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The basics
Australia: Career Prospects

Famous alumni from Australian universities

Australia remains a hugely popular choice for international students. It’s no surprise considering the global impact that alumni from institutions in the country have made. We explore some prominent figures.

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When you’re considering your future, it’s good to know that people have taken the same path and made a real impact in the world. Taking inspiration from alumni and their stories is a good way to motivate yourself and understand what it takes to be a successful student. We look at famous and well-known alumni who have studied at universities in Australia and what they’ve achieved, from politicians to scientists.

 

The University of Sydney 

 

Located in the world-famous city of Sydney, the University of Sydney is ranked in the top 50 universities globally and number three in Australia, by the QS World University Rankings 2023 (QS). With a 150-year history, the university has produced its fair share of well-known alumni including, eight Australian Prime Ministers. They’re all part of an alumni community of over 400,000 students worldwide. 

 

Dr Anna Lau 

 

Dr Anna Lau is a world-renowned expert in diagnosing fungal and microbial diseases. She received her PhD in medicine from the university and is now a fully accredited and board-certified member of the American Board of Medical Microbiology in the USA. Dr Lau was noted for her exceptional work in combatting Ebola and made the Forbes Magazine list of “30 Under 30” for her contributions to healthcare. 

 

Taufa'ahau Tupou IV

 

Royalty has also called the University of Sydney home. Taufa'ahau Tupou IV was the king of the Pacific nation of Tonga from 1965 until his passing in 2006. This makes him the fifth longest-reigning monarch in history. He studied for a law degree at the university, before serving as both Minister of Health and Minister of Education in Tonga. 

 

Akhilesh Yadav

 

An Indian politician, Akhilesh Yadav is known for being the youngest Chief Minister in the history of the Indian government. He studied an undergraduate degree in civil engineering before specialising in environmental engineering at the University of Sydney. He is now a member of the State Assembly in India and is known for his progressive policies on social welfare and service provision. 

 

Dr Victor Chang

 

Dr Victor Chang was born in China and grew up in Hong Kong before pursuing his medical studies in Sydney, where he specialised in cardiology. He trained and worked in the USA and the UK before returning to Australia to practice. He is considered a pioneer of heart and lung transplants, including developing an artificial heart valve. Dr Chang was also instrumental in setting up the National Cardiac Transplant Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital. 

 

Discover what makes Australia such a unique study destination.

 

The University of Melbourne 

 

The University of Melbourne is one of Australia’s premier universities, based in one of the country’s most liveable cities, Melbourne. The institution is placed second in Australia and 33rd in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2023. Similarly, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022 (THE) ranks the university at number one in Australia and within the top 50 worldwide. The university is also the second oldest institution in Australia, having been founded in 1853. 

 

Julia Gillard 

 

The first and only woman to hold the position of Prime Minister in Australia, Julia Gillard studied for a Bachelor of Laws and then a Bachelor of Arts degree at the university. Before moving into the world of politics, Gillard was a practising lawyer specialising in industrial law. Other positions Gillard has held in government include Minister of Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and Minister for Social Inclusion. 

 

Professor Ian Frazer

 

Another inspiring figure from the world of medicine is Prof. Ian Frazer. He was born in Scotland and first studied at the University of Edinburgh, obtaining a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He then moved to Australia, where he studied for his doctorate in medicine at the University of Melbourne. Frazer is known for his work on HIV, identifying that immunodeficiency in patients was being caused by the virus. He is also world-renowned for developing a vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV) along with Jian Zhou. 

 

Pallavi Sharda

 

A star of the silver screen, Pallavi Sharda is also a graduate of the University of Melbourne. She studied for her Bachelor of Arts and LLB degree at the institution and was awarded her degree with honours. Sharda has become a household name after starring in numerous Bollywood films throughout her decade-long career. She has also starred alongside Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman in the Oscar-winning film Lion

 

Find out how you can apply for a post-study work visa in Australia.

 

The University of New South Wales (UNSW)

 

The University of New South Wales is a global top 50 university according to QS (2023) and ranked in the top five in Australia. THE place UNSW in the world’s top 100, meaning that it's in the exclusive club of the best one per cent higher education institutions globally. UNSW has achieved a great deal in its relatively short 70-year history, and it is home to almost 64,000 students and has an alumni community of over 300,000 students. 

 

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

 

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum pursued a bachelor’s degree in law at UNSW, followed by a master’s degree in the same subject at the University of Hong Kong. He has occupied high political office in his home country of Fiji, including the position of the attorney general, Minister for Economy and Minister for Justice. He has also served as the acting Prime Minister of the country. 

 

Bob Bellear

 

Bob Bellear holds the distinction of being the first judge in Australia of Aboriginal descent. He was known for both his exceptional legal mind and social activism. Bellear studied for his LLB at UNSW and was admitted to the New South Wales bar in 1979. Before becoming a judge, he worked as a lawyer and criminal barrister. Bellear was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Macquarie University.  

 

Clive Finkelstein

 

Very few people are ever named as the inventors or originators of an idea that shapes the world. Clive Finkelstein is a UNSW alumnus who did just that. Graduating from the university with a BSc in Computer Science, Finkelstein was a pioneer in the field of information engineering, developing the concept during the 1970s and 1980s. 

 

Read more about the top five graduate careers in Australia.

 

Australian National University  

 

Considered to be the top university in Australia by QS and in the second spot by THE, The Australian National University is located in Australia’s capital city of Canberra. The university boasts the highest number of Nobel Laureates amongst staff and alumni in Australia and is known for its pioneering research. This research strength is shown by its membership in the International Alliance of Research Universities. 

 

Dr Mari Pangestu 

 

Dr Mari Pangetsu has an enviable reputation in the field of economics and politics. She currently works as the Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships at the World Bank and has previously occupied the position of Minister of Trade for Indonesia. Born in Jakarta, Dr Pangetsu studied her undergraduate and master’s degree in economics at Australian National University and subsequently obtained a PhD from the University of California at Davis, USA. 

 

Jennifer Robinson 

 

A double degree graduate in law and Asian studies from the university, Jennifer Robinson has become a notable figure in international human rights law, a legal specialisation. She is known for being part of the legal team that defended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and for her work assisting activists in West Papua. Robinson also received a Bachelor of Law and master’s degree in international public law from the University of Oxford. 

 

Cheong Choong Kong 

 

Cheong Choong Kong is a well-known and prominent business leader in Malaysia and Singapore. He has worked as the chief executive of Singapore Airlines, and as a professor of mathematics at the University of Malaya, before beginning his business journey. Kong received an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Adelaide before studying at Australian National University for his master’s degree and a doctorate in the same subject. 

 

Alumni from Australian universities have enjoyed successful and high-profile careers, proving the value of an education in Australia. If you’re interested in finding out more, read our guide to applying to study in Australia, the cost of living in the country, and how to apply for a visa in Australia

 

 

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