Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe are the top five cities in Asia for students, according to QS Best Student Cities Index 2017.
The annual rankings showcase the best urban destinations for international students, based on five diverse, but equally weighted indicators: university rankings, affordability, student mix, desirability, and employer activity. This year, a sixth indicator, i.e. “student view”, featuring student opinions of the cities, was introduced into the index methodology.
Montreal emerged top of the index this year, beating the long-standing favourite city for students for the past four years, Paris. Cities in Europe and North America, the traditional favourites for student destination countries, continued their domination in the rankings.
But Asian countries are fast asserting their place in the rankings, with five Asian metropolises in the top 20: Seoul (no. 4), Tokyo (no. 7), Hong Kong (no. 11), Singapore (no. 14), and Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe (no. 17).
Meanwhile, the highest-ranking cities representing the two Asian giants, China and India, were Shanghai at no. 25 and Mumbai at no. 85 respectively.
Top-brass universities come at a price
Seoul jumped six places and ranks fourth globally this year, beating Tokyo, which was the top Asian country in the rankings last year.
The country’s emergence as the top study destination in Asia is due to its superb placement in the Employer Activity and University Rankings assessments, where it ranks second and third respectively.
According to QS, Seoul universities enjoy a strong reputation among both domestic and international employers and feature numerously in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, through no fewer than 18 universities. Seoul National University is ranked 35th in the world in the said rankings.
Similarly, the other four Asian cities scored high in the Employer Activity category by placing within the top 20 cities globally in this aspect, and in the University Rankings category, averaging nearly ten universities in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017 per city.
Yet, with these attractive points come the high costs for students who study in these cities. These top five Asian cities scored less favourably in the Affordability category, with Hong Kong being the most affordable among the five at no. 55 and Singapore as the least affordable at no. 90 globally.
Referring to financial hub of Hong Kong, the QS report commented that in terms of affordability, the picture is somewhat complex.
“With space at a premium, rent is known for being exorbitantly expensive in Hong Kong, but general living expenses such as eating out and transport remain low,” the QS report said. “International tuition fees are somewhere in the mid-range – much lower than studying in the U.S., for example, but higher than those charged in Western European countries such as France or Germany.”
Whereas for Singapore, the QS report stated, “Singapore is ranked the 4th most expensive out of 209 cities in Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living Survey, and tuition fees have also increased in recent years, particularly for international students.”