Australian cities are among the most attractive study destinations in the world according to a report released today by rankings provider QS (Quacquarelli Symonds Limited).

Using scores that take into account student mix, affordability, quality of living and employer activity, as well as their own QS World University Rankings, the company has compiled a top fifty list of the 'Best Student Cities'.

Universities Australia Chief Executive, Belinda Robinson, said "Australia has more cities than any other country in the world listed in the top ten, making it one of the world's most favourable study environments according to QS.

"This is an outstanding result for Australia and reinforces what most Australians and others already know; Australia is, by world standards, a great place to pursue a university education.

"Australia's higher education system is consistently rated as among the world's best and our university cities are vital to Australia maintaining its strong reputation. If 'affordability' is removed as a criterion, Melbourne and Sydney would be ranked at number 1 and 4 respectively.

"While it may be a little more expensive to live and study in Australia, the quality of living, employment opportunities, student mix and the quality of universities makes Australia a very appealing place for those seeking to study abroad.

"The international education sector is Australia's third largest export industry, and over the 2010-11 period international higher education students spent an average of $38,000 each in this country on goods, services and fees. This highlights how valuable the contribution is, particularly at a time when other economic inputs such as tourism are suffering.

"Recent Government initiatives such as visa reforms will certainly assist in arresting the decline in international student enrolments. However as the QS affordability index suggests there is more still that can be done to ensure Australia remains an attractive and competitive study destination.

"The introduction of nationally consistent public transport concessions along the lines recommended by COAG, for example, would be one such initiative to assist this outcome," said Ms Robinson.