07/17/2013 11:48 EDT

BOCOM Sea Turtle Index: Montreal Tops List of Best Cities To Attend University


Montreal has been ranked the best city in the world for foreign students and wealthy investor-parents looking for the biggest bang for their buck, according to a new index by one of China's biggest banks.

Bank of Communications, China’s fifth largest bank by assets, recently teamed up with Economist Intelligence Unit to create a guide targeting "families with enough cash on hand to consider a college education abroad for their kids," according the Wall Street Journal.

The Bank of Communications (BOCOM) "Sea Turtle" Index (a reference to a Chinese nickname for high-flying expat graduates) ranked 80 key cities on a scale of 24 indicators including potential educational returns, financial returns, real-estate-related returns, work experience and social experience.

"Montreal offers a highly attractive combination of world-class education options along with a culturally vibrant and socially diverse landscape, and is also one of the safest cities covered in this index," says BCOM.

"Real estate investment prospects are positive, with steady growth in prices along with a low-fee, low-taxation environment for foreign investors. Canada welcomes graduates to stay on job-seeking for up to 3 years, though opportunities may be somewhat limited in Montreal due to a fairly high unemployment rate and only modest GDP growth."

Toronto also ranked highly, in the fourth spot, following London and Hong Kong. Rounding out the top 10 where Cambridge, Oxford, Boston, Sydney, Zurich and New York — not a bad showing for Canada considering all of the Ivy League competition.

In other notable lists of the world's best universities, Canada barely makes the top 20.

Canada welcomed a record number of international students last year, with more than 100,000 — an increase of 60 per cent from 2004.

The data for the study was collected in February and March, through both primary and secondary research.

The study was a hit on Reddit, though some commenters questioned the legitimacy of the research. "Well, Junior's off to University; I'd better buy him a condo in the city of his choice!" quipped user mycroft2000.

Others wondered how Montreal could be be No. 1 after last year's mass student protests in Quebec.

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