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Australia: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Gold Coast

Gold Coast is an Australian icon and offers students the chance to study in an international holiday destination famous for its incredible surf and nightlife.

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Gold Coast is a city on the east coast of Australia known for its golden beaches, silver skyscrapers and the great waves in Surfer’s Paradise, its most famous neighbourhood.


It’s no surprise that it’s become a popular destination for international students. When you aren’t going to class at one of its excellent universities, you might find yourself anywhere from a hip cafe to one of many pumping nightclubs if you’re not surfing!


With a population of over half a million and its location near Brisbane, Gold Coast is a fantastic place for you to explore Queensland from. 


Though it’s known as a party town, there’s lots more to Gold Coast than meets the eye. Hidden coves and quiet beaches are just a short journey each way along the water’s edge, and the region is home to passionate foodies and fresh, local produce. Like many regions in Australia, Queensland boasts an incredible wine scene and you’ll be able to sip the year’s best in sunny vineyards.


Turn inwards towards the country’s interior, and you’ll find vast national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, as well as a rich Indigenous culture that goes back thousands of years.


With a reasonable cost of living compared to Australia’s capital city and an excellent coastal lifestyle, Gold Coast is a great choice for international study.


Find out how you can apply to study in Australia


What is Gold Coast like?


Location and demographics


Gold Coast is a city on the coast of Queensland, a short way south of Brisbane. Its skyscrapers sit just a few metres away from the shining sand and blue waves of the Pacific Ocean. Each way up and down the coast is an endless number of beautiful beaches, coves, and cliffs to explore. Inland lies a range of subtropical forests which give way to the bushlands and deserts of the interior. 

Gold Coast is a diverse city, with just under a third of its 550,000 strong population being born overseas. In addition, just over half of residents had at least one parent born abroad.


Culture and history 


The area in which Gold Coast now stands has been inhabited for thousands of years and is the traditional home of various indigenous clans belonging to the Yugambeh people.


European settlers began to settle the area in 1823, originally due to the supply of good timber wood that was in the area. It was originally named South Coast, and the city gained its modern name due to the high cost of property and services there. What was originally an insult became the official name in 1958!


The area has continued to thrive as a tourist destination ever since, benefitting from its excellent beaches and entertainment-focused industry. It hosted the commonwealth games in 2018 and is now the sixth most populated city in Australia.


Get ready for studying in Australia with our guide to understanding Australian English


What universities are in Gold Coast?


Gold Coast attracts thousands of international students a year who choose to enrol at one of the city’s prestigious universities. It has three universities that have achieved rankings among the best universities in the world according to QS World University Rankings 2022.


Griffith University hosts more than 8,000 students and is rated 290th in the world by QS 2022. The university is a research-intensive institution that has a reputation for excellent teaching and has recently invested over AUD 100 million into providing its students with world-class facilities.


Bond University also calls Gold Coast home, and the institution is Australia’s largest private university. It offers many students the chance to complete a bachelor’s degree in two years and specialises in law, business, and psychology courses.


You could also choose to study at Southern Cross University, which is particularly well-known for its MBA. The university has a wealth of regional and national industry connections and passes the benefits of these relationships and its expert staff to students. This can help with a successful graduate career.


Explore more universities in Australia


What does Gold Coast offer students?


What is transport like? 


You’ll benefit from a well-designed transport network in Gold Coast, allowing you to get across the city or to other parts of Queensland in no time. TransLink operates an integrated network of buses, trams and trains that can all be accessed using the Go Card. You can hop on a train and be in Brisbane within 90 minutes or head to Gold Coast Airport to catch a flight to cities around Australia or the world.


What entertainment and food is there?


Gold Coast is famous when it comes to nightlife and entertainment. The city is known for its party atmosphere, and the number of pubs, clubs, bars, casinos, and shows is dizzying. You’ll never run short of things to do at any time of day or night. If you’re not into parties, there are plenty of excellent shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy too.


What accommodation is there?


You’ll have a lot of accommodation to choose from as a student in Gold Coast. As well as high-quality campus accommodation offered through your chosen university, various private companies operate sociable, well-equipped halls of residence. There are also private rentals you could consider, though these might be a little more challenging to secure.


What public services are there? 


In addition to robust support services from your university, the Australian government also seeks to help overseas students have the best time possible in Gold Coast. You can make use of associations like the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), which work to represent the interests of international students and provide various services and resources to help them thrive.


Get a better understanding of the higher education system in Australia.


How much does it cost to study in Gold Coast?


The general cost of the city


Gold Coast is a great city for student living as it offers a fantastic lifestyle in the sun, which is more affordable than other cities like Sydney and Melbourne. You can expect it to be around the same cost as living in Brisbane, if not a little less. You’ll certainly be able to stretch your student budget through careful choices.


Read more on the living costs for students in Australia


Student budget


As a single international student living in Gold Coast, you might expect to pay between AUD 500 and AUD 1,100 a week depending on your lifestyle and habits. This estimate includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and most other living costs. 


Interested in finding out what tuition costs in Australia?


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 starting your studies in Australia. This is equivalent to AUD 1,753 per month or about AUD 405 a week.


If you're looking for financial aid, you can explore some of the top scholarships in Australia


What are the attractions in Gold Coast?


Gold Coast is one of the premier tourist destinations in Australia, popular with both international and domestic visitors. So, it’s no surprise that there’s a great array of attractions to enjoy during your studies.


The city is most well-known for its glamorous skyline, where glass skyscrapers, hotel blocks and luxury apartments tower above the golden sands of Surfer’s Paradise. You could easily spend every day on this beach, learning to surf in some of the best conditions worldwide.


An endless number of bars, clubs and other party environments are available for you to explore, meet and socialise with other international students and visitors. During the day, designer boutiques, organic health food and relaxed beachfront bars make Gold Coast a great place to relax and soak up some sun.


Outside of the city, the Gold Coast region is also home to several theme parks known around the country. In addition to wildlife reserves, rainforest walking trails and even more beautiful beaches to explore.


With over 300 days of sun a year and a warm sub-tropical climate, along with excellent surfing, long golden beaches, and a thriving party scene. It’s hard to think of reasons not to study in Gold Coast. Find the course of your dreams in Australia using our course matcher tool


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