The capital was ranked eighth out of 98 cities worldwide according to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British education services specialist. Munich was the only other German city to make the grade, coming in at 13th place.
Quality and number of internationally ranked universities, as well as affordability were criteria in the QS study, along with quality of life and reputation among employers.
Above Berlin were urban heavyweights Paris and London in spots first and second respectively. Boston, Melbourne, Vienna, Sydney and Zurich came closely behind.
The survey hailed Berlin’s “liberal atmosphere” as well as “the huge variety of interests and tastes,” as being part of the reason the German capital is so popular among students.
Another reason may be the high number of courses offered by the city’s universities which are taught in English, meaning that foreign students flock to Berlin. In 2011, 13,500 of the 84,000 students in Berlin were from abroad.
Lower tuition fees helped cities bag a spot in the top ten, as Paris, Vienna, Zurich and Berlin all averaged under $1,000 per year, compared to $30,000 in the United States.
But Berlin particularly shone when it came down to quality of life and living costs, especially in comparison to pricier European capitals. On average, students were found to be paying thousands less per year in comparison to students in other top ten cities.
And although Berlin is not seen as “an academic hotspot like Paris, London or Boston” by many, the QS “World University Rankings” study named Berlin’s Free University number 66, the Humboldt University number 132 and the city’s Technical University 205 in 2011.
Where the city fell down was regarding reputation and interest from international employers, however, who tended to give preference to graduates elsewhere, the study found.
But students in Berlin can take comfort from the fact that they are in one of the “coolest cities in the world,” which in the last few decades has undergone a cultural revolution, transforming it into an important centre for design music and art exciting enough to rival London and New York.
“Unlike these two cities, Berlin is affordable on a student budget,” the study read.