Top 10 study abroad destinations

With the cost of attending a British university rising each year and growing numbers of young people worried about taking on huge debts, it's not surprising more students are deciding to study abroad instead. Universities in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand run a broad range of courses, while major institutions in mainland Europe also welcome applications from UK students. Many European universities hold courses in English, so even if your foreign language skills are not up to scratch, you can still study for a degree while enjoying all your host country has to offer.


Famous for its fine food, wine, stunning scenery and architecture, France's appeal stretches across generations, so it's easy to see why Paris was voted the world's best city for international students. According to a 2012 survey by website "Top," the cosmopolitan capital offers a wide selection of education establishments with small class sizes at a fraction of the cost of it's counterparts across the Channel. Affordable and attractive, more than 40,000 foreign students flocked to Paris in 2012, while further south the historic, picturesque and well-preserved city of Lyon ranked 16th thanks to its great student life.


Given its high standard of living and close social and cultural links to the UK, the only question most US-bound students have is which destination they should choose given the appeal of universities on both the east and west coast. Home to Harvard and MIT, bustling Boston ranked in third place of the "Top" suvery, with students highlighting its high quality of living and employment opportunities. Further west, Chicago and San Francisco ranked in the top 20, as did New York thanks to its quanity and quality of universities and great student social scene.


British backpackers have flocked "Down Under" in their droves for decades, but the sun-soaked country is also a strong magnet for international students due to its fantastic climate, modern cities, quality education and, of course, it's breathtaking scenery. While Sydney was voted the sixth best university in the world for foreign students, Melbourne came in two places above in fourth thanks to its high-class education, cosmopolitan culture and high standard of living. Around 1,100 miles north, laid-back Brisbane with three leading universities and the region's great golden beaches saw it placed 22nd in the survey.


With the Austrian capital Vienna regularly ranked one of the best cities in the world for quality of living by professionals and their families, it's only natural younger generations feel the same way. Low tuition fees combined with a vibrant cultural scene and easy access to ski resorts and breathtaking valleys and mountains, means Vienna is an increasingly popular choice for students from the UK and beyond.


Long popular with outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of fine chocolate and low taxes, Switzerland is also increasingly popular with foreign students thanks to its low tuition fees and high standard of living. The wealthiest city in Europe, Zurich is home to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) which is the highest ranked university in mainland Europe and one of best 20 in the world.


It will come as no surprise to read Germany's education system is widely recognised as one of the best in the world, though this quality does not come at the expense of affordability as course fees are relatively low. Many universities in the big cities of Berlin and Munich offer courses in English for the growing number of British and international students. Ranked joint 8th in the comprehensive "Top" survey, it was also rated the most affordable student city in the top 10 because of low rental costs. Students also highlighted its broad design, music, fashion and cultural scene.


The "land of saints and scholars," and just across the Irish Channel, Ireland is the ideal destination for students who love to study hard and party even harder. With its mix of sport, music, non-stop social scene and high-class universities, Dublin is a popular choice for international students who are guaranteed a traditional warm welcome. Ranked joint 8th in the survey, the city scored highly for its nightlife and high standards of living despite some universities charging more than their British counterparts.


Canada is often said to have something for everyone and for young British students that means the opportunity to blend internationally-recognised further education with great nightlife and a great range of outdoor sports such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking. Voted the 10th best student city in the survey, Montreal offers courses in English and French, with its many music, comedy and cultural festivals also making it a firm favourite among foreign students. Toronto (26th) and Vancouver (31st) also performed well in the survey.


Famous for food, fiesta, football, art and architecture, Barcelona (11th) and Madrid (16th) remain two of the most popular cities in the world for university students - as well as tourists. Home to Gaudi's finest work and beautiful beaches, the Catalan capital boasts a high standard of living at an affordable price, while Madrid offers young people a fascinating insight into Spanish culture, music and theatre.


The highest-ranked Asian city in the "Top" survey, Singapore is a clean, sleek and modern metropolis surrounded by tropical rain forests and successfully blends high quality education that will enhance a student's career prospects. While expensive given the high density of people and substantial professional salaries, the city is a multicultural melting pot that provides the visitor with a diverse range of learning experiences such as languages, music, cuisine and art.

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About the Author

News, business and sports journalist James Andrews began writing professionally in 1996. His articles have appeared in the "Coventry Evening Telegraph," "Daily Mail," "Newcastle Evening Chronicle," "The Sun," "Herald Sun," "Football Business" magazine and online at He holds a National Certificate in newspaper journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.