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The Guardian (Reprinted)
Great institutions and openness help city retain top spot ahead of rivals such as Tokyo and Munich.
London remains the best city in the world to be a university student, according to an international ranking of higher education centres that placed it ahead of rivals such as Tokyo, Boston and Berlin.
The capital retained top spot for the third year running despite low marks for affordability, thanks to the presence of world-leading institutions such as Imperial College and King’s College London, and high ratings for its openness to international students and graduate career opportunities.
Munich came second, while Tokyo and Seoul were tied for third place ahead of Berlin, Melbourne, Zurich and Sydney. Paris, Montreal and Boston tied for ninth place.
The city rankings created by the education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds are based on its own league tables as well as surveys of 85,000 current and prospective students around the world. They cover cities with a population of at least 250,000 and two or more universities placed in the QS world university rankings.
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The best UK universities 2021 – rankings
Current students studying in London rated the British capital very highly for “outstanding cultural, economic, and educational opportunities”, although the city was only rated 15th – below Auckland and Montreal – for desirability among prospective students.
Ben Sowter, QS’s director of research, said: “With two of the world’s 10 best universities situated in the city, London remains a world-leading educational hub. However, increasing Covid cases and lingering Brexit effects may serve to undermine London’s privileged position.”
Elsewhere in the UK, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester made the top 30 out of the 115 eligible cities. Coventry did extremely well for “student mix”, ranked second only to Melbourne for the proportion of domestic and international students in the local population, as well as tolerance and inclusion.
The highest-ranked US centre was Boston, thanks to the proximity of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. But US cities suffered from high affordability, with Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco the worst overall based on cost of living, tuition fees and the Economist’s “Big Mac” index, which uses the local cost of the hamburger as a proxy for relative costs.
QS also noted that US cities “are suffering from a systemic decline” in their desirability ratings, which includes metrics such as pollution, crime, safety and corruption as well as a student survey.
The most desirable city in which to study was Tokyo, followed by Toronto and Zurich. Boston could only manage 26th, while Durham, North Carolina – close to the high-ranking University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University – was 85th.
Monterrey in Mexico and Almaty in Kazakhstan were rated as the least desirable places to study. The most affordable centre was the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, ahead of Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan in Russia
The Guardian’s picture editors select photo highlights from around the world.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the country’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was deposed on 1 February, triggering a mass uprising of daily protests and a nationwide civil servants’ boycott. As journalists are not officially allowed to report from the country, the photographers’ names have been withheld
A roundup of the coverage on struggles for human rights and freedoms, from Cambodia to Peru
The Guardian’s picture editors select photo highlights from around the world
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Festive season usually last four months but this year as well as the pandemic there have been three strong storms.
he strains of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer echo around a popular shopping mall in Quezon City, Manila. A band of mechanical snowmen, dressed in Santa hats, sway back and forth to the music, as shoppers – socially distanced – browse stacks of baubles and Christmas lights.
In the Philippines, a majority Catholic country, festive preparations are well and truly under way already. The country has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.
This year festivities will inevitably be different. On top of a ban on gatherings, and restrictions on church attendance, the economic impact of the coronavirus has left millions without work. The country has also faced three strong typhoons over recent weeks, including Vamco, which has killed at least 67 people as well as causing devastating flooding.
Some are torn over whether to put up their decor or “tone down” celebrations given the difficulties facing the country, according to Ambeth Ocampo, a historian and author.
For others the challenges of 2020 make it especially important to celebrate Christmas, even if the usual shopping sprees and parties are not possible. “We are still thankful because our family is complete. As long as we are together we’re OK,” said Nancy Endeno. “Our Christmas tree is up. I’m here to buy additional decorations,” she said, as she haggled with other shoppers at the side street stores selling parols – a traditional, and pricey, Philippine Christmas lantern.
Sato Laxa, who runs a shop on Granada street in Manila, sold 10 lanterns on Saturday afternoon. Sales are not as good as previous years but he is happy to be selling at all.
“We started getting buyers in September although we weren’t selling much. Sales have been very good lately,” Laxa said. Shoppers can pay anything from P3,000 (about £47/US$60) to P9,000 for the multi-coloured lanterns.
It is not clear why Christmas celebrations start so early in the Philippines, and it hasn’t always been this way, according to Ocampo. “Traditionally, Christmas started with the nine-day Misa de Gallo – literally Rooster Mass,” he said, referring to nine dawn masses leading to Christmas. “There is no cultural or religious reason for the long Christmas,” he said, but it may be a commercial ploy to encourage people to begin their shopping early.
Others say the extended festivities are unsurprising given Filipinos’ love of celebrations – there are 19 public holidays this year and a fiesta for each of its 146 cities and 1,488 municipalities.
The Christmas season traditionally ends on 6 January with the feast of Three Kings, “but some people extend beyond that to Chinese New year or even Valentine’s to keep the decor up and keep a festive mood”, said Ocampo.
Laxa is optimistic that people will still find a way to celebrate over the coming months. “Problems do not stop Filipinos from celebrating Christmas,” he said. “Be it a pandemic or typhoons, we manage to recover.”
Photographer Callie Shell documented the Obamas at home in Chicago, on the campaign trail and in the White House. Her new book shares candid images from the 10 years she spent photographing the family. Hope, Never Fear is published by Chronicle Books.