Deciding to study abroad can be a fantastic opportunity to broaden your horizons and further your career prospects, all while seeing the world and experiencing new cultures.
While the coronavirus pandemic may have halted plans to study overseas for many, 2021 will hopefully see those plans able to take place, so where are the best places for those looking for a new experience?
We’ve analyzed popular studying abroad destinations around the world on a number of factors, relating to both academic and lifestyle, to find out.
From studying in the historic institutions of London to essay writing in a Parisian cafe, where are the ultimate places to study abroad in 2021?
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London is truly one of the most popular cities in which to study, and for good reason! Over 100,000 people choose to study, which is known as one of the most diverse cities in the world, as well as one of its most important financial centers. In our ranking, London was the highest-scoring city for three different factors: the number of top-ranked universities (22), Instagrammability (147 million posts), and number of vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants (4,163).
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Paris has long been an enticing destination for overseas visitors, especially those from the States looking to live the quintessential Parisian lifestyle. Whether the city of lights matches up to your perception from film and TV, it’s a remarkable city to study in and that is reflected in the fact that it was the second-most Instagrammable of all the cities we looked at, appearing in over 127 million posts on the platform. Paris also scored highly for factors including the average ranking of its universities and number of international students.
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Russia’s capital is a huge and fast-paced city with lots of opportunities for those looking for somewhere to study. Alongside the cosmopolitan skyscrapers of the city, Moscow is also full of cultural and historical treasures. Unlike the top two ranking cities on our list, Moscow is also among one of the more affordable cities to study in, with an average monthly cost of living of $561, and also scored highly for Instagrammability and the number of top-ranked universities in the city (13).
By far the city which is home to the greatest wealth of top institutions for you to choose from is London, with 22 different universities appearing on the QS World University Rankings, including Imperial College London and University College London, which were ranked eight and tenth respectively.
Looking more specifically at the rankings of the universities in each city, the one which placed the highest is Austin, although it should be noted that the city does just have one institution on the QS rankings, the University of Texas at Austin, which is ranked 78th in the world and is the flagship of the University of Texas System.
A speedy internet connection is vital to students today, so we also took a look at which of the cities has the best average download speeds. The answer (by a fair distance) was Madrid, with an average speed of 132.26 Mb/s.
It’s likely that if you’re studying abroad, it’s your first time living away from home, which is a big deal in itself, even before you take into account the pressure of your new school. That’s why a large community of fellow international students is important and in our ranking, the city with the most was actually Vienna, Austria, with over 170,000 international students residing in the city.
There are iconic and photogenic locations around every corner of London, so it’s little surprise that it was the city on our list which was most often posted about on Instagram, with just under 150 million hashtag mentions of the city.
Of course, the academic side of things is only one aspect of studying abroad, and a good social scene is important too. Of the cities which we analyzed, the one with the most bars in the city center was Sydney, Australia, with 377, far more than anywhere else on the list, many of which are found on King Street, in Newtown.
It’s also of paramount importance to be able to pick up a quick bite to eat in between your studies and the city that was best served with fast food joints on our list was Bogotá, Colombia. From local street food delicacies to the chains that we know and love, if you choose to study in Bogotá you won’t be stuck for options.
Of course, we don’t want to characterize students as living off nothing more than burgers and noodles, and today’s student is increasingly conscious of the impact of their diet on the environment and their health. And there was a clear winner when it came to the number of restaurants offering vegan and veggie-friendly options, and that was London, with over 4,000!
Finally, we know that living as a student isn’t always easy on the finances and many of these cities can be very expensive to live in, which can make things even harder. Of those which we studied, it was Istanbul that had the cheapest estimated cost of living, at $420 per person for a month (not including rent).
We analyzed a number of common destinations where people go to study abroad on the following eight factors, giving each city a normalized score out of ten for each one, before taking a final average across all eight scores.
The number of top-ranked universities was taken from the QS World University Rankings 2021and was a simple count of the number of universities from each city that appeared on the rankings. We also took an average rank of each of these universities too. For universities that were given a tied rank (for example, 501-510) we took the lowest rank (so 501 in this example).
Average download speeds were sourced from Broadband Speedchecker’s ISP directory..
The numbers of international students were sourced from the World Cities Culture Forum.
The number of Instagram posts mentioning each city using hashtags, sourced as of April 9th 2021.
The number of bars and fast food restaurants were sourced using business listings on Google Maps.
The number of vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants were sourced from Tripadvisor.
The estimated monthly cost of living was sourced from Numbeo and refers to the average living costs of a single person, excluding rent.