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10 Best Cities for International Students

For many students, the opportunity to complete part or all of your studies in another country and experience a new culture is a desirable option. Of course, with thousands of universities all over the world, choosing the right one for you can be an overwhelming decision.

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United Kingdom
GBP has taken a look at the top 10 best cities ranked as best for international students looking to study abroad in 2023 - plus, we’ve looked into affordability of each option.

London takes gold

Once again, London took the top spot as the best city in the world for students. The city has a number of world-class universities in close proximity, including Imperial College London and University College London - both of which rank in the top 10 universities in the world. In addition, the city ranks highly for the ranking indicators Student Mix and Student Voice, with a diverse student population from different cultural backgrounds who are passionate about their home.

Second on the list is Munich, in joint place with Seoul - the latter rising an impressive seven places in this ranking. Munich is complimented on its high standard of living and diverse student culture, while Seoul ranks highly for Employer Activity, with the employment rate of graduates from graduate school at around 80%.

Top universities fail on affordability

When looking at the ‘Affordability’ ranking indicator, it’s clear that many of the cities listed fall short in terms of tuition costs and cost of living. London, for example, scores just 19.4 for affordability. UK students can expect to pay up to £9,250 a year on tuition fees alone, while international fees can go from £10,000 to £38,000. In addition, students are recommended to budget for at least £1,200 to £1,300 per month for all living expenses.

Out of the 10 cities scored best overall for international students, just two score over 50 for affordability on the ranking: Berlin, followed by Munich. The cities both tend to have lower prices compared to other major European cities, while the fact that the majority of Germany has no tuition fees for undergraduate students at public universities is no doubt a highly desirable quality for international students.

Notably, every city on the list has been ranked lower for affordability than the 2022 ranking. In 2022, London scored 36.9 on affordability. Despite retaining its top spot as the best city for students then, the cost of living has shot up substantially. In any case, it’s almost inevitable that the vast majority of international students will require money transfers from family abroad in order to aid their studies.

A top-quality education and strong employment opportunities is amongst the biggest priorities for students internationally. With the cost of living rising rapidly throughout the world, many students will face a choice between an affordable education, or access to the top hubs in the world with a strong chance of high-income employment after graduation. While affordability is inevitably a key consideration for international students, the majority of whom are on a tight budget and need help from family abroad, it should be but one consideration amongst many when choosing a place to study.”

Jonathan Merry, CEO of

Most affordable cities for students

The ranking also allows us to review the cities ranked highest purely for affordability. Of the top five, just Kuala Lumpur, ranking third for affordability, receives an overall score higher than 80.

The Malaysian city is ranked 28th overall (out of 140 cities), making it a strong contender for any student looking for a great place to study with a lower cost of living.

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Yasmin Purnell
Yasmin Purnell
Yasmin Purnell is a Content Writer and Editor for Yasmin has a wealth of experience writing across a range of topics within the personal finance, student, and business niche. Yasmin joined the team with the one main mission to provide accessible financial, career and business information and advice for all.