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The basics
Australia: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Brisbane

From UNESCO rainforests to rooftop restaurants, Brisbane can offer you a truly Australian experience with subtropical weather and affordable living.

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Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, otherwise known as Australia’s Sunshine State. This beautiful metropolis is home to a vibrant and culturally diverse population, with more than 20 per cent of its 2.2 million population born outside of Australia.


It’s a popular city for students from around the world looking to study in Australia, with several world-renowned universities to choose from alongside a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and communities to experience.


Brisbane is a great student city to choose if you’re looking to experience some of Australia’s most impressive natural features, as it acts as the gateway to wonders like the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Daintree Forest, and the Great Barrier Reef. The city offers an attractive blend of outdoor living, access to Australia’s natural treasures and an endless list of things to do or see.


With a low cost of living compared to other Australian cities, more sunny days than any other Australian state capital and an excellent reputation for safety, Brisbane is one of the country’s most popular choices for international students.


Brisbane is home to three prestigious universities, so you’ll be able to find a wide range of study options across a wide range of subjects and the opportunity to graduate with an internationally valued qualification.


What is Brisbane like?


Location and demographics


Located about halfway up the eastern coast of the country, Brisbane enjoys being significantly closer to the rest of Asia than other state capitals on that side of Australia.


As a Brisbane resident, you’ll be able to reach an incredible variety of beaches and other coastal landscapes in no time. You’ll also be at a convenient mid-point between the tropical rainforests of northern Australia and the bustling cities of Melbourne and Sydney to the south.


Brisbane is known for its diversity, with more than a fifth of its residents born outside Australia and over 15 per cent of them speaking languages other than English when at home.


This diversity contributes to a fantastic city culture where different nationalities and cultures come together in exciting ways. World cuisine, cultural festivals and a vibrant student community are just some of the things you’ll find when you arrive.


The culture and history of Brisbane


Brisbane was originally the home of the Jagera and Turrbal Aboriginal clans before European settlement from 1824. The area has always been a focal point for activity due to its unique blend of natural features and prime location.


Brisbane remains attached to its Aboriginal history, respecting and celebrating its Aboriginal communities and offering unique cultural experiences throughout the city.


The city flourished in the 20th century, putting itself firmly on the map by hosting the 1982 Commonwealth games and the 1988 World Expo. Brisbane has continued to grow and now competes with other Australian capitals, like Sydney and Melbourne, due to its flourishing arts and music scene.


What universities are in Brisbane?


If you choose Brisbane as your home while you study abroad, you’ll be able to study choose from some of ten different campuses across six Australian universities. It’s home to three internationally famous institutions where many international students choose to study.


The University of Queensland is a world-renowned higher education institution with a reputation for excellence in research and teaching. It’s ranked 47th in the world (QS World University Rankings 2022), and hosts over 22,000 international students.


You’ll be able to choose from 116 different undergraduate or over 200 postgraduate courses there. It’s the most highly awarded university in Australia for teaching, and its degree certificates are respected around the world.


Queensland University of Technology is a progressive university, where you’ll be able to get an industry-focused qualification and develop the skills you’ll need to succeed in a modern world. Impactful interdisciplinary research, a network of international alumni and cutting-edge facilities are just some of the things you’ll find there.


Although Griffith University is based in the nearby Gold Coast, it has a campus in the south of Brisbane which offers a range of study options. This prestigious university has established its reputation as a fast-growing and ambitious institution, having placed in the top 50 universities worldwide within 50 years of being founded (QS World University Rankings: Top 50 Under 50, 2021).


Discover more universities in Australia.


What does Brisbane offer students?



Brisbane has a great network of public transport including trains and buses, as well as ferries that travel through the heart of the city via the Brisbane River. You’ll be able to use a TransLink Go Card to use across all public transport, which can be bought and loaded with cash at airports, train stations or some shops. The city’s airport allows you to easily reach other parts of the country easily, or welcome visitors from anywhere in the world.


What entertainment and food is there?

Brisbane is home to an incredible array of food and drink options across the city. Whether it’s international dining, hand-crafted coffee, or a genuine Aussie pub, you’ll be able to find everything you could want.


With plenty of fresh, locally sourced goods from the surrounding regions and warm weather for much of the year, al-fresco and rooftop dining are always on the menu.


Brisbane is home to a thriving arts scene and has a particular reputation for live music, which can be found all over the city. Brisbane’s South Bank area is a particular hub for entertainment, with 17 hectares of beautiful parkland, galleries, restaurants, event spaces and more.


What accommodation is there?

Brisbane has lots of different living options for you to choose from during your time there, ranging from residential student complexes near your campus to private rentals in local neighbourhoods. Many universities have support teams dedicated to helping you find your perfect living arrangement.


What are the public services like?

As an international student, you’ll be well looked after by your university and the Australian government. Dedicated student associations like the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) represent the interests and values of overseas students studying different courses across the country.


How much does it cost to live in Brisbane?


General cost of the city

The cost of living in Brisbane is generally lower than the other major cities in Australia, meaning your money will go a lot further.


Student budget

As a single person living in Brisbane, your average student budget might range between AUD 400 and AUD 1,000 per week. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other living costs.


Financial requirements

The Australian Department for Home Affairs asks international students to demonstrate that they can access a minimum of AUD 21,041 per year before they can start their studies in Australia. This is equivalent to AUD 1,753 per month.


What are the main attractions in Brisbane?


River cruises, relaxing on a man-made beach in the centre of the city, touring famous breweries and feeding kangaroos are just some of the things you could do with a day in Brisbane.


As well as having many things to do and see in the Sunshine City, you’ll be able to find all sorts of activities just a short journey away in other parts of Queensland. There are five different UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can get to from Brisbane, including the largest sand island in the world and the subtropical Gondwana rainforests, all brimming with wildlife.


No visit to eastern Australia could be complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most famous natural sites in the world. As a student in Brisbane, you’ll be able to fly over the reef by helicopter or dive in the reef between your studies, or even on a weekend break!


With some of the best universities in Australia, a low cost of living and a delightfully warm subtropical climate, Brisbane is a premier choice when it comes to international study. Remember, you can find your perfect degree in Australia using our course matcher


Study in Australia


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