The best places to be a student are also the world's biggest urban centers, according to new ranking from QS, which collects and publishes a wide range of rankings for global universities. The slides below show the top 10 "college cities":
These are true economic powerhouses: Eight of the top 10 made my list of the 25 most economically powerful cities.
The rankings are based on five indicators given equal weight: the percent of the city population made up of students, the ranking of the universities in each place, quality of living (based on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey 2011), employer activity (based on employers who identify institutions as having excellent graduates), and affordability (based on tuition fees, retail pricing, and the city’s cost of living). The rankings are limited to cities with a population over 250,000 -- so they exclude many smaller college towns -- and cities that have at least two institutions ranked on the QS World University Rankings.
Large global cities have increased their edge in attracting top students over the past couple of decades. For one, increasing numbers of students want to live in a big urban center where they can pursue varied interests and get an edge in the job market when they graduate.
Global cities with their diverse populations are especially attractive to the growing numbers of international students studying outside their home countries.
The overall quality of life in many global cities has also improved over the past couple of decades. Some have made a concerted push to improve their appeal to students; and others have sought to upgrade and expand their university and higher education offerings. A good example is New York City's new tech campus on Roosevelt Island, where Cornell University and Technion will create a major new higher education presence.
The relationship between global cities and leading universities in mutually reinforcing. Great universities thrive in great cities which attract people and business from around the world. But great cities also need more than business headquarters and cultural amenities. Top universities help them function as "global idea capitals," to use New York University President John Sexton's phrase, which adds to their appeal, cachet and economic prowess.