3 Canadian Cities Make the QS 'Top Student Cities' List for 2023
Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver all made the list, but student housing costs are rising fast.
Every year, QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) surveys and ranks the best student cities arould the world — alongside all kinds of other ranking categories.
For 2023, Canada has made the top 20 list three times, for our three biggest cities: Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver. To qualify for the rankings, a city must have a population of at least 250,000, and be home to at least two universities that make the QS World University Rankings list. QS checks out hundreds of schools to narrow down the very best institutions — and the cities that host them!
Three Canadian cities in the world's top 20 student cities
Canada boasts many world-class institutions that often rise to the top of international rankings, including the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia.
The three places that made QS' list of the best student cities are home to the three big schools mentioned above, alongside many other great universities and colleges. Canada is the only country on QS' list that has three cities in the top 20!
The first Canadian city on the QS list for 2023 is Montréal, Québec. Home to Concordia University, McGill University, which both teach in English, as well as Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal, which teach in French, Montréal is Québec's largest city, hosting nearly 2 million people.
The city is famous for summer festivals, including Just for Laughs and the Montréal International Jazz Festival — the largest events of their kinds in the world. Often called Canada's "cultural capital," Montréal has lots to offer to French and English speakers alike.
For the 2023 student city rankings, Montréal comes in at #14, slipping a few places from its #9 spot in 2022. Still, Montréal is an incredible place to live and study!
Just one spot down from Montréal in the rankings, Toronto, Ontario, is Canada's largest city. With over 3 million people in the city, and schools like York University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and the University of Toronto, the city is a hub for Canadian and international students alike.
From a diverse music and arts scene, including the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario, to a wide variety of international fashion and cuisine, Toronto brings people together from all around the world.
For the 2023 student city rankings, Toronto checks in at #15, down from #13 last year. If you're looking to have lots of different experiences, Toronto may be the city for you.
The final Canadian city to make the QS list is Vancouver, British Columbia. Clinging to the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is home to the University of British Columbia, Capilano University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and more. With a population of about 1 million, it's the smallest city of the three, but it's so densely-packed you'd never notice!
Famous for its natural beauty and temperate climate, Vancouver is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. From skiing to hiking to theatre and music, Vancouver has lots to offer, no matter what you're into.
For the 2023 student city rankings, Vancouver just squeezes in at #20! This is down just a bit from its #18 position last year. Vancouver is a beautiful place, especially if you love sunsets!
The downsides of these popular student cities
Part of what makes these cities so vibrant is the number and variety of people who live there! The high populations — and rapid growth — of these cities means life is expensive. The cost of living in Montréal, Toronto, or Vancouver is higher than most other parts of Canada — higher than most of the world, in fact.
Compounding the cost of living is the lack of affordable housing. Toronto and Vancouver are worst for this, but Montréal suffers as well. Finding a place to live as a student can be difficult and expensive, to the point where in some areas, students are forced to camp out because they can't find housing. This is a major challenge for all levels of government, as well as community members, to address.
Tuition cost, housing availability, and the cost of living all compound to make living in Canada as a student a tough road — especially if you're interested in one of the bustling student cities described above. (You may be able to find scholarships, bursaries, and financial aid to help you cover your costs, so be sure to do some digging before making your decision!)
If the costs are prohibitive, don't worry! Canada is home to lots of great universities and colleges across the country — even outside the major population centres. A smaller city or town might be more appealing and affordable! Be sure to listen to your own needs when deciding the right path for you. While Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver are undeniably fun, exciting cities, they're far from the full story when it comes to getting a good education in Canada.
Whether you choose one of the three Canadian cities on 2023's top student cities list, you opt for another highly-ranked city (London, England, at #1, anyone?), or you choose another school entirely, remember that you've got options, and it's fun to explore them. Check out the full list of top-rated student cities on QS to learn more.
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