Montreal top for return on study abroad investment

August 08, 2013

The Canadian city of Montreal is the top destination for a return on investment in an undergraduate education overseas, according to new research by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).


The Bank of Communication Sea Turtle Index, produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Bank of Communications Sea Turtle Index, developed for the China-based bank through research by EIU as a guide for parents, compared 80 major cities worldwide and benchmarked: educational returns (40 per cent weighting), financial returns (12.5), real estate returns (12.5), work experience (20) and social experience (15).

Montreal achieved the highest score by this index, and Canada in general ranked highly with Toronto in fourth. London was rated as the second best city for return on study abroad investment, followed by Hong Kong in third.

Explaining Montreal’s position, the report said, “The quality of education at the institutions in the city is important, but Canada’s welcoming immigration policies, offering good opportunities for employment after graduation, also make it an appealing destination. Its comparative openness to foreign investors and its cultural diversity also boost its attractiveness as a destination for international undergraduates.”

In terms of educational returns alone, the UK ranked favourably with Cambridge, Oxford and London taking the top three slots respectively. Indicators in the index included QS university rankings, employer activity, the average cost of an undergraduate degree, cost of living and the range of programmes available. Asia was also prominent with Seoul, Beijing and Taipei taking top ten positions.

Two US cities – Philadelphia and Boston – featured in the educational top ten, but the country in general was hampered by high degree costs, said the report.

Canada dominated the work experience index, which considers the ease of obtaining and length of post-study work rights, job-seeking support, unemployment rates and average wages. The top five cities were all Canadian – with Edmonton coming first – while the next six were Australian. The report said both countries have “progressive, open policies that seek not only to attract students from all over the world, but also give them the opportunity to contribute to the dynamism of their economies”.

For social experience, indexing student ethnicity mix, openness and diversity, cultural attractions and prevalence of crime, three cities tied on the highest indexing: London, Montreal and Zurich. Hong Kong was ranked top for both financial and real estate investment returns.

Asian cities ranked prominently with six cities in the overall top 30, boosted by increasingly high-quality education and openness to investment, said the report, which suggested the continent’s prevalence was a portent of future trends. “What this indicates is that as universities in emerging markets bolster their brand and teaching quality and parents and students become more demanding, traditional and long-established university cities are no longer the only educational options.”

The name of the report was chosen because in Chinese culture a “sea turtle” is a graduate of an overseas university who has reaped the benefits of a global education and is typically coveted by employers upon returning home.

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