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The best countries to send your children to university

Stephane Tajick

Last updated: September 23, 2022

The best countries to send your children to university

For many, a good education is the backbone of a successful life. When one becomes a parent, the quality of education becomes central to many of the household decision. When buying a new house, questions such as “does this neighbourhood has a good school” are primordial. For those wealthy enough, that question can extend beyond the nation’s border. In many emerging countries, it has become extremely popular to send your kids to study abroad in the best universities.

The elite has also used those 3-5 years of education abroad to get a 2nd citizenship for the whole family in the process. The process used is called residency and citizenship by investment. These are economic policies setup by countries to attract foreign capital. A foreign citizen will invest in the country and receive residency or, in some rare cases, citizenship. Not many countries offer citizenship by investment and none in our list do, but all of them offer a residence by investment program which can lead to becoming a naturalized citizen after a few years. This process is very important as it’s first security for the family in case of instability back home, but also can often many more doors for business and leisure.

When looking at the best countries to choose from to send your kids to, we have selected only the English speaking countries. Sending your children to study in Korean, for example, might not be an option. Every year, we publish the STC University City index using the QS University Ranking. We add important information to the QS ranking such as annual cost and acceptance rate. As such a well-rated university will lose points in our index if they are very expensive and very selective. In the end, what’s the point of choosing Harvard if your kids can’t get into the university.

#5 Canada

Canada has 3 major cities ranked towards the top of our city ranking: Toronto at #14, Montreal at #19 and Vancouver at #21. These are due to the 3 top universities in the country being the University of Toronto, McGill University in Montreal and UBC in Vancouver. These 3 universities are in the world’s top 50 universities, but what makes them gain points is their relative academic accessibility: any good student should get in. The cost for a year for an international student is rather high at roughly 30,000 USD. Per child, budget at least 100,000-150,000 USD for the length of their studies. Permanent residents and citizens pay a fraction of that amount which has led many wealthy foreigners to make the smart decision to gain permanent residency as an investor or entrepreneur in the country. They are programs only accessible to an individual with a certain amount of wealth but all the funds invested in the country can be recuperated. Furthermore, the other main benefit is that it only takes 3 years to qualify for citizenship in Canada. Meaning the whole family could gain Canadian citizenship by the time your child graduates from university. Given the fact that Canada is viewed as the most tolerant country in the world towards foreigners over the last decade’s hundreds of thousands of wealthy families have applied to the Immigrant Investor Program. It was such a popular route into Canada that today, the Quebec Immigrant Investor program has thousands of applications in the backlog waiting to get processed. It might take you 4-6 years before your application is processed and you receive permanent residence. This is why now most have diverted towards the Immigrant Entrepreneur Programs which can get you in Canada in only 6 months.


#4 Australia

Australia’s temperate climate is often viewed as a dream destination by many, even in the developed world. The top city in our index is Sydney in #9, followed by Melbourne in #13 and Brisbane in #25. Australia’s highest-rated university in the QS Ranking is in Canberra, but the University of Sydney, UNSW Sydney, the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne are also very well rated. That said, these top universities are not necessarily easy to get into and at an average of 30,000 USD a year. But the great thing is that Australia has so many good universities in those 3 cities that moving to one of them makes a lot of sense.

Australia offers many different residence programs to foreign investors and entrepreneurs. But unlike Canada, they only provide temporary residence rather than permanent residence. You will need to hold that temporary resident visa a few years before you are eligible for permanent residence and later citizenship. During the period of time you hold a temporary resident permit, you are to pay tuition fees as an international student rather than a local at a fraction of the rate. Nevertheless, it hasn’t deterred many from applying to the Australian Investor Stream. The approved applicant can apply for Australian citizenship after 6 years of residence.


#3 Singapore

Singapore is a fascinating place where many different cultures coexist. Always high up in quality of life index due to its extremely low crime rate, world-class infrastructures and education system. The city-state actually ranked #6 in our City University ranking. It has 2 very highly rated universities: the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University. The cost of attending those two universities is roughly 14,000 USD a year for international students. These two universities are pretty selective but still rather accessible to a good student. Singapore has definitely many great advantages if you decide to send your children to study there. Many are using the Global Investor Programme to gain permanent residence in the country, which could lead to citizenship after only 3 years of residence. The process is fast and efficient, but there are 2 important things one needs to consider. First is that permanent residence does not lead you to lower tuition fees, only citizens pay local fees which is roughly 40% lower. The second, and most important point, is that Singapore has mandatory military service. This applies to every son of citizen and permanent residents. This can be a deal-breaker for many but keep in consideration that if you have daughters they won’t be affected by it and if you make your son the “investor” instead of yourself, he will not have to enlist. Of course in that last one, only your son will gain permanent residence in the country and you will have to make a separate application for yourself.


#2 United States of America


The USA is home to the 4 best universities in the QS World ranking, two of them located in Boston: MIT, Stanford, Harvard and Caltech. Now if you think your choice is made by knowing that, please be aware that these 4 universities are extremely selective and unless your children are one of the top students in their region, they most likely shouldn’t even bother to apply. Many have made the mistake to move to Boston in the hope their child to go to Harvard or MIT, just to end up going to lowly-ranked Boston College instead for the same price. Let’s not forget, US Private universities are the most expensive in the world, costing roughly 55,000 USD a year. The strategy in this case would be to look for quality and academic accessibility such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison or the University of Washington.

Many foreigners make it their dream to send their kids to the US to study in one of their prestigious universities. The US EB5 Investor Visahttp://globalresidenceindex.com/usa-eb5-investor/ has in the last decade become the most popular investor visa in the world, with the number of applications surpassing its 10,000 annual visa cap. Many wealthy foreigners used it to get residency in the US to gain a Green Card and citizenship after a few years. The popularity of the program has led processing time to reach unsustainable lengths for certain countries such as China. Certain operational changes were made, but most applications, wherever their origins, will have to wait a few years in line before their application can be processed. If you are from one of the dozens of countries that have signed an E-2 treaty with the US like Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt or Pakistan you could apply for an E-2 Investor visa. That visa will let you reside in the US and the process is not long contrary to the EB5. The disadvantage of the E-2 is that it’s a non-immigration visa and you will need to apply to another program if you desire to settle permanently into the US. Nevertheless, those who are very wealthy tend to prefer it as it protects them from US taxation on your worldwide income.


#1 United Kingdom

London is our #1 city in our University City Index with a dozen highly rated universities like the Imperial College, the University College and the King’s College. Furthermore, many prestigious universities are only a few hours away from London like Oxford and Cambridge. Acceptance to one of the top universities is far from easy and the top schools are rather selective. But they are less pricey than their US counterpart and relatively academically accessible universities can be found in London, just not the top ones. As an international student, each year will cost roughly 24,000 USD. Locals pay 40% less than an international student on average.

The UK is also home to the UK Tier 1 Investor program which provides residence to investors. After 5-6 years, the holder can become a British citizen. The application process is pretty fast and is the investor visa favoured by the elite. Those that apply to it can also enrol into the non-domiciled taxation scheme, which protects those deriving their wealth from foreign income, to be taxed on the amount they remit into the UK only.


The Global Residence Index has the most extensive database on the world’s residence and citizenship programs. Our purpose is to provide information, feel free to contact us if you need more. If you need professional help, let us know and we will direct you toward a trusted expert in your area.

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