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Bengaluru is India’s best city for students, a survey has found. Here’s why

A QS global ranking says Bengaluru is safe and welcoming, offers affordable tuition and housing, a bunch of good institutes, and job and internship prospects.

education Updated: Aug 21, 2019 17:10 IST
Vanessa Viegas
Vanessa Viegas
Hindustan Times
(iStock)
         

Which are India’s best cities for students? According to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Best Student Cities 2019 survey, released by the London-based higher education think tank earlier this month, Bengaluru is one of only two Indian cities in the Top 100 (the other is Mumbai, but more on that later).

Bengaluru zoomed onto the list, for the first time ever, in 81st position, as a city with good educational institutes, relatively low tuition, a place where you can also get a hearty meal for as little as Rs 150, affordable public transport, and where housing is freely available in a range of price slabs, the report found.

Mumbai came in at #85 (up from #99 in last year’s rankings), Delhi at #113 (down from #107), and Chennai at #115 (up from #117).

Factors affecting the rankings for these cities could include the high cut-off rates and high cost of living in Mumbai, as well as the relatively small number of good colleges. Safety remained a major concern in Delhi; and diversity on campus, in Chennai.

“Bengaluru would appear to have sidestepped all of these drawbacks, plus it has the allure of the tech industries and start-up culture, not to mention a happening social scene and good weather,” says Kimberly Dixit, CEO and co-founder of overseas higher-education consultancy, The Red Pen. “There’s also the greenery and open spaces of Bengaluru, a cosmopolitan population even off-campus, and a good nightlife.”

Globally, London topped the list for a second consecutive year, followed by Tokyo and Melbourne in the second and third positions.

In the QS annual rankings, cities are ranked on diverse indicators grouped into six key categories — student mix, desirability, employer activity, affordability, university rankings and student view (which is a QS survey of students and recent graduates from around the world).

As per the 2019 International Student Survey by QS, which is a precursor to the best student cities rankings, it was found that 81% of respondents looked for a city that was safe and welcoming to international students, with cost of living coming a close second in terms of parameters prioritised.

STRONG PORTFOLIO

“A strongest suit of Bangalore is its perception as India’s Silicon Valley,” says Prateek Raj, a professor in strategy at the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore (IIM-B). It’s strong research institutions help too — the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are based here, and the city is home to sought-after branches of renowned institutions such as National Law School (NLS), National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and the IIM.

“Add to that, several job opportunities and internship prospects including at world-renowned companies such as Accenture, Wipro, TCS, IBM and Oracle,” says education counsellor Karan Gupta.

“While other cities may have one or more of these characteristics, no city offers all the above as a package, in the way Bengaluru does,” adds Raj of IIM-B.

Mehreen Mandary, 25, an Indonesian pursuing an MSc in psychology at the Acharya Institute of Graduate Studies in Bengaluru, says there’s no other place in India where she feels so at-home. “I’ve lived in Mumbai and Delhi, where I have sometimes been charged extra money or treated differently because of my accent,” she says. “I’ve never been treated as a foreigner in Bengaluru. And it’s far less polluted and feels safer than Mumbai and Delhi. People don’t stare, you never feel uncomfortable.”

What will it take for us to exit the 80s and move further up the rankings? “We need more research and development funding in our universities,” says Raj. Such a push, which is a low-hanging fruit, can put India and its cities on the research map, and create global young scientific leaders too.

“But to do such a thing we need a vision that looks at cities and universities in a different manner: as innovative and entrepreneurial hubs. Cities like London and Boston offer good templates in this regard.”

First Published: Aug 21, 2019 17:10 IST