September 28, 2023

Cities as centers of high education

Universities are a real ecosystem: students, teachers, science, R&D, campuses. There are thousands different ways to compare universities, including their authority, number of science articles and the number of books in a library.

Nowadays cities may have several dozen world-famous universities. The city also has businesses, jobs, quality of life, opportunities and this influences whether education in the city is attractive to students.

CDP analyzed how the ranking of “Best Cities for Education” from research center QS has changed in recent years.

Seoul, Korea

Seoul has the most impressive breakthrough - since 2019 (the first city ranking), the city has risen from 10th to 3rd place in 5 years, just after London and Tokyo.

The city has become much more attractive for two reasons: (1) employers all over the world have begun to value local graduates more highly and (2) thanks to the competent promotion of the city and universities, the city has become better perceived among future students.

The total number of foreign students in Korea has reached 152 thousand (2021), of which 120 thousand are on the Degree course.

Back in 2001, the Korean Government set the goal of promoting “Study in Korea”, identifying 43 countries and more than 200 cities as targets for informing about study opportunities in Korea, holding exhibitions, and media events.

The government created a special body to coordinate education activities - “National Institute of International Education”.

National Institute became an analytical center - digests about modern trends in education abroad, and the best practices of foreign universities are regulary prepared. This applies to all universities, not just Seoul ones.

Also it is responsible for a “single window” - the portal “Study in Korea” was launched, where all information about studying in Korea is posted, from applying for study till obtaining a visa, detailed guidelines for students for different situations and online consultations. This removes the language barrier for students who do not know the Korean language and are not acquainted with peculiarities of life in Korea and Seoul.

And the city's success is influenced by the prevalence of the English language, to the extent that the city is really integrated into the world economy and financial system.

It is not surprising that, following Seoul, other Korean cities are rapidly growing - Daejeon (from 89 to 73) and Busan (newly included,2024 - 128).


The city-state of Singapore also has impressive results. Over the past 5 years, the city has risen from 20th to 15th place, strengthening itself as a global education center.

Singapore is home to two world-leading universities - National University of Singapore (NUS) [global ranking – 8, 2024] and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) [global ranking – 26, 2024]. The INSEAD business school campus (a joint French-Singapore project) is also located in Singapore.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) operates one of the most famous business schools - Singapore Business School, which is also gaining popularity and is among the best in the world.

All these universities have extremely high recognition among employers around the world. This is not surprising, since every large company has a branch or representative office in Singapore, one of the financial capitals of the world.

Singapore has not yet created a “single window” for students, but the recipes are quite simple:

1) education is available in English, moreover, English is recognized as the official language of Singapore.

2) there is a huge demand for specialists in the city-state itself, because thousands of international companies and startups have already opened their offices in the city. University graduates have no doubt that they will find well-paid and respected jobs in the city.

So what does the city and its universities gain from the impressive growth in the rankings?

1) the prestige of training is growing, and along with it the price. Due to this, universities receive additional income, which can be spent on salaries of researchers and new research and development.

The most interesting in this regard is the experience of European countries that provide scholarships and benefits for residents of their countries.

2) cities attract leading international manufacturing, research and financial institutions, confident that they will be able to attract high-quality and trained employees.

Universities for a city always mean renewal and development. We believe that the city and universities form a synergy that jointly aims to develop the economy and the future.

Dear colleagues, when using the materials of the article, please refer to the source CDP Center.

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