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The basics
Australia: Destination Guides

Top universities in Australia: Where is best to study?

Use this article to find out where the top universities in Australia are located and what keeps them at the top of the league tables...

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So, you’re thinking about studying in Australia? Great choice. As one of the most desirable study destinations in the world, Australia is world-renowned for the quality of its universities. But what are the top universities in Australia and where are they based? That’s exactly what we’ve chosen to investigate here, to help you make an informed decision about your study plans in the land down under.


First things first, Australia is a vast country with a total of six states namely New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. To give you a better idea of the country’s size, a flight from Darwin in the north to Melbourne in the south will take you four hours, that’s just to get from one city to another. This means that while there are plenty of institutions to choose from, 43 to be exact, this may feel overwhelming. So here we present the top universities in Australia by city and state to help you get to grips with the Australian higher education landscape.


Top universities in New South Wales

Home to Canberra, Australia’s capital city, New South Wales sits on the southeastern side of Australia where you can also find the well-known city of Sydney. According to QS World University Rankings 2021, the top university in New South Wales and the country as a whole is The Australian National University (ANU).


Ranked 31st in the world and 1st in Australia, ANU’s alumni includes six Nobel prize winners and two Australian prime ministers. What’s more, Canberra has also been voted Australia’s most liveable city (REA Group’s annual Life In Australia Index report) based on safety and access to work and education. The city is also described as the ‘bush capital’ for its surrounding national parks and nature reserves.



Moving to the coast of New South Wales, The University of Sydney is another prestigious institution in Australia, ranking 2nd nationally and 40th globally. The university also ranks 4th in the world for graduate employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020). Offering the largest range of disciplines in Australia at 400 programmes, students have plenty of choices when deciding on a study path at The University of Sydney. Want to find out more about some of the most popular courses to study in Australia?


In addition to the high quality of education, the university is also ideally located in one of Australia’s most thriving cities, home to golden beaches, the famous Sydney Opera House, Sydney harbour bridge and plenty of entertainment options for visitors and locals alike.


Another top-performing Sydney-based institution is The University of New South Wales, which is located slightly further out from the city centre in the suburb of Kensington. However, it is just a 30-minute walk away from Coogee beach and near to other popular stretches of coastline.


The university is particularly well-known for its teaching of science and technology and forms part of the Group of Eight (Australia’s leading research-intensive universities). This institution attracts over 14,000 international students to its campus each year and prides itself on being at the forefront of research into pressing world matters such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.


Check out some of the other places you could study in New South Wales:



Top universities in Victoria

Located in the south of Australia, the state of Victoria is home to the internationally recognised city of Melbourne, known not just for its buzzing arts and cultural scene but also the highly esteemed universities. The University of Melbourne in particular ranks 3rd in Australia and 41st in the world (QS World University Rankings 2021).



The institution has a large student body of about 65,000, including 30,000 international students from over 130 countries. This diverse student community is matched by the multiculturalism of Melbourne itself, creating a welcoming environment for foreign students. Want to hear about a student’s experience of studying in Melbourne?


If you are interested in Melbourne for your studies, Monash University is another top-ranked institution and the largest in Australia, placing 6th in the country and 55th globally (QS World University Rankings 2021). Monash takes pride in being at the forefront of innovation and development such as a new malaria vaccine and 3-D printing technology. As a Group of Eight members, the university is known for its exceptional teaching and facilities. Monash was also voted 1st in Australia as Reuters Most Innovative Universities in Asia-Pacific 2019.


Other institutions that you can explore in Victoria are:



Top universities in Queensland

You might not know a lot about Australia at this stage, but you’ve probably heard of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. Queensland is the home of this spectacular natural wonder and hosts five UNESCO World Heritage sites in total. Even if you decide not to study in Queensland, it’s definitely one of the top places to visit in Australia. From rainforests to wetlands and beaches to deserts, Queensland offers an abundance of unique activities and sites to explore, highlighting what makes Australia so unique.



But, where is best to study in Queensland? The University of Queensland ranks 5th in Australia and 46th in the world (QS World University Rankings 2021), making it a top-performing university and another Group of Eight member. There are three Queensland campuses and a student cohort of 53,600, including 18,000 international students from 143 different countries, fostering a diverse and welcoming student community. The University of Queensland is also recognised for its academic excellence and has received more national teaching awards than any other Australian university.


Queensland also boasts several other universities you can take a look at including:



Top universities in Western Australia

Perth is another major city and the riverside capital of Western Australia. This part of the country is known for its natural landscapes and unbeatable weather. In fact, the sun shines down on Perth for more than 1/3 of the year! It is also well-regarded for the quality of its education system. The University of Western Australia in particular is ranked 7th in Australia and 92nd in the world (QS World University Rankings 2021), with campuses in Perth and Albany.



Students can take advantage of being close to the city centre on the main Perth campus while also enjoying the natural beauty of the Swan River and heritage-listed gardens. The main campus is home to 22,000 students who can enjoy the local amenities right on their doorstep such as a student café, hairdresser, pharmacy and ATMs.


After just a 15-minute drive down the road, you will find Curtin University, another Perth-based institution known internationally for its teaching and research. This high quality of instruction has been recognised and ranked five stars by the Good Universities Guide 2019. With strong global ties, the university has campuses in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Dubai. Curtin University ranks within the top one per cent of universities worldwide and has industry connections to help students launch their careers and business ideas.


Make sure not to miss out on some of the other institutions of higher learning in the state of Western Australia:



Want to find a university and course in Australia based on your qualifications and preferences? Let our course matcher connect you to the university of your dreams. Meanwhile, make sure you also follow the latest news for international students looking to study in Australia.

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