Canberra has cracked the top 20 best cities for students in the world.
The 2016 QS Best Student Cities ranking, announced on Tuesday, has placed Canberra at 17 - up four spots from 21 last year and up 20 spots from 37th in 2014. Canberra is the third Australian city to get a place in the top 20 after Melbourne, in 2nd place, and Sydney in 4th.
It comes after Vienna (16th place) and before Auckland (18th), Brisbane (19th) and New York (20th).
At least two universities in a city must have a QS World Ranking to make the list.
In September, UC climbed more than 100 places in the 2015-16 QS World University Rankings to the 551-600 category and last week UC acquired its third world ranking in a year, placing in the QS's top 100 "young" universities in the world.
Meanwhile, the ANU placed in the coveted top 20 top universities in the world in QS's September global league table – coming equal 19th alongside the King's College, London.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said "universities are critical" to Canberra's future economic growth.
"As the world's most liveable city and with both our major universities making their mark in world rankings we have plenty to offer students from Australia and around the world," he said.
"The government is committed to growing Canberra's higher education sector and this is another step towards that goal."
The news comes as no surprise to ANU student Paige Mewton, who called Canberra the happy medium for students, "big enough to be interesting but small enough to not be overwhelming".
The ACT is one of seven Australian cities to make the top 70 this year, alongside Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide (26th), Perth (35th) and the Gold Coast (69th).
Like all of the Australian entries, Canberra scores very well in the "student mix" category, reflecting its large and internationally diverse student population. It was found to have 6.2 per cent of its population at either ANU or UC and 29 per cent of those students were international.
Canberra was always first choice for international ANU student Andre Nogales, when he moved from Ecuador.
"It has nice architecture and is a well-designed city, and there are a lot of new businesses that cater to the younger population, so it's fast paced and that's what I like," Mr Nogales said.
With rankings including a range of national factors, including cost of living, environment and government accountability - all of which Australia rated highly on - the ACT proved to be the cheapest option of the Australian top 20.
While Sydney's average tuition fees came in at $27,100 and Melbourne's came in at $23,800, Canberra tuition costs were averaged at $21,200 - with this affordability rating contributing to its ranking rise.
Cheaper fees and living costs were what deterred University of Canberra student Nik Felding from his original plan to leave Canberra and study at UNSW.
"But we have also opened up so many niche bars and nice restaurants. People don't realise how much there actually is to do here," he said.
This "desirability" factor was Canberra's second strongest score, and while the QS guide noted it was "one of Australia's few major settlements which is not within walking distance of the beach, Canberra does have plenty of natural attractions – including its own (man-made) lake right in the city centre, and numerous nature reserves all around".
Before Georgina Ims, 20, came to the capital from Tasmania for ANU's engineering degree, she was sceptical of what had been dubbed the "boring city". But she soon discovered its convenient travel time, buzzing social life and great food.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young was delighted to see Canberra reach number 17.
"The ranking is great recognition for Canberra as an education and research destination, but no surprise for those of us who call this city home.
"Canberrans can be proud of their city, and proud that it offers a great experience for students from around Australia and around the world."
UC Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker was proud the UC had helped boost the nation's capital rise in the rankings of top student cities worldwide, through its own ascent in the global standings.
"As Canberrans we know what a great place our city is to live and study in," he said. "It's fantastic to see that more students from around the world think so too.
"Education is essential to Canberra's future and attracting international students to our city is crucial to that future. This ranking will really help bring in more international students.
The UC also announced on Tuesday it was partnering with the Australian-American Fulbright Commission to offer an annual Fulbright Senior Scholarship for a US citizen to undertake research at the University of Canberra for four months.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Frances Shannon said "The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the world and this new scholarship will enable exceptional senior scholars from the US to undertake relevant research at the University," she said.
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