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Paris ranked 'best student city' in the world

Dan MacGuill · 20 Nov 2013, 16:22

Published: 20 Nov 2013 16:22 GMT+01:00

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Living in Paris has its well-documented downsides, not least the cost of accommodation and socialising, but when all’s said and done, there’s no place better in the world to be a university student.

That’s according to the results of this year’s QS “Best Student Cities” rankings, which placed  the French capital in the top spot for the second year running. The French capital edged London into second place, despite the British capital being described as a “nerve-center of global academia” by the report.

British education company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) explained that Paris was top of the pile once again due to the high number of world-ranked universities, the low cost of tuition, and the attractiveness of the city itself.

“It has no less than 17 world-leading universities…comfortably more than any other city on the planet except for London, which has 18,” QS reported.

“And while Paris does have a reputation for being an expensive place to live, relatively low tuition fees mean that for students, it actually represents a more affordable destination when compared to many other popular student cities.”

“Parisian graduates are targeted by a vast range of employers across the continent… and students in Paris often enjoy extensive access to leading academics, with small class sizes and intensive teaching,” the report concluded.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS added: "It was the performance of Paris's institutions in the QS rankings, the employability of its graduates and high quality of living scores that made the capital city, once again, the world's best student city."

SEE ALSO: Ten reasons why Paris is better than London

For Marc Montheard, Dean of Student Services at the American University of Paris, however, the study's conclusion was surprising.

"Obviously Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and quality of life here - if you can afford it - is second to none," he told The Local on Wednesday.

"But despite the low cost of tuition, and discounts and benefits for students, the reality is that Paris is still a very expensive city to live in," he added.

"As well as that, the job market is very tight for graduates at the moment."

"Paris is definitely of more benefit to international students who study here for a while, and can take their qualifications to a more thriving job market, than it is for French students who stay in France after graduating, many of whom are really struggling to find jobs."

With Singapore ranked third, Sydney took fourth place, finishing ahead of Australian rival Melbourne for the first time. The report pointed out, however that the two were closely matched, both boasting "a strong selection of universities, highly international student communities, and excellent ratings from graduate employers."

The former only surpasses the latter thanks to a slightly better quality of life.

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Not surprisingly, Boston is the top-ranked US city, finishing in eighth place. "Its cluster of historic universities has earned it the nickname, 'The Athens of America,'" said the report.

"As well as its proximity to world leaders MIT and Harvard, the city also boasts a further five prestigious universities."

Montreal is next, finishing in ninth place, and the top German city in the rankings is Munich, which grabs 10th place.

Some new cities also made the top 50, such as Oslo, Auckland and Prague.

The QS rankings might come as a surprise to the folks at student magazine Etudiante.fr, who back in September came out with their rankings of the best cities in France to be a student. The French capital wasn't even among the top 10.

Click below to find out which ones were (and why), and which corner of France claimed the title of best student city in France.

French education officials and politicians will be heartened by the acclaim for Paris in the QS report, which comes after a series of lists that were interpreted by some as a damning indictment of the country’s university system.

In October, The Local reported how not a single French third-level institution had been included in the top 50 of the Times Higher Education Supplement’s “World University Rankings.”
At the time, the rankings’ editor Phil Baty suggested Gallic universities have been hindered by their reluctance to embrace the English language.
“With the global academic community increasingly using English as the language of global scholarship, these disappointing results are likely to intensify debate about the promotion of English in French institutions,” he said.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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