Montreal tops QS World University Rankings 2017 Best Students Cities

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

For the first time Canada is topping an international university ranking list, however, the honors are not to any particular college, but for a city, Montreal. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the company behind the World University Rankings, released their sixth annual QS Best Student Cities index on Feb. 15, 2017, with Montreal, Quebec breaking Paris’ four-year reign as the best cities for students. Last year, Montreal placed seventh in their ranking of the top 100 cities for students. QS argues “Montreal’s success is the latest of a series of propitious signs for a city beginning to escape a period of economic stagnation, following positive growth forecasts for 2017, and the recent announcement of its selection as the ‘World’s Most Intelligent City.’”

As for the rest of the top ten, Paris, France moves down to second place mostly because of the recent rash of terrorist attacks losing points in Affordability and Desirability. London, England moved up two spots top third, clearly not affected by Brexit worries. United Kingdom cities earn points for Affordability and represent eight cities on the list. The top city in Asia is Seoul, South Korea in fourth moved up from tenth and taking the post from Tokyo last year’s third place, but now is seventh. In fifth is the top city in Australasia, Melbourne in Australia, last year it was in second place. Australia has seven cities on the list, all losing ground because of “Affordability issues.” Berlin, Germany moves up from ninth to sixth, Germany has another city in the top ten with Munich at ninth place.

The only top ten-city showing for the United States is Boston, Massachusetts in eighth place moving up from 13th place last year. Boston is the home of QS World University Ranking’s top school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard University ranked third. The US still has the most cities in the ranking with 12, but 10 of them saw their numbers fall because of Affordability. Rounding out the top ten is another Canadian city, Vancouver, British Columbia. Despite Asian universities rising in preeminence in global rankings, two Asian cities dropped out of the top ten, Singapore dropping from the sixth place to 14th, while Hong Kong dropped from eighth to tie for 11th.

Canada features three universities in this year’s QS World University Rankings the top 50. Montreal’s McGill University holds QS’s top spot at №30, moving down six spots, but reclaiming the top spot for Canada. The University of Toronto falls two to №36, while the University of British Columbia is the only one to rise, moving up five to 45th place. The QS ranking is the only international ranking where McGill is the top school in the country; University of Toronto usual takes that honor.

Beside, McGill, Montreal is home to another school that made the QS World University Rankings, the French language, Université de Montréal, placing “126th in the world and fifth in Canada.”Additional universities in Montreal include the English language Concordia University, a comprehensive university, and the Université de Québec a Montréal, a research university.

McGill’s principal Suzanne Fortier told Canadian CTV News, “A place where students, while they’re here in Montreal can start doing some internships for example in the business world so they can see what the future might look like for them.” While Concordia’s president Alan Shepard sees the enrollment benefits of Montreal topping the ranking, telling CTV, “The chaos in the U.S., my home country, and the difficulties with Brexit and elsewhere in Europe, and the security issues, are going to make Canada an incredibly attractive place. But we shouldn’t take that for granted.”

The methodology to determine the list looks at six factors, university rankings, student mix, desirability, employer activity, affordability. A seventh factor was added in 2017, student view, a global “survey of students and recent graduates.” As QS’ press released pointed out Montreal, “Multicultural, bilingual, student-centered and inclusive, Canada’s “cultural capital” performs well in all six categories of the QS Best Student Cities index.”

QS World University Rankings was originally a collaboration between the education and career company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) with the Times Higher Education (THE) to create a world university ranking in 2003. For five years their World University Rankings list was published on THE, with QS supplying the data. In 2010, Times Higher Education decided to break off the partnership and pair up with Thomson Reuters to produce their ranking list. The decision was mostly because of the heavy reliance of using peer reviews to determine the rankings. The QS World University Rankings first appeared in its present format in 2010.

QS Best Student Cities 2017:
1. Montreal
2. Paris
3. London
4. Seoul
5. Melbourne
6. Berlin
7. Tokyo
8. Boston
9. Munich
10. Vancouver

Canadian cities in the top 100:

  1. Vancouver (10th)
  2. Toronto (11th)
  3. Ottawa (26th)
  4. Quebec City (72nd)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University) is a Professional Librarian (CBPQ) & historian. Former editor @ History News Network & reporter @

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