Discover Studying Abroad

Find out which city is perfect for you to study abroad

Whether itís lolling about on Bondi beach in Sydney or chatting with your friends in a tea house in Seoul, this list of student cities will help you find your future academic home.
BY Anandamayee Singh |   20-03-2019

BrainGain Magazine

Finding the right college for you takes a lot more than simply looking at the name or the academic ranking. You can get into an ivy league, but be deeply unhappy, or study abroad in a well known city, and find that it is not the right fit for you. Luckily, the braingain team has composed a list of cities and corresponding universities that will make for the most meaningful and satisfying student and post student life for you.

The list of  cities is based on the 2018 QS student satisfaction survey, which takes into account student mix, desirability, employer activity, affordability and student view/experience. Essentially, these factors measure how tolerant, inclusive and interesting the city is for international students.

The data for meaningful courses and careers was drawn from the 2018-19 survey conducted by  payscale to assess the most meaningful majors and subsequent careers. For 2018-19 the top ten answers centered mostly on education and social work. They were: secondary & middle school mathematics teacher education, elementary special education, political science/public law, early childhood education, nonprofit management, early childhood & elementary education, special education, middle school education, molecular biology, and marine engineering. 

Note: We are not ranking the cities in successive order of desirability, rather listing them for you to choose the right fit for you!

Seoul, South Korea: for the student dedicated to service and education, who likes a mix of old and new. 

This burgeoning capital city offers great diversity in activities and its student population. It scores well in all ranking indicators, and thanks to its now relaxed visa restrictions, is fourth in employability. The Korean government also offers scholarship options to international students to study at Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University, Hanyang University and several others in both graduate and undergraduate programs.

Seoul is a great mix of the old and the new. Palaces and heritage villages dot the city and its surroundings, while the hottest new stores and dining spots are cropping up in the city center. Seoul is also a city that never sleeps, with night markets and tea houses open at all hours, perfect for you and your friends to make priceless memories. There are several good spas and hiking trails in the South Korean capital, when the stress of the city and college life starts getting to you.

Times Higher Education (THE) ranks the education college at Seoul National University (SNU) 63rd in the world. The university is committed to fostering students who are dedicated to intellectual, personal and social growth. Another option to consider is Korea University, which is one of the oldest and largest universities in the country. Its education college sits at an impressive global 66nd in THE rankings, and is considered one of the leaders in developing international education programs. 

Sydney, Australia: for the student who wants to be part of great social and economic innovations in the morning, and bum at the beach in the evening.

With mild winters, beautiful beaches and over 35,000 international students, the Australian capital is a great option for studying abroad.The Sydney harbor, iconic beaches and the opera house make for the perfect mix of city culture and beach life.  It is no surprise that this city is ranked as one of the 10 most livable cities in the world by Mercer and the Economist.

While the cost of living and tuition at universities are high, international students are allowed 20 hours of work with their student visa during the academic term, and are often encouraged by universities to do so along with studying. The government and several industries also offer scholarships for international students at several colleges, including the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales. Post graduation, international students have quite a few visa options to continue working

THE ranks the school of education and social work at the University of Sydney 33rd in the world, and their law school 32nd. Their undergraduate experience touts a process of unlearning established hierarchies and social norms to work towards a more equitable world. Another good option is to study at the University of New South Wales, with a law program that THE ranks 23rd and a school of education that is 57th in the world.

Zurich: for the student who wants to experience city life with the vibe of a picturesque suburb, and country hop in Western Europe.

Surrounded by a deep blue lake and beautiful alpine mountains, Zurich is every bit the picturesque dream that an opportunity to study in Switzerland promises. The business capital may not be as cosmopolitan as Geneva, but Zurich has a great mix of international students, and is up to Switzerland’s exacting standards when it comes to safety and cleanliness.

Zurich fares quite poorly in affordability as the most expensive European city as of March 2019. However,  low tuition fees for universities helps balance out expenses. Students in Switzerland are also allowed to work for 15 hours a week to help subsidize their education. While this is one of the shorter working periods allowed, Switzerland does offer scholarships to applicants from a 180 different countries, particularly to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich).

ETH Zurich is one of the most prestigious universities in science and technology, celebrating freedom, entrepreneurial spirit and open-mindedness. THE ranks it 20th in social sciences and 14th in life sciences, great for those interested in pursuing microbiology or political science.  Another option is the University of Zurich (UZH). It is the largest university in Switzerland, and owns twelve museums and various libraries that are open  to the public with open access to public. UZH is ranked 84th in law92nd in education, and 62nd in social sciences by THE.

Berlin: for the student who lives for the alternative art scene, and needs a pocket friendly experience

Whether it’s the hottest underground artists or the coolest new bars and fashions, the alternative scene in Germany’s capital city beats New York and London any day. Berlin  is also one of the financial hubs in Europe, rife with employment opportunities. Making a home in this is relatively easy too, as Germany has rather relaxed visa regulations. Non-EU international students can work for a 120 full working days a year, and stay on for 18 months after graduation to find employment.

Berlin is one of the cheaper cities to study in Europe relative to major cities in the U.K. and Switzerland.Undergraduate degrees and most postgraduate degrees are free in Berlin, even for international students.

Humboldt University of Berlin is a great option for people interested in pursuing careers in social sciences and education. Established in 1819, it is one of the oldest universities on this list, and is credited with developing a model of tying research and teaching together in higher education. Another good option is the Free University of Berlin, which served as a haven for academics post the turmoil of the second world war. Like Humboldt University of Berlin, the Free University is dedicated to research, and ranks 49th in social sciences and 67th in education. 

Munich: for the student who wants to plunge into a new culture, and loves beer

Lying north of the Alpine mountains, Munich offers a great flavour of Bavarian culture, employment opportunities and scenic beauty. The city touts the infamous Oktoberfest, has great nightlife and is extremely accessible via public transport. Like Berlin, universities in Munich are free for international and national students alike. While it is a little more expensive than Berlin, Munich is still relatively cheaper than other cities in Europe.

The Technical University of Munich specialises in natural sciences and has housed several inventors, including Rudolf Diesel. THE ranks their life sciences program 56th in world, making it a good option for those interested in courses like molecular biology.

Paris: for the student who enjoys being a bit of an intellectual snob, gives weight to history and can’t resist a good brie

La cite de l’amour-- how can you not fall head over heels? Paris has enjoyed prominence as the city of haute culture, couture and cuisine for several centuries, and for good reason. With quaint bookstores, cafes, and delectable croissants on every corner, Paris has plenty to pleasantly surprise. It isn’t shy of a good time either, with several iconic nightclubs, bars and restaurants scattered all across the city.

While enjoying Paris in all its glory makes it one of the more expensive European cities to live in, low tuition fees help balance out costs. There are also several scholarship opportunities for non-EU international students, particularly those from African regions at universities like Ecole Normale Superieure and Sciences Po. France also has a generous work hour limit for international students, allowing them to work 964 hours a year. International students are also allowed to apply for a post study work permits. The length of stay with these permits depends on the kind of work and the salary provided.

For students interested in the social sciences, Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS)  is a good option, as its social sciences program is ranked 57th in the world by THE. ENS is also in the heart of the city, providing a vibrant backdrop for college life. Alternatively, the prestigious Sciences Po offers a multilingual and multidisciplinary education, with a commendable 68th position in THE rankings for social science.

Montreal: for the student who thrives in multilingual cultures, likes to chill out and is partial to poutine

Celebrated as the multilingual cultural capital of Canada, Montreal is the epicentre for Canada’s diversity and tolerance. Whether it is at an ice hockey game, over a plate of mouth-watering poutine or at a local art event, Montreal will astound you with its friendliness and openness. It is also a great place to pick up French, explore eclectic music and art and delve into creative industries.

While tuition costs are relatively low in comparison to the rest of North America, rent is the fourth highest in Canada. Still, on the whole, living in Montreal is more affordablethan most cities in Europe and North America. It also helps that most major universities like McGill offer scholarships to international students. International students can also workon and off campus with a valid study program, and can apply for a 180 day long post graduation work permit.

For budding lawyers, the renowned Mcgill University is a great option, as THE ranks its law department 14th in the world. Its education department is also at a commendable 53rd, a great option for future educators. 

Melbourne: for the student who enjoys a good mix of festivals, water sports, and nightlife

With sunny days, beautiful beaches and an enviable nightlife scene, Melbourne epitomizes the Australian lifestyle. The city also hosts a variety of multicultural celebrations, and has several festivals showcasing its diverse arts, music, comedy, film and fashion scenes. Like Sydney, Melbourne is expensive, but offers reasonable work opportunities and scholarships for international students.

Melbourne houses the number one university in Australia, the University of Melbourne. It is one of the leading research and higher education institutions in the world, with a law department that sits proudly at 10th place in THE rankings. This university is also a good option for those interested in education, as the education department is ranked 24th in the world by THE. Monash University is a good alternative for those who want to solve the world’s biggest crises, be it public policy or resource allocation. Their education department is 57th in THE rankings, while their law department sits at 79th.

Tokyo: for the student who thrives in big cities and is partial to novelty restaurants and shops

Every corner of Tokyo is beating with life at every single point of the day. Not only is the Japanese capital one of the world’s three leading financial centers, it is also home to avant garde cultural movements, novelty restaurants and shops. Whether it is the food or the fashion, studying in Tokyo will offer an intense immersion in the city’s culture, forcing you to step out of the student bubble.

While Tokyo is a relatively expensive city to live in, international students have the option to work upto 28 hours a week with a work permit, and are allowed to stay for a year after graduation to find employment opportunities.

THE ranks the University of Tokyo 44th in social sciences and 50th in education, and is a great option for those interested in careers of diplomacy, politics and education. Notable alums include fifteen Japanese Prime Ministers and eight Nobel Prize winners.

London: for the student who loves learning outside the classroom, and enjoys the bustle of a city that has that is half business and half party.

Even on the greyest, windiest of London days, you will feel the weight of this iconic city as you walk across the Thames to get to your classes. Even if the Thames is mostly grimy water. London has and continues to be home to some of the most brilliant artists, scientists, academics and public figures. Whether it is the pubs, the nightclubs, the theater or the internationally renowned universities, there is a place for everyone in London.

While rich in diversity and culture, living in London can cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney. International students can work for 20 hours a week to help finance their education, and have the option to apply for full and partial scholarships at one of the many renowned universities in the city.

London is an epicentre for higher education, with several museums and programs subsidized by the various universities spread across the city. A good option for someone interested in education, law or social sciences is University College London (UCL). UCL has been a pioneer in higher education, as the first university to admit women on the same terms as men in the U.K. It has also been home to several excellent scientific and artistic minds including William Ramsay. Not to mention, if you study to UCL, you might end up living in the same room that saw the birth of the band Coldplay.

If you liked this, check out:
Make the most out of relationships studies and finances at university,
How international students can get a nursing degree to tap into lucrative gigs in the US,
Find out the best university by subject- 2018 QS world university rankings



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