Crikey 14 September 2012
As well as its 2012 World University Rankings, with four Australian universities are in the top 50 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) also has a top 50 ranking of the Best student cities in the world in 2012. Australia does well with all five mainland capitals in the top 30: Melbourne (4), Sydney (6), Brisbane (22), Perth (25), Adelaide (29).
QS began with a list of 98 cities which each have a minimum population of 250,000 and at least two ranked educational institutions. It then applied 12 indicators in 5 categories:
- World ranking of the city’s universities
- Student mix – essentially the number of international students studying at the city’s ranked institutions
- Quality of living – a score based on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey
- Employer activity – essentially a measure of employers’ assessments of the quality of graduates from the city’s ranked institutions
- Affordability – based primarily on tuition fees, but also the Big Mac Index and the Mercer Cost of Living Index.
The high ranking of Australia’s universities on the QS index is in spite of their very low rating on the Affordability indicator. Sydney and Melbourne are the least affordable of all 50 cities for students (Cairo is most affordable).
Tuition fees are one reason – average annual fees in Sydney are $25,800 compared to $2,300 in Paris. That expense is exacerbated by the high exchange rate. The cost of living in Australian cities, particularly accommodation, is also high.
If Melbourne were as affordable as Paris, or at the average of affordability for all 50 cities, it would be the leading city in the world for students overall on the QS ranking.