World's 18 best cities for higher education 2014

If we were to choose an official global university capital, which cities would be in the running? The following 18 would certainly be in with a shout

November 15, 2013

People love their university towns for a number of different reasons, and if your particular favourite isn’t on this list, it’s nothing personal.

We’ve simply looked at the cities that host the most universities that appear in the 2013-14 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and collected a little information about each.

If you want to nominate your own university city (and tell us why it’s great), you can tweet Times Higher Education using #BestHEcity.

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

Vienna

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

The international fame of Vienna is primarily due to a number of celebrated composers who lived in the city, including Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Strauß.

Today the city has a thriving higher education sector, with three institutions in this year’s World University Rankings top 400, with the University of Vienna the pick of the crop (ranked 170th).

Philadelphia skyline

Philadelphia

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Situated in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is the second largest city on the East Coast, and the fifth largest in the United States.

It is home to a number of important sites including Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell Centre and the National Constitution Centre.

Today, this historic city is also endowed with three higher education institutions which are ranked in the top 400 of this year’s World University Rankings. The University of Pennsylvania is the city’s highest achiever, ranked 16th.

Sultanahmet Camii, Istanbul

Istanbul

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Divided by the Bosporus, the western side of the city of Istanbul is situated in Europe, while and the east lies in Asia.

This transcontinental city has three universities positioned in this year’s World University Rankings top 400, with the Boğaziçi University making it into the top 200 - but only just (it’s in 199th position).

Milan Cathedral

Milan

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Think of Milan, and there’s a good chance you think of fashion. However, design and scientific research are also both key sectors in this thriving city, which boasts three universities in the top 300 of this year’s World University Rankings.

The University of Milan - Bicocca reached the 226-250 bracket in the latest ranking.

Forbidden City, Beijing

Beijing

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

This ancient city has been the capital of the Qing, Ming Yuan, Jin and Liao dynasties, and is home to one of the largest palaces in the world: The Forbidden City.

It’s not all about the past though. The city is home to Tsinghua University and Peking University, which ranked 50th and 45th respectively in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Furthermore, the Renmin University of China, also located in Beijing, ranked in the top 250.

Gamla stan, Stockholm

Stockholm

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Sweden’s capital and largest city is spread across 14 islands in Lake Mälaren.

Stockholm excels in IT, sustainability, culture, and welfare, and has been named as a leading green city by the Global Green Economy Index.

It’s also one of Europe’s leading centres for higher education, with three institutions ranking in the top 200 of this year’s World University Rankings. Karolinska Institute also registers in the top 50.

US Capitol Building, Washington DC

Washington DC

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Being home to the federal government has meant that Washington has attracted a diverse mix of individuals, ranging from members of congress and government workers to lobbyists and protestors.

The higher education sector is another draw, with three of its institutions ranked in the top 200 of this year’s World University Rankings.

Lake Michigan, Chicago

Chicago

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

City of Chicago is situated on the south-western shore of Lake Michigan, the fifth largest body of freshwater in the world (but you knew that already).

The first skyscraper in the United States was constructed in the Windy City in 1885, and was later demolished in 1931 (you probably knew that too).

The University of Chicago and Northwestern University rank ninth and 22nd respectively in our table, with the University of Illinois at Chicago making the top 200 too.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Barcelona (and Catalonia)

Three institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Catalonia has 12 universities in total, with a student population of around 235,000.

Of these, eight are situated in Barcelona, with three making the top 250 of the latest World University Rankings. Bravo!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney

Four institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Sydney - Australia’s most populous city - is surrounded by some of the country’s best beaches and has a diverse range of bars and restaurants. Not necessarily conducive to effective study.

However, Sydney is also a hub for research and learning. In 72nd position in our World University Rankings, the University of Sydney is the highest placed of the four Sydney institutions that make the list.

Melbourne skyline

Melbourne

Four institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

According to a survey carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Melbourne is the “most liveable location” in the world, thanks to its stability, healthcare, culture, infrastructure and education.

Two of the city’s higher education institutions make this year’s World University Ranking’s top 400, with a further two breaking top 100.

Tokyo Tower, Japan

Tokyo

Four institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Comprised of 26 cities, 23 special wards, 5 towns and 8 villages, the Tokyo metropolitan area is home to around 7 per cent of Japan’s population, and is the country’s centre of culture, finance, business and - of course - higher education.

Four Tokyo universities were ranked in the top 300 of this year’s World University Rankings, with one, The University of Tokyo, ranked 23rd.

Bongeunsa Temple, Seoul

Seoul

Five institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

This bustling city, home to more than 10.5 million people and covering an area of 605.33 square kilometres, is one of the largest in the world.

Seoul has a high-tech reputation, contributed to by the research undertaken by its institutions of higher education - including Seoul National University, which established itself as a world top 50 university in this year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Statue of Liberty, New York City

New York City

Five institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Times Square, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park - all synonymous with New York City.

This fast paced, 500 square mile, concrete metropolis known as the “Capital of the World” also has a strong reputation for educational excellence.

Our rankings placed Yeshiva University in the top 200, with New York University (NYU) and Columbia University positioned in the top 40 too.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Paris

Six institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

With 1803 monuments, 173 museums, 470 parks and gardens it is no surprise that Paris is well known for its culture and history, and as a hugely popular destination for university students.

Paris is a global centre for science and business, and boasts six of the world’s top 400 universities.

Of these, the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, École Polytechnique and École Normale Supérieure all make the prestigious top 100.

Junk in Hong Kong harbour

Hong Kong

Six institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

Located on the southeast coast of China, Hong Kong’s diverse character emerged as a result of its international harbour and colonial history.

Six of the World University Rankings’ top 400 institutions are located in Hong Kong, with its flagship, The University of Hong Kong, ranked 43rd.

George Washington Statue, Boston

Boston (and surrounding area)

Seven institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

The capital of Massachusetts, and cultural hub of New England, is home to over 617,000 Bostonians and many world-class higher education institutions.

With three of the World University Rankings top 400 universities situated in the city and a further four just outside its boundary, it is no surprise that the Boston area is a student magnet.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ranked a lofty second and fifth respectively in the latest Times Higher Education rankings.

Big Ben, London

London

Nine institutions in the World University Rankings top 400

With nine institutions placed in our World University Rankings top 400 (four of which place in the top 40, no less), London is a formidable hub of higher education.

A quarter of the city’s 400,000 university students come from outside the UK, providing a cosmopolitan environment for those who choose to study there.

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Reader's comments (4)

Toronto or Montreal...?
Both good suggestions. As a Newcastle graduate (UK), that'd get my shout.
No Los Angeles? 3 universities in the top 100, including the #1 university overall (Cal Tech)!
What about Dublin?. All its three universities are in the top 400. With a population of just around 1.3 million, Dublin for is size also attracts relatively large numbers of international students.This is not the case with some of the cities mentioned in the article.

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