An Introduction to University Education in Australia

Australia boasts some of the world’s leading universities, including the Group of Eight, which are a coalition of world-leading research-intensive educational institutions in Australia. An undergraduate degree in Australia takes three or four years and is usually conducted face-to-face in a full-time capacity for international students. Postgraduate qualifications include certificates, diplomas, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. The time it takes to complete a postgraduate qualification ranges from half a year to four years.

The Group of Eight include the following universities:

  • Australian National University (ANU) – Located in the capital of Australia, Canberra, ANU is well-known for its arts and social sciences programs and has some of the world’s best programs in Social Policy, Geography, and Politics and International Relations. It is one of two Australian partner universities of Yale University’s Fox International Fellowship Program, allowing students to undertake graduate research at Yale. It ranked 29th in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • University of Melbourne – Located in Melbourne, Victoria, University of Melbourne was founded in 1853 and is the second oldest university in Australia. University of Melbourne boasts many prestigious alumni and staff, including four Australian prime ministers, five governors-general and eight Nobel laureates. It is one of two Australian partner universities of Yale University’s Fox International Fellowship Program, allowing students to undertake graduate research at Yale. Its strengths include Education, Law, Computer Science, Accounting, Finance, Medicine and Architecture. It ranked 38th in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • University of Sydney – Established in 1850, University of Sydney is Australia’s oldest university and is located in Sydney, New South Wales. An impressive number of notable alumni and staff are affiliated with this institution, including 110 Rhodes Scholars, 19 Gates Scholars and 24 justices of the High Court of Australia. Of all the universities in Australia, University of Sydney offers the most extensive range of degrees and courses. It ranked 42nd in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • University of New South Wales (UNSW) – Located in Sydney, New South Wales, UNSW is also a member of Universitas 21, a global network of research universities committed to exchanging global knowledge, sharing excellence and collaborating across borders. Furthermore, it has international exchange and research partnerships with over 200 universities around the world. This institution’s full-time MBA program ranks among the world’s top 100. It ranked 43rd in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • University of Queensland – Located in Brisbane, Queensland, University of Queensland incorporates over 100 research institutes and centres. It is affiliated with Universitas 21 and edX, a provider of online university-level courses. Its Business Administration, Life Sciences, Mining Engineering and Sports Sciences programs are highly ranked on a global scale. It also has a strong research focus in such areas as Science, Medicine and Technology. It ranked 47th in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • Monash University – Based in Melbourne, Victoria, Monash University is the only Australian member of the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centres, Universities and National Academies. With campuses and centres in five countries, it is the largest university in Australia in terms of student numbers. Its Faculty of Business and Economics is the only one in Australia with the three major certifications of AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA. It ranked 58th in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • University of Western Australia – Located in Perth, Western Australia, University of Western Australia is a core member of the Matariki Network of Universities and the Worldwide Universities Network. The high quality of its undergraduate programs has earned it the rank of the second best in Australia. University of Western Australia has over 80 research institutes and centres and attracts a tidy sum in research funding. It ranked 86th in the QS World University Rankings (2020).
  • University of Adelaide – Established in 1874, University of Adelaide is Australia’s third oldest university and is located in Adelaide, South Australia. University of Adelaide has a long list of illustrious alumni and staff, including 110 Rhodes Scholars and 5 Nobel laureates, which is a third of Australia’s 15 Nobel laureates. Its research strengths include Health & Biomedical Sciences, Agriculture, Environment, Mineral & Energy Resources, Social Innovation and Sensing & Computation. It ranked 106th in the QS World University Rankings (2020).

Australia’s acclaimed 4-star higher education institutions include:

  • University of Technology Sydney (UTS) – Located in Sydney, New South Wales, UTS is Australia’s leading young university and offers over 300 undergraduate and postgraduate courses across its multiple disciplines. Students can also participate in exchange programs at one of the 185 universities in 40 countries that UTS has exchange agreements with.
  • University of South Australia (UniSA) – Based in Adelaide, South Australia, UniSA counts among the world’s top 50 universities under 50 years of history. Its business school has full EQUIS accreditation, a distinction enjoyed by fewer than 200 universities worldwide. It is affiliated with a number of organisations, including Engineers Australia and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the latter having a strong emphasis on promoting and supporting excellence in higher education.
  • Macquarie University – Based in Sydney, New South Wales, Macquarie University is the first Australian university to align its degree system with the Bologna Process, ensuring comparability of its tertiary qualifications with those from most European countries. Macquarie University’s business school was Australia’s highest ranked business school in the 2015 Financial Times MBA ranking.
  • RMIT University – Located in Melbourne, Victoria, RMIT University is the largest dual-sector education provider (i.e. it provides both higher education and vocational education) in Australia. It is the top art and design university in Australia and has branch campuses and teaching partnerships in Asia and Europe. RMIT focuses its research on design, health, globalisation, technology and sustainability.
  • University of Tasmania (UTAS) – Established in 1890, UTAS is the fourth oldest university in Australia and is located in Hobart, Tasmania. It has a strong focus on research. More specifically, its Earth & Marine Sciences and Agriculture & Forestry disciplines rank among the best in the world. It offers courses and programs from over 20 faculties, schools and institutes.
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT) – Located in Brisbane, Queensland, the business school of QUT is accredited by AMBA, EQUIS and AASCB, placing it among the top 1% of business schools globally. QUT has a strong focus on health science research and are a key member of the Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners.
  • Griffith University – Based in Brisbane and Gold Coast, Queensland, Griffith University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across multiple disciplines, including aviation, humanities, science and law. It is known for its MBA courses and research in a miscellany of environmental and health areas.
  • Deakin University – Located in Melbourne, Victoria, Deakin University is one of Australia’s fastest growing research universities with research centres dedicated to molecular research, biotechnology and cyber security, to name but a few. Its MBA courses are ranked among the top in both Australia and the world.


Costs for university courses vary depending on the course and university. Students who have limited English may need to enrol in a university-approved English language course before they can attend university courses.