There are 37 public universities in Australia, two private universities, and a number of other specialized higher-education institution. Amongst these universities, seven are ranked amongst the top 100 in the world by QS World University Rankings. Such universities are competitive with high-ranking schools in other English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, and England.
Universities in Australia
The University of Sydney is Australia’s oldest university and also a member of the “Group of Eight”, a coalition of universities comprised of Australia’s most prominent and respected universities. Other Go8 universities include: The Australian National University, The University of Adelaide, the Monash University, The University of Melbourne, The University of New South Wales, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, and the University of Western Australia. These schools are spread throughout the country, and all eight schools have primary campuses in Australia’s six largest capital cities. Most of the public colleges and universities in Australia offer certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs.
Included in Australia’s tertiary education alongside traditional colleges and universities are Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and Vocation Education and Training (VET) providers. These colleges and providers primarily offer certificate courses, but also offer some undergraduate degree programs.
A Year in the Life of a Student in Australia
Most universities in Australia are on the two-semester system, offering courses in 14-20 week increments with short breaks in the winter and summer. Many schools also offer optional short summer semesters. Students either live on or off campus during the semesters depending on schools requirements and students’ preferences.
Most undergraduate degree programs in Australia require four years of full-time study to complete, while graduate degree programs typically require two to six. The amount of time it ultimately takes to complete a program depends, of course, upon how many classes students take per semester, and whether or not students take additional courses over summers.
Many universities in Australia require international students to earn a certain number of credits each semester, so international students should ensure they are able to fulfill a school’s requirements prior to enrolling.
Universities in Australia are English-language schools. This means that international students from non-English speaking countries will likely need to take the TOEFL to prove that their English-language literacy is strong enough for college-level academia.
Paying for University in Australia
Attending university in Australia means taking advantage of one of the most developed and respected educational systems in the world. However, while Australia’s higher education institutions are of high quality, they are also amongst the most expensive in the world. Add to the cost of tuition the costs of book, room, and board, and the cost of attending college in Australia is quite high.
Also, while the Australian government offers numerous programs to Australian citizens and permanent residents to make the cost of attending school affordable, it does not offer loans or fee-reduction schemes to international students. International students typically pay full tuition or “out-of-state” tuition, and often times have to prove prior to enrolling that they can pay for school.
However, many tertiary institutions in Australia offer scholarships to qualifying international students to help tame the high costs of education. These and other forms of financial aid—from your own government, private organizations, and non-profit and non-governmental organizations, for example—can help pay for your education in Australia, if you qualify.
Accreditation in Australia
The performance of tertiary education institutions in Australia is assessed by two entities: the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). Both modes of assessment are relatively new and measure schools’ processes, procedures, and documentation. TEQSA and ERA are operated by the Australian government and authorize public universities to self-accredit. Schools that are not self-accrediting are accredited by States and Territories. Prior to attending university in Australia, it is important to confirm that the school of your choice is accredited, and that its credits will readily transfer to other schools of your choice.