Choosing a university in Australia
You should start searching for potential Australian universities you might like to attend about 18 months before beginning your studies, as it can take some time to complete the application process.
First, you should have a good idea what course(s) you would like to study, plus a rough idea of where in Australia you would like to be located. This will help narrow down your choices.
Although most universities in the country are situated on the East coast, you still need to consider whether you would like to be in a big city or a smaller town, somewhere near the sea or further inland, etc.
The best place to find out more information on particular institutions is their website. Most universities have a section dedicated to international students.
This should provide information on student life, accommodation, the admissions process, entry requirements and more.
To help you further, we've put together our own general list of things to take into consideration when choosing a university. We recommend you think about the following factors when making your decisions:
1. Academic excellence
First of all, be sure the courses provided by the institution are of high quality, with an excellent standard of teaching.
You can look at Australian university rankings to see which ones score the highest at Australian-Universities.com.
However, keep in mind that the best universities in Australia according to rankings does not include all the variables that make up an ideal place to study.
All universities have strengths and weaknesses, and although a list of top universities might have greater strengths than weaknesses relative to other institutions, any student who completes a degree at one of these top universities might encounter the 'weakness' when they might have experienced the 'strength' of another university.
2. International student support
It’s worth investigating how good the course is for international students by seeing if the institution has:
- an International Student Program Director
- help with housing
- an orientation to the university, city and Australian education system, and
- advice services specifically for international students.
In other words, make sure that help will always be there when you need it.
A good course will also provide opportunities to meet Australian students and will offer social events and an opportunity to get involved in student activities.
Look at a map on the internet to see exactly where the institution is located and investigate the area it is in.
Consider whether it is a place you would like to live for a prolonged period of time, and the sort of cultural and social activities it offers.
Would you prefer to live in a large urban city, or somewhere more rural?
Find out if your accommodation will be on the campus, and if not, how good the transportation links are.
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to avoid the rain in Australia, as many areas experience rain throughout the year, particularly in the summer (May-August).
However, it is also warm or hot across most of the country throughout the year - even the winters are mild along the southern coasts.
If you are not fond of the heat, you may wish to consider applying to the University of Tasmania, which escapes the very high temperatures that are sometimes experienced in most other areas of Australia.
This is because it is on a slightly different lattitude and therefore has a more temperate climate.
You will also need to take into account financial considerations, as costs can vary greatly from institution to institution.
You will find that your living costs will be more expensive if you attend a university in a big city such as Sydney, and your accommodation is located in the centre.
To save yourself some money, try to find accommodation further out of the city, though make sure transport links are accessible and reliable.
Compare living costs carefully so you can stay somewhere convenient at a reasonable price.
Most Australian universities offer limited financial aid for international students through their financial aid offices, although generally there is much less money available for undergraduate study than there is for graduate study.
Private institutions can sometimes discount or reduce the costs of tuition, though public institutions rarely have this option.
Ask the institution for information on financial aid when you request an application form from their admissions office.
You can read more about funding your higher education in Australia in our finance section.
6. Course content
Go to each university's website and see if the course covers the content you want to learn more about.
If there are particular topics you enjoy, you want to make sure you're going to become an expert on them - you might regret your decision later on if they're not part of the course!
If anything is unclear, contact the university directly and check whether they teach the areas you want to discover more about.
We also recommend you look at the course structure, and find out how you will be assessed and taught. E.g. does the degree programme have lots coursework? or is it more exam-focused? do you need to complete a research project? is there any fieldwork involved? is there an opportunity to go on a work placement?
7. Facilties and social life
The social side of university is a very important part of student life, so it’s important to make sure the range of social, sports and cultural activities and clubs offered by the university fulfil what you're looking for.
In Australia, these are likely to differ slightly to what you would find in the UK, so it's a great chance to try new things.
Taking a degree isn’t all about studying – you need to balance your life as a student with a healthy dose of socialising!
It may take you a little while to find the right balance between working and having fun, but don't worry - you will find your feet eventually.
If you have any friends or relatives who have studied in Australia, it’s worth talking to them to find out about their experiences, and what advice they can offer you in choosing a place to study.
It’s important to research universities and colleges carefully so you choose the ones that will meet your needs and interests – spending time and effort on choosing an institution can ensure you have a successful and rewarding experience.
If you can not find all the information you require about a particular institution on their website, contact them and ask for it.
For more help and advice on applying to university in Australia, please see: