Quacquarelli Symonds released its 2016 Best Student Cities list. Despite recent events, Paris was ranked No. 1 on the list.
The list is comprised of the top 75 prime urban regions in the world for students abroad. The cities are ranked based on five categories: university rankings, affordability, student mix, desirability and employer activity.
Consideration for ranking requires the city to have a population of at least 250,000 and have at least two universities in the area. Various attributes are also assessed, such as whether an institution contributes to the attractiveness of the city.
According to calculations, only about 116 cities actually meet this standard.
This is Paris’ fourth year to top the charts for best student city. Paris is home to 18 universities and is home to many world-leading institutions. Its continuous hold on the No. 1 spot has largely contributed to its universities’ international prestige, despite the recent terrorist attacks it faced.
Although it continues to hold the top spot, is Paris still safe for international students and study abroad in the aftermath of terrorist attacks?
Several universities with students abroad responded to the recent terrorist attacks by immediately sending students back home. Furman University had a program in Brussels and was among the many to evacuate students from Paris. Brussels’ program officials decided it was in the students’ best interest to cut the program short since they could not attend classes or internships because of recent terrorist activity.
Other universities, such as Winston University in Winston- Salem, North Carolina, sought confirmation of their students’ safety by sending out mass emails to identify the whereabouts of students.
Many universities are developing emergency protocols and promoting safety for their students abroad.
Although the dangers of studying abroad in Paris are potentially extreme, it will not stop students like Amber Smith from chasing her dreams.
“I believe that Paris will continue to be ranked highly for study abroad simply because of its history,” Smith said. “The recent attacks in Europe will affect the eagerness to travel abroad period, but there will continue to be people, like myself, who will still jump at the opportunity to experience Europe through these programs.”
Smith plans to study abroad in Paris in the spring and claims the recent terrorist attacks had zero impact on her decision to study abroad. She believes people cannot live life in a “what-if world” based on tragedies that can occur anywhere in the world. Smith said she feels safe in the hands of the university and disregards any belief that the supervisors would put her or any student in danger.
“Are there dangers with studying abroad?” Smith said. “Yes, but there are also dangers of getting in a car every day.”
Smith plans to be safe by staying with groups and friends with whom she will travel. She will also be alert and listen to her advisors on safety protocols.
Audrey Kelly, another USM student studying abroad in Paris next semester, also believes that the ranking of Paris as the best student city should still apply regardless of recent terrorist attacks.
Kelly said that due to the recent attacks on Paris, she believes many travelers are hesitant to visit France. However, her decision to study abroad in Paris was made after the terrorist attacks had occurred.
“I believe the experience will still be just as beneficial as it would have been before the terrorist attacks,” Kelly said. “I feel safe traveling to France because of the increase in security in response to the terrorist attacks that occurred recently and the measures taken to prevent such actions from occurring again.”
Like Smith, Kelly plans to keep in close contact with people in the program, listen to the advice of her supervisors and closely monitor news outlets to ensure protection for herself and her peers.
For more information about the QS Best Student Cities list, visit the top universities website. For more information about study abroad programs at USM, visit the fourth floor of the International Building.