Many people look back fondly on their time at university, and it is usually one of the most important period of your life, not only in your personal development, shaping your career, and in making lifelong friendships. Australia has 43 universities (40 Australian universities, two international universities, and one private specialty university) and there are also a number of other institutions offering tertiary qualifications. Many of them offer the same or similar degree programmes so how can you choose which is the best place for you?
The Programmes Available
Of course, it is important that the university you want has the course you are want to study and that your qualifications meet the programme’s entry requirements. Look at the details of the programme including the different units you have to study, the units you can choose to study as electives or by combining subjects in double degrees / double majors. Look at extra-curricular opportunities like internships or special features and facilities linked to the programme, for example the Super Lab at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
The Super Lab at the University of Technology Sydney
Lots of programmes provide facilities for students of any discipline looking to gain experience in work or to become more entrepreneurial, such as maker spaces (like this are UNSW), entrepreneur clubs or incubator spaces like the Design Factory at Swinburne University. Although the programme names might be the same every course will offer different possibilities and you will want to make the best of them for you.
Rankings are useful of course but you should be careful not to rely too much just on rankings. Firstly, all the universities in Australia are regulated by the government through a range of Quality Assurance processes, including strict laws around education for international students, so you can be certain you will get a quality education at any recognised university in Australia. Secondly rankings are big business and many universities invest time and resources in making their position as high as possible, and they are all doing this, so as with any subjective measure they depend on the statistics used to compile them. Do consider the different rankings, as there are several, and look at the various subject rankings as well as the overall university rankings. This can make things confusing so as an example Deakin University is ranked No.16 in Australia and No.271 in the world in the QS World University Rankings but is ranked first in the world for Sports Science in the ARWU 2017.
|Australia Rank||Global Rank||University|
|1||31||Australian National University, Go8|
|2||40||University of Sydney, Go8|
|3||41||University of Melbourne, Go8|
|4||44||University of New South Wales (UNSW), Go8|
|5||46||University of Queensland, Go8|
|6||55||Monash University, Go8|
|7||92||University of Western Australia, Go8|
|8||106||University of Adelaide, Go8|
|9||133||University of Technology Sydney (UTS)|
|10||196||University of Wollongong|
Top 10 Australian University Rankings by Qs World University Rankings 2021
Australia is a very big country and many, but not all, of the universities are concentrated in the main cities, but it is often most convenient to fly between cities due to the distances involved and this will make a difference if you plan to spend time with friends studying in different cities. Also the cities are all different, including the climate and cost of living will vary from city to city, and of course the student experience.
The Type of University
All universities are a little bit different but there are some general characteristics you can consider. One common difference is the campus and its location. For example if you look at Melbourne you can see some universities being located across numerous buildings in the city centre, like RMIT University or Victoria University, or a campus near the city centre, like the University of Melbourne. Others may be on campuses in the suburbs, still well connected by public transport, for example Monash University, Deakin University, Swinburne University of Technology or La Trobe University. Each will have a different feel and of course will have a range of accommodation options. You will need to think about what feels best to you and what are the implications of your choice, especially with accommodation options, cost of living and transport options. The Times Higher paper even published a ranking of the 10 most beautiful Australian universities in 2018
Picture of the University of Sydney, one of the most beautiful university in Australia
The Size of the University
Some universities in Australia are very big with Monash University being the biggest with over 60,000 students and others are much smaller with 10,000 or less students like Bond University with around 6,000 students.
Other things to look at
- Clubs and Societies – of course there are lots of extracurricular activities such as sports clubs of other social and cultural societies. The student led spaces and services can differ from place to place but the Central Hub at Adelaide is a good example of this
- Support – students may need all kinds of different support during their time at university so check out the range of services available
- Careers support – look at what help the university can provide to students looking for work either during their study or after graduation – for example help writing resumes, preparing applications or interview practice as well as networks and list of job vacancies. For example look at the Careers service page at RMIT who even offer students a free professional headshot photo for student’ online profiles
There are lots of things to think about but we are happy to help you ask the right questions and find the best place for you.
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