Bengaluru ranks a poor 81 among global education hubs—and that’s India’s best

Striving for excellence.
Striving for excellence.
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Indian cities are among the least desirable destinations for international students. Not surprising then, that only four of them figure in a global ranking of the 120 most popular education hubs in the world.

Poor employment opportunities after studies, and high costs of living dent the country’s image among foreign students, despite it being home to 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

Only Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and New Delhi found a place in the Best Student City Ranking 2019 report, released yesterday (July 31) by the London-based educational consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds.

While Bengaluru was a debutant in the list, Mumbai jumped 14 places, and Chennai inched up two ranks from last year. New Delhi, meanwhile, slipped six places in the list.

QS ranked cities based on six parameters—the number of top-ranked universities, the proportion of student population in a city, quality of life, job opportunities available after graduation, cost of living, and student feedback.

Indian cities fared poorly on student experience. Bengaluru was ranked 67, followed by Mumbai (77), Chennai (114), and New Delhi (116). The high cost of living in cities like Mumbai was also a deterrent. Mumbai was ranked 57 on the affordability index.

London led the 2019 list, followed by Tokyo and Melbourne.

Some good news

India’s “Silicon Valley,” home to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IIM Bengaluru (IIMB), is the highest-ranked debutante.

It is also the seventh most affordable city worldwide thanks to its low cost of living and low tuition fees. A meal here costs as low as Rs150 ($2.17), said QS citing data from Numbeo, a Serbia-based online platform.

“It’s encouraging to see Bengaluru’s debut at the top of the national list and to see Mumbai growing in popularity among students. Both Delhi and Chennai have performed very well on the affordability criterion—an aspect that’s essential to sustain the internal demand for university education,” said Ben Sowter, research director at QS.

While exploring educational opportunities, 81% of students surveyed by QS opted for a city they considered safe and welcoming. Another 62% looked at the city’s cost of living and 61% went with a city that had universities with good reputation for high quality higher education.

Openness of cities to allow overseas students to work while studying was another important criterion for 59% of the students, said QS.

The report comes amid efforts by prime minister Narendra Modi’s government to make India a global destination for higher studies. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had proposed the “Study in India” programme in the union budget presented last month.