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Best Student Cities with Employers

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One of the six indicators used to compile the recently released QS Best Student Cities 2018 is employer activity, a measure of which cities are the most sought-after as recruitment grounds for graduate employers. It looks at the opinions of both domestic and international employers, who identified at least one university in the city as producing high-quality graduates.

Arguably, studying somewhere employers are looking to recruit from is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing where to apply. Here’s a closer look at the top 10 cities with employers.

=9. Melbourne


Ranked joint ninth for employer activity and third overall, Melbourne is Australia’s best-performing entrant in the QS Best Student Cities ranking and also receives a very high score for student view, an indicator based on our student survey, in which one question is whether students had stayed (or were planning to stay) in their city after graduation.

Melbourne’s highest-ranked university in the QS World University Tops® is the University of Melbourne. It boasts one of the best graduate employment rates in the country and counts four Australian prime ministers among its alumni.

=9. Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City shares ninth place with Melbourne and has the distinction of being the highest-performing city in this top 10 for affordability, one of the other indicators. Mexico City is one of the most important economic centers in Latin America and produces more than 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

8. Singapore

Ranked 15th overall in the Best Student Cities ranking, Singapore’s high score with employers is no doubt helped by the presence of two top universities, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National University of Singapore (NUS), which are consistently in the top 15 of the QS World University Tops.

The most recent Graduate Employment Survey conducted by the Singaporean Ministry of Education found that almost 94 percent of graduates at Singapore’s three main universities (NTU, NUS and Singapore Management University) were in employment six months after leaving university, with many getting offers before they’d even graduated.

7. Paris


Ranked seventh for employer activity and fifth overall in this year’s Best Student Cities ranking, Paris has one of the highest numbers of internationally ranked universities in the index at 18, earning it second place in the rankings indicator. 93 percent of HEC Paris School of Management’s graduates accepted job offers within three months of graduating, and the city, including the surrounding Île-de-France region, accounts for 30 percent of France’s GDP.

6. Zurich

Zurich climbed from 15th to eighth in the Best Student Cities ranking this year, with top-50 positions for all the indicators except affordability. Consistently voted one of the best cities in the world for overall quality of life, Zurich’s high score for employer activity is helped by the presence of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which appears in the top 10 of the World University Tops.

5. Beijing

Ranked 26th overall, Chinese capital Beijing is the home of highly regarded institutions such as Tsinghua University, which was the highest-ranked Asian university in the QS Graduate Employability Tops 2018 at 10th.

Beijing has one of the most prosperous and developed economies in China, with 52 Fortune Global 500 companies based here, the most in the world. Key industries in Beijing include finance, tourism, electronics, mining and machinery.

4. Seoul


South Korean capital Seoul is another prosperous Asian city and the country’s major hub for business, finance and technology. Also ranked 10th overall, it hosts many of the country’s most prestigious institutions, including Seoul National University which is ranked in the global top 50.

=2. Boston


Boston is ranked joint second in the world for employer activity, surpassing all other US cities, including the global financial hub of New York City. Also ranked joint 13th overall, Boston is home to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, which are consistently ranked in the global top five.

According to a recent ranking by US News and World Report, Harvard Business School graduates have the third-highest starting salaries in the country, at $159,440.

=2. London

Ranked as the best city in the world this year, London shares second place for employer activity with Boston. It’s also ranked first for the rankings indicator, thanks to the city’s 17 internationally ranked universities, including UCL (University College London) and Imperial College London.

London’s economy is so strong, it’s comparable to the size of Sweden or Iran, and graduates of its universities generally enjoy high employment rates and graduate salaries (although arguably this is necessitated by the city’s high cost of living).

1. Tokyo


The highest-ranked student city for employer activity continues to be Tokyo this year, and the city also climbed from seventh to second overall. The University of Tokyo was ranked 14th in the latest QS Graduate Employability Tops, the second highest-ranked institution in Asia, earning its best scores for the alumni outcomes and employer reputation indicators.

Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world and is Japan’s leading industrial center, holding its own against competing financial centers like Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Which student city would get your vote? Let us know in our survey, and have a say in next year’s results.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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