What makes a great student city


What makes a great student city? Perhaps it’s the bustling and vibrant atmosphere that brings your city to life, or perhaps it’s the peaceful, serene environment that encompasses your campus. Either way, your student city could make or break your university experience. That’s why we at Cybernews Academy want to explore what makes a great student city, what facilities are best for students, and how to pick the city you want to study in. This is a crucial decision as the city you choose to study in may be the one you stay in for the rest of your adult life. To understand what is important to students when choosing their city of study, we spoke to five Singapore, Australian, and U.S. students about their cities. They told us what they value within their locations and what factors they considered when choosing their city.

Meet our panel:

  • Taylah McCullough, BI Computer Science and Finance, The University Of Queensland, Australia
  • Yiji Suk, BS Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Bharat Naganath, MS Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Harshith Senthilkumaran, BS Computer Science and Engineering, UCLA, U.S
  • Quang Nguyen, MS Software Engineering, University of Melbourne, Australia

Environment

Yiji Suk, a BS Data Science and Artificial Intelligence student at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, explained that the environment was a significant factor in choosing his university. “I chose Singapore because it has an extremely similar environment to South Korea. This made adjusting to my new location easier and ensured I faced no significant difficulties.” Many of the students we spoke to had a similar thought process when deciding on their location. Bharat Naganath, an MS in Information Technology from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, told us that he chose to study in Sydney due to the similar climate and conditions within his home country. “I wanted to go to Australia because of the weather, which is quite moderate, just like in India.”

Community

The overall atmosphere is one of the main aspects that influenced our panelist's decision to pursue an education in their cities. Harshith Senthilkumaran, a BS in Computer Science and Engineering at UCLA, U.S., told us that LA's warm and helpful environment swayed his decision to study in this North American city. “The student community is always willing to help, which I wasn’t used to at first, but it’s great. Everyone’s nice in LA.” Similarly, Taylah McCullough, a BI Computer Science and Finance student at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, mentioned that her city has a similar feel. “Brisbane is quite small even though it’s a capital city, so a lot is going on, but it still feels like a nice place to live with a supportive community.” If you are just leaving home for the first time, it can be crucial to feel a sense of a strong and supportive community behind you. Finding a location with a large student population or a small, quiet community of helpful individuals can be the difference between an adequate university experience and an exceptional one.

Culture

The culture of a city is an essential factor to consider when planning on moving away from home. You may want to immerse yourself in a melting pot of different cultures, or you may want to find a slice of home in your new city. When speaking with our panelists, we discussed the importance of culture when choosing where to study. Bharat told Cybernews Academy that studying in a new city exposed him to various new cultures. “Living in Sydney, there’s a blend of different cultures as people from all over the world travel to Australia. There are many different people here, so it gives you new perspectives and allows you to cultivate a well-rounded personality.” One of the important aspects of moving away is feeling a strong sense of community, especially if you are an international student. Bharat explained that a strong international community studies in Sydney. “At the University of Technology Sydney, 50% of students are international,” contributing to the blend of different cultures within the city.

Activities

What the city offers is essential when deciding where to study and even stay throughout your professional and academic life. Assessing what there is to do will help you understand your city’s environment and whether or not you would consider studying there. If a bustling environment with many events and activities is important, consider moving to a larger metropolitan city like Singapore or LA. However, smaller cities like Brisbane might suit you better if you prefer a slower-paced area with natural environments to explore. Taylah described the different environments to explore in Brisbane. “The city is amazing for walks, and my campus is on the river. Our campus is near the bush, meaning we can go for mountain hikes, but many beaches are nearby. We are so lucky regarding our location as the student nights out are also quite fun.” Similarly, Bharat mentioned that Sydney offers various activities that appeal to this student. “There are so many things to do in Sydney; there are beaches, tourist places like the Blue Mountains, zoos, and a lot of nature to explore.” Maybe you’re looking for something more metropolitan. Harshith told us about the environment in LA and the different activities that attracted him to the city. “There’s a lot of nightlife and a bunch of history related to Hollywood, so there’s a lot of interesting activities to participate in.”

Affordability

One of the main factors to consider when choosing where to study is affordability. It’s important to consider your finances when moving away from home, as university is expensive, especially if you’re an international student. Suppose you want to move to a bustling city like Singapore or London. In that case, you may have to consider how much you will need to spend on rent, amenities, and other necessities. During our discussion, Yiji mentioned that the cost of living in Singapore is quite high for students, as a room outside of student accommodation could cost anywhere from $3000 to $4000 per month. This is why addressing whether to live on campus or off campus is essential to your decision. Yiji mentioned that on-campus accommodation is efficient and affordable, which made his decision to study in Singapore much easier. Bharat took into account his finances when deciding to study in his city. “Fees were on the lower end compared to other top universities in Australia,” which helped Bharat finalize his decision to move to Sydney.

Work

Another essential facet of any city is the job prospects. This is a great indicator of how well the city operates and whether or not it’s worth studying and living there. Many students we spoke to said they assessed their student city based on the graduate prospects. Taylah and Harshith mentioned that their student cities (Brisbane and LA) are tech hubs with a great entrepreneurial scene. This swayed their decision to study in these cities as there were excellent opportunities for them post-graduation. Bharat also mentioned that his location was “intriguing as it was efficient and had good job prospects.” Equally, most students we spoke to obtained internships in their desired fields while studying at their universities. This may also contribute to choosing your new location, as many students look at getting internships during their time at university. If you are considering a career in technology, you might want to consider a city with a bustling tech scene or a location near one of the largest tech hubs in the world. Locations like Los Angeles are close to the world-famous Silicon Valley. Therefore, if you study at UCLA or any other university in Los Angeles, you may be more likely to get an internship at this global center of technology and innovation.

Tech

As you will be studying computer science and information technology, studying in a city with a reputation for technology and innovation may be an important factor you want to consider. This is one of the reasons why Yiji chose to study in Singapore as he said: “Singapore is a city nation that is extremely optimized as it is always using digital technologies to convert most of its operation into data and storage so we have an insight into how things are running and how things are operating in the country.” He mentioned that a lot of the resources in the country are open-source. “The government allows individuals to actively participate in building solutions for optimization for the nation.” As we have said previously, finding a university in a tech hub or next to a global center for innovation may have far-reaching effects when it comes to your studies, as this could be your opportunity to apply your theoretical knowledge to the world around you.

Parents

Quang Nguyen, an MS Software Engineering student at the University of Melbourne, Australia, told us that his parents partially influenced him when deciding where to study. “In my country, there is a general consensus when choosing which countries to study abroad. The popular ones are the U.S., the UK, and Australia as usually some family friends live and study there, so we have validation when it comes to those countries.” Understanding the country you live in is important during your relocation process. So having that reassurance from a family member or friends can be helpful when choosing your student city. But remember, others should never solely influence your decision to move to a different country or city.

Like our previous article, the city you decide upon depends on you and your needs. Whether you’re looking for a bustling environment with a lot to do or you’re looking to live a peaceful, quiet life while focusing on your studies, a range of options are open to you. We have outlined some factors to consider when choosing your new city. But we have included an outline of baseline factors you should consider when searching for your dream study destination:

  • Universities in the area - you must assess which universities best suit your needs. This could be in terms of the specific pathway (whether that’s a practical or research pathway) or the types of degrees the university offers.
  • Available internships and jobs - when assessing your student city, you want to look at the employment opportunities, internships available, and graduate prospects.
  • Affordability - how affordable or costly the city is may impact your decision to attend university in this area. University is already expensive, so considering a city’s affordability is essential.
  • Community - whether you’re an international student or just moving to a new city, having a community of students will help you feel more settled and connected with your new environment.
  • Tech background - being surrounded by graduate tech prospects will inevitably seep into your university life as this will help you network, gain contacts, and potentially secure a job post-graduation.