ST: S'pore top Asian city for varsity education - 16/02/2012

16 Feb 2012

High quality of life, strong reputation among employers help Republic achieve ranking of 12th best in the world

By Amelia Tan

SINGAPORE has been ranked the 12th best city in the world and the top Asian city for students to pursue a university education, in a new listing by London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

The Best Student Cities ranking by the education and career consultancy compares how attractive 98 cities are as destinations for both local and international students to pursue higher education.

Each city had to have a population of more than 250,000 and at least two institutions ranked in the QS world university listings.

They were ranked according to five equally weighted categories.

QS looked at how the universities performed in its world university rankings last year. The National University of Singapore (NUS) was in 28th place, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was 58th in the ranking.

The Singapore Management University, which specialises mainly in business, was not included in the annual survey.

The other criteria were: The mix of local and international students in the schools, the quality of living in the cities, the universities' reputation among employers for producing excellent graduates and the affordability of education and cost of living in the cities.

QS intelligence unit head Ben Sowter said Singapore's high quality of life and strong reputation among employers were reasons why the city came in ahead of cities with world-renowned universities such as Chicago, which was in 15th place, and New York, at 18th place.

Paris took top place, followed by London. European cities had a good showing, with 20 of them making it to the top 50. QS said the performance of European cities was bolstered by their high scores in affordability and quality of living.

American universities such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology traditionally take the top few spots in university rankings.

But US cities fell behind in the new rankings, partly because of the relatively high tuition fees and relative high cost of living, said QS.

Boston, where Harvard is located, came in third, and was the only American city to make it to the top 10. Singapore and Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Tokyo made it to the top 20.

The Best Student Cities ranking takes a different approach from the world university listings by QS and Britain's Times Higher Education magazine, both of which look at individual universities rather than cities.

The university rankings also do not take into account factors such as affordability and quality of life.

Mr Sowter said: 'Making informed higher education decisions is about more than just choosing the most prestigious university.

'By taking into account factors such as affordability and employer reputation, this ranking gives students a wider comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of different study destinations around the world.'

He said Singapore did well overall, but fell behind in affordability because of the relatively high cost of living here.

NTU and NUS said they were glad Singapore did well.

NUS provost Tan Eng Chye said: 'We are also pleased to note that Singapore is rated positively by local and international employers. The results reflect a strong recognition from global employers of the world-class quality of NUS' education and research.'

NTU associate provost of undergraduate education, Professor Kam Chan Hin, said: 'The fact that QS places Singapore among the top 12 cities in the world confirms that we are on the right track to establishing ourselves in the top league of nations with the world's best universities.'

Source: Straits Times

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