Diana Beech: It’s official – London remains the best city in the world to be a student

Diana Beech: It’s official – London remains the best city in the world to be a student

For the fifth year in a row London has been crowned the world’s best student city, shaking off stiff competition from the likes of Tokyo, Melbourne and Berlin.

With an impressive collection of 50 world-leading universities and higher education colleges, the capital offers students from around the globe an unrivalled choice of study options and an exceptional academic experience.

As well as being home to two of the four UK universities in the 2024 QS Global Top 10, plus many other large, multi-faculty universities offering first-rate, industry-facing training, London also boasts an unparalleled array of top-ranking small, specialist institutions – each offering a variety of courses across the performing arts, creative industries and even scientific research.

The opportunity to study in any one of London’s world renowned higher education centres  guarantees students a high-quality higher education and opens doors to a vast network of influential scholars, industry professionals and potential employers.

With this year’s school-leavers due to receive results for their A-level and equivalent qualifications next month, this news of London’s successes could not be better timed, especially for applicants looking to change or amend their study options as part of the 2023 UCAS Clearing process. This offers all of them the opportunity to release themselves from their firm offer of a university place and seek a different one somewhere else if they have the required grades and meet other criteria.

Earlier this week, the government announced plans to restrict recruitment to university courses that are not delivering good outcomes for students, based on employment prospects and future earnings. Today’s accolade for London’s higher education sector nevertheless suggests that the “Class of 23” would do well to consider any one of London’s higher education institutions among their summer clearing options.

After all, we already know that many of the top-ranking institutions for social mobility in the country are the less selective universities located in London – in fact 17 of the top 20! We also know that London’s students are more satisfied with their higher education experience than  counterparts anywhere else in England.

It’s easy to see why. Firstly, London’s diverse population attracts individuals from every corner of the world. Its multicultural environment offers students unique opportunities for interacting with people from a wide range of backgrounds, sharing ideas, perspectives and experiences. In turn, this exposure to different cultures fosters an appreciation for global diversity and enhances students’ intercultural competence – a crucial skill that is increasingly valued by employers in today’s interconnected world.

Secondly, London offers students a plethora of social activities, including live music events, film festivals, comedy shows and food markets from around the world. Students can explore London’s different neighbourhoods, make lifelong friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime, while on campus they can immerse themselves in intellectual environments that cultivate critical thinking, creativity and a thirst for knowledge, and inspire them to reach their full potential.

London’s universities power London and are powered by it in equal measure. It is London’s status as a hub for finance, technology, the arts, fashion and more that offers students unparalleled career opportunities across these various industries.

At the same time, London’s universities further enhance these sectors’ footprints in the capital, be it through their research and innovation activities, their ability to bring ideas to market through spin-outs and support for entrepreneurs, or their nurturing of the next generation of talent. Earlier this week, a  vice chancellor of the Royal College of Art described this “mutually beneficial ecosystem” perfectly.

The capital’s universities do employability exceptionally well, and students across London can benefit from internships, work placements, and networking events that facilitate connections with industry professionals. The proximity of London’s institutions to major companies and startups provides students with a competitive advantage, allowing them to gain practical experience and kick-start their careers.

It is no wonder, then, that countless students from all parts of the globe continue to choose London as their educational home. It is a city that captures hearts and fuels ambitions. And for as long as we keep London ahead of the pack and retain its title as the world’s best city in which to be a student, the longer it can fuel growth and opportunity for the entire nation.

Diana Beech is chief executive of London Higher. Follow her on Twitter.

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