Hands on buzzers: which country has pink lakes, more baby turtles than you can shake a stick at, a really, really Big Prawn– and third largest international student population in the world? No prizes for guessing (mainly because it’s too obvious to be classified as a question): this strange and wonderful land is Australia.
Despite being the world’s smallest continental land mass (or, put more positively, largest island), Australia is currently home to over 530,000 international students- and the country’s institutions are keen to push that number higher still. Considering the strictly non-kangaroo-related facts, it’s not difficult to see why this unique land is so popular with those keen to continue their education. Not only are seven of the top 100 universities in the world Australian; the country also boasts an impressive 15 Nobel Prize laureates and a higher education system that ranks 8th in the world, surpassing the UK, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.
And it doesn’t stop there. There’s far more to Australia than baby turtles and Big Things; read on to learn how studying there pays off on numerous levels.
1. Excellence and innovation
Australian education is, put simply, a hot ticket. The approach taken to technical and vocational training ‘down-under’ is recognised globally as being some of the best, most progressive and most career-orientated in the world. Australian universities feature prominently among the top 50 universities in the world for a diverse range of subjects, ranging from Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to Engineering and Physical Sciences.
In addition to this, Aussies are proven to welcome innovation with open arms. Renowned for their willingness to adopt new technologies more rapidly than those from other countries, Australians entered the new millennium with one of the world’s highest rates of internet access and usage. Consequently, universities and colleges across the country host modern, carefully-designed laboratories, classrooms and libraries which are fully-equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology.
2. Internationally recognised, quality-assured degrees
One of the best things about studying at an Australian university only really hits home after graduation: Australian degrees are recognised virtually everywhere, by virtually everyone. Employers and other leading institutions value applicants with qualifications from Australian institutions not simply owing to such qualifications’ excellent international reputation but also because they are covered by the government-authorised Australian Qualification Framework (AQF).
If that doesn’t sound like a sweet enough deal, know that Australia also makes sure that its standards are kept high by taking quality assurance extremely seriously. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA; previously AUQA), Australia’s independent national higher education regulator, provides international students and their parents with comprehensive support and financial protection, reflecting the country’s dedication to ensuring that students, both national and international, have access to an outstanding quality of education.
3. Stress-free visas
Unlike the student visa processes for the UK and USA, which are tainted by tales of toe-curlingly long waiting periods and inexplicable rejections, getting hold of an Australian visa as an international student is remarkably straight-forward. Australia’s streamlined student visa processing arrangements, which are available to any prospective international student with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from a participating institution at bachelor, masters or doctoral level, or any individual applying to a university student exchange of study abroad course, have been in place since March, 2012. Simplified visa processing? Form an orderly queue, please…
4. Best student cities
Nobody mention koalas. Or wombats- and strictly, strictly no fairy penguins. Surprise surprise; there are more reasons to love living in Australia as a student than the wildlife. A bonza (it had to happen at some point) six of the cities featured in the 2014 QS Best Student Cities ranking are Australian, with particular focus falling on Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Such cities score particularly highly in the ‘student mix’ category, which assesses the relative diversity and size of the student community. To cap it all, the 2014 United Nations Human Development Report recently rated Australia as one of the best places to live in the world, second only to Norway. Convinced yet? It’s okay- there’s more.
To ensure that those considering applying to an Australian institution fill out their forms a little faster, it is worth highlighting that the Australian government spends more than $200 million annually on international scholarships. While these aren’t handed out like surfboards in Queensland and are hard work to secure, the opportunities are certainly there for those who meet specific institutions’ requirements.
Oh, and before you go- know that the minimum wage in Australia is 16.88 AUD per hour. Seriously. Compare that to the 7.25 USD offered in the United States- and then start practising your surf-skills and come to terms with the fact that your home-to-be hosts more kangaroos than humans.
Now that you have five good reasons to start improving your Aussie twang, here are six world-class Australian institutions which offer a broad spectrum of courses and host thriving international student communities.
RMIT University has a global reputation for cutting-edge design and technology programs, offering an outstanding range of opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate study and research. RMIT is Australia’s largest tertiary institution and collaborates with many large multinational corporates including Airbus, Audi, Bayer, Bosch, BHP Billiton, BMW, China Power, Alstom, Deloitte, Fujitsu, Siemens, IBM, Linfox, Rio Tinto and United Nations. Read the full profile.
Students searching for government-assured vocational education that will push their university application or CV to the top of the pile need look no further than the ETI (Education & Training International for Western Australia) TAFE (Technical and Further Education) Institutes. The industry-focused skills taught through all TAFE courses help students to bridge the gap between education and employment. For Australians, TAFE is a household name and the nation’s largest provider of Vocational Education and Training (VET). Read the full profile.
An institution dedicated to the pursuit of the extraordinary, the University of Tasmania (UTAS) combines thought, persistence and insight to achieve the highest possible standard of tuition and research. The institution’s ranking in the top two percent of universities worldwide reflects its willingness to confront challenges and achieve excellence constantly. Situated at the heart of one of the world’s most spectacular natural environments, UTAS’ proximity to beaches, snowfields and wilderness encourages its students to think on an altogether larger scale. Whether through its high standard of teaching, research or even unique surroundings, each student is fully trained and prepared to connect with industry and broader society following graduation. Read more about Business, Economics and Arts programmes at UTAS.
Australia’s first private university, Bond is recognised internationally as a leading independent institution, imbued with the spirit required to innovate, the motivation required to influence change and the dedication fundamental to the development of tomorrow’s professionals. Bond offers the lowest student to staff ratio in the country, with consistently small class groups which enable each individual to reap the benefits of one-on-one tuition and mentoring. Home to state-of-the-art facilities, to which all students enjoy unprecedented access, the University encourages all those enrolled to apply their skills as they learn in environments closely akin to those they will encounter within industry. Read the full profile.
Situated in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the Sydney region, TAFE South Western Sydney Institute (TAFE SWSi) colleges offer international students vibrant, supportive environments in which can develop both academically and personally. All English language programs at TAFE SWSi have gained an outstanding reputation not only within the local community but also within the global higher education sphere; each student has the opportunity to tailor their learning experience to meet their individual needs and consult TAFE’s skilled, experienced members of staff who provide world-class tuition and comprehensive guidance.
A world-class institution recognised for continued excellence in teaching and research, The University of Newcastle is dedicated to preparing its students for rewarding careers that allow them to innovate and excel. Ranked among the top 3% of all universities in the world in both the QS and the Times World University Rankings, Newcastle maintains its position within the top 300 of more than 9000 universities. The institution has a track record of producing highly successful, career-ready graduates; an impressive 67% find full-time employment within four months of completing their bachelor degrees, indicating that a qualification from Newcastle is valued across both national and global job markets.