while you pursue your studies, paving the way for a financially optimistic journey.

With these incredible factors at your disposal, it’s time to seize the day and make the most of your academic pursuits. Kuala Lumpur beckons, ready to offer you the best possible environment for growth and success.

#2 Warsaw

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Unveiling the Magic of Poland’s Capital: Discover Warsaw, an Affordable Student Haven

Step into a city where history, culinary delights, and vibrant nightlife intertwine to create an unforgettable experience. Warsaw, the captivating capital of Poland, is renowned for its cultural marvels and stands proud as one of the world’s most affordable residential cities for students.

Picture this: with an average international tuition of just US$3,400, and the cost of living amounting to a mere US$5,700 per year, you can embrace the wonders of this city without worrying about breaking the bank.

In Warsaw, you won’t leave empty-handed; instead, you’ll return home enriched by the fascinating history and vibrant culture surrounding you. Prepare to broaden your horizons and discover a new perspective on life in this captivating city. Warsaw awaits, ready to ignite your passions and leave an indelible mark on your academic journey.

#3 Mexico City

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Unleashing the Unbeatable: Mexico City, Where Affordability and Excellence Converge

If there’s a city that deserves a spot on the list, I can’t help but wonder which one it could be. Brace yourself for the impressive revelation that Mexico City secures the 51st position overall in this year’s coveted Best and Cheapest Residential Cities Index.

Get ready to be captivated by the allure of this remarkable city, where the average tuition fees at internationally renowned universities hover around a modest US$5,800 per year. But that’s just the beginning! The total cost of living in Mexico City is delightfully lower compared to its neighbors in the United States, offering you a chance to experience an incredible journey without breaking the bank.

Mexico City is where affordability intertwines with excellence, inviting you to immerse yourself in a world of opportunities. Prepare to be astounded by the cultural riches, warm hospitality, and vibrant energy that await you. Don’t miss your chance to embrace this extraordinary destination that perfectly balances your academic pursuits and financial considerations. Mexico City is calling, eager to welcome you with open arms.

#4 Tomsk

Tomsk: Unveiling the Affordable Gem of 2020 for Students

Amidst the sea of study destinations, one city shines as a beacon of affordability in the year 2020. Welcome to Tomsk, where a blend of a unique student-friendly atmosphere, rich historical heritage, and remarkable artifacts set it apart. However, what truly sets this city apart is its esteemed universities’ enticingly low tuition fees.

According to Numbeo, the cost of rent in Tomsk is a staggering 64% lower compared to the bustling metropolis of Moscow. This significant difference allows students to enjoy a more budget-friendly lifestyle without compromising on quality.

Furthermore, the average annual tuition fee at Tomsk’s internationally ranked universities stands at a reasonable US$2,400. This accessible cost ensures that pursuing your academic aspirations doesn’t burden your financial well-being.

Tomsk beckons you with open arms, promising an enchanting environment where affordability meets academic excellence. Discover a city that embraces its rich history and captivates you with its cultural treasures. Join the ranks of students who have chosen this remarkable destination as their gateway to a bright future.

#5 Vancouver

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Welcome to the enchanting city that holds the crown for being the most breathtaking region in the world to pursue your studies! Brace yourself for an incredible journey in a place where beauty knows no bounds. Not only will you be captivated by its awe-inspiring landscapes, but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the affordability it offers. With tuition fees starting as low as US$5000 per year, this city ensures that your pockets remain happy while you chase your dreams.

But wait, there’s more! Universities in this vibrant city have garnered international acclaim and recognition. These esteemed institutions are renowned for their exceptional educational standards and groundbreaking research. This is the place to be when it comes to gaining a solid education and honing your investigative skills.

So, what’s the secret behind this remarkable city? It’s none other than Vancouver! Its name alone exudes a sense of prestige and allure. Vancouver effortlessly captures the hearts and minds of students from around the globe, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow academically and personally.

In a world where possibilities are endless, Vancouver shines as a beacon of educational excellence. Prepare to embark on a remarkable journey where your dreams can take flight, supported by a city that gives it all. Welcome to the extraordinary world of Vancouver, where your ambitions come alive!

#6 Berlin

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Are you seeking a study abroad destination that embodies a traditional charm? Are you open to exploring neighboring cities by taking advantage of discounted transportation options like flights, trains, or buses? If so, Berlin, Germany, is the perfect choice for you. Not only does it offer a rich cultural experience, but it also stands out as one of the most budget-friendly cities in the world for student living.

EU students can breathe a sigh of relief as they are exempt from tuition fees. However, non-EU students may have to bear this expense. The good news is that non-EU students’ tuition fees are minimal, making them highly affordable.

So, if you’re looking for a place that combines tradition, affordability, and accessibility to explore neighboring cities, Berlin should be at the top of your list. Immerse yourself in this vibrant city and embark on a fulfilling educational journey while keeping your expenses in check. Berlin eagerly awaits your arrival!

#7 Taipei

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Calling all adventure seekers and fun enthusiasts! Look no further than Taipei, the captivating capital of Taiwan, for an unforgettable study experience.

Worried about the cost of living? Fear not, as Taipei won’t break the bank. From affordable accommodations to pocket-friendly dining options, this vibrant city ensures that your finances stay in check. And let’s not forget about the tuition fees! They won’t drain your wallet, either. Taipei offers incredible value for your educational investment, making it an ideal destination for students.

But Taipei is more than just a budget-friendly haven. It’s a place where your academic pursuits seamlessly blend with thrilling adventures. Whether you’re exploring its vibrant night markets, immersing yourself in the local culture, or venturing beyond the city to discover Taiwan’s breathtaking landscapes, Taipei has it all. You can study, have a blast, and expand your horizons in this dynamic metropolis.

Get ready for an exhilarating journey filled with learning, excitement, and exploration. Taipei eagerly awaits your arrival, ready to offer you an incredible study experience that goes far beyond your expectations. Let the adventure begin!


Unlock an Unforgettable Educational Journey in the Finest College Towns!

If your goal is to receive a top-notch education while immersing yourself in an environment brimming with brilliant minds, then directing your applications toward schools nestled in the best college towns remains your most promising path. By doing so, you open yourself up to an incredible educational experience where you can forge connections and engage with some of the brightest minds in academia.

I hope this article has proven valuable in guiding you toward selecting the ideal city for your academic pursuits. May your educational journey be filled with success, inspiration, and unforgettable experiences. Best of luck in all your endeavors!

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