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Best Places to Study Abroad in Europe

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When deciding where to study abroad in Europe, choosing the city you’ll study in can often be as important as choosing a university. After all, what’s the point of studying somewhere if you can’t have any fun in your spare time, or find the culture too alienating?

Here’s a run-down from 10-1 of the 10 best places to study abroad in Europe, according to the QS Best Student Cities 2018 ranking. In each case, we’ve also highlighted the indicators in the ranking which the city has performed the best for this year.

Moscow

Our countdown of the best places to study abroad in Europe begins in Russia with the country’s capital, Moscow. Ranked 28th this year, Moscow has a whopping nine universities to choose from, including Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Scores best for: Employer Activity, for which it’s ranked joint 11th (tied with Milan).

Amsterdam

A popular holiday and bachelor party destination, Amsterdam has much more to offer than freely available marijuana and the titillations of the red light district. This is also a city brimming with culture, where you can take in works by famous Dutch artists and absorb the harrowing life story of Anne Frank, or just enjoy a peaceful drink at one of the city’s many canal-side cafes.

Ranked 27th in the world in this year’s cities ranking, Amsterdam is home to two internationally-ranked universities: the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA).

Scores best for: Desirability, ranking joint third with Sydney.

Manchester

The first of three UK cities to be featured in this list of the best places to study abroad in Europe, Manchester is widely known for its music scene, prestigious football clubs and historical role in the Industrial Revolution. Three prominent universities offer students interested in living among the Mancunians plenty of options, with the University of Manchester the most highly-regarded. The city itself is ranked 24th this year.

Scores best for: Student Mix (i.e. the diversity of students). It ranks joint 12th with Adelaide.

Edinburgh

Our next top European city sees us move north from Manchester across the border into Scotland and to Edinburgh, home of the Fringe Festival and the Military Tattoo, two of the biggest summer events in the UK. Edinburgh is ranked as the 16th best city for students this year, with three leading universities all based here. If you come to study here, prepare to spend your days off exploring the historic castle, climbing Arthur’s Seat or getting acquainted with the city’s many bars and pubs.

Scores best for: Student View, which is based on the results of our student survey. It’s ranked joint 12th alongside London.

Vienna

Proving there’s more to the Austrian capital than an , Vienna is the 11th best city in the world for students this year, narrowly missing out on a coveted place in the top 10. Fittingly for a city which saw some of the earliest performances of the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, Vienna is one of the classiest cities you could study in, with gorgeous buildings on nearly every street. Two internationally-ranked universities are based here: University of Vienna and Vienna University of Technology.

Scores best for: Student View. Five different cities share fifth place in this indicator and Vienna’s one of them. The others are Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Brno.

Zurich

Switzerland has long been considered a land of luxury; whether it’s rich chocolate, expensive watches or extremely private bank accounts you’re after, Switzerland can offer it. So, it’s no surprise to see Zurich so highly-ranked in this year’s cities ranking. Ranked eighth, the city is one of Europe’s wealthiest so don’t expect studying here to be cheap. That being said, tuition is lower than in other countries and you’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the most stunning natural scenery in the continent.

Two universities in Zurich are internationally ranked by QS, with ETH Zurich considered to be among the world’s 10 best institutions.

Scores best for: Desirability, for which it’s ranked fifth in the world.

Berlin

Berlin may not be the best city in Germany for students (we’ll be getting to that one shortly), but it remains a highly attractive study destination, ranking seventh this year. The non-existent tuition fees at public universities in most of Germany definitely help, but there’s more to Berlin than just a free education. Formerly divided by the Berlin Wall, Berlin has a rich, fascinating history that’s been influenced by a series of cultures, making it a fantastic destination for history buffs. The city’s financial district also has plenty to offer anyone who is more business-focused.

Of the three major universities based in Berlin, the most reputable is the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Scores best for: Student View. As mentioned previously, it’s one of the five cities which share fifth place for this indicator.

Munich

Pipping Berlin to the post to be the best city for students in Germany, Munich is the capital of Bavaria and the home of Oktoberfest, the world-renowned beer festival which draws in tourists from all around the world. Ranked sixth in the cities ranking, Munich also benefits from tuition at public universities being free. This, and the city’s two top universities, Technische Universität München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, make this an enticing study destination for many of the students we surveyed this year.

Scores best for: Student View. Munich is ranked a quite incredible second, with only Montreal achieving a better response from our student survey.

Paris

There was a time when Paris was ranked the best city in the world for students, but now it’s not even the best city in Europe for students. Ranked second in Europe and fifth overall, Paris remains a fantastic place to study abroad in Europe. With the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Montmartre and the Louvre all vying for your attention, you’ll never be short of things to do in your spare time and it’s hard to think of a more iconic or beautiful city. If you’re thinking of studying here, you won’t be short of options.

18 universities in Paris are internationally ranked, with ENS Paris currently considered to be the best of the bunch.

Scores best for: Content. With so many top universities, it’s no surprise Paris is ranked joint second with Seoul for the quality of its academic institutions.

London

Our list of top places to study abroad in Europe comes to an end with the best city in the world for students: London. Yes, it might be expensive and frequently doused by rain, but no other city comes close to offering such a high-quality education and fantastic student experience. Positively gargantuan in its size and sprawl, London has something for everyone, from the curry houses of Brick Lane to the royal parks of south-west London. Study at any of the 17 universities based here and you’ll have an incredible time (give or take the occasional frustrating journey on the Tube!).

Scores best for: Content. As with Paris, the vast number of universities helps put London over the edge and it’s number one in the world for its academic qualities.

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Written by Craig OCallaghan
As editor of TopUniversities.com, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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