Best universities in Australia 2017

Find the best universities in Australia with Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data
July 4 2016

If you are looking to study in Australia, then you are going to need a little information about your university options.

There are 35 top universities in Australia, according to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2016-2017, and six of them feature in the prestigious top 100, meaning there is no shortage of choice.

The best Australian universities are spread across the country, from Perth in the west to Brisbane in the east, Darwin in the north to Hobart in the south.


Resources: top universities worldwide

 Best universities in Europe
 Best universities in the UK
 Best universities in the United States
 Best universities in Canada
– Best universities in Asia
 Best universities in South America


The best university in Australia, according to the THE rankings, is the University of Melbourne – one of two universities in the country to make the top 50 of the overall world ranking (33). It is followed by the Australian National University (47), the University of Sydney (=60) and the University of Queensland (=60).

Australia has the third highest number of international students in the world behind the UK and the US – pretty impressive for a nation of just 23 million people.


Essential reading: advice for international students choosing a university in Australia 


Top 5 universities in Australia

1. University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne was founded in 1853, making it the second oldest in the country (keep reading to find out the oldest).

It is home to 47,000 students and 6,500 members of staff, and has 280,000 alumni around the world (some 15 per cent of whom live outside Australia).

There are more than 12,000 international students enrolled at the University of Melbourne, and if you do get a place there, you will be joining students from 130 different countries.

You will also be rubbing shoulders with some pretty famous scholars. Nobel prizewinner Peter Doherty (physiology and medicine) and fellows of the Royal Society David Solomon and David Boger all teach or research at Melbourne.

2. Australian National University

Established in 1946, Australian National University (ANU) was originally created as a postgraduate research university by the Parliament of Australia.

It counts six Nobel prizewinners among its faculty and alumni, and is even run by a Nobel laureate. Brian Schmidt, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics (with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess) for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, is the institution’s vice-chancellor.

More than 22,500 students chose to study at ANU in 2015. Almost 5,000 of these students live on the campus, making for a tightknit community.

3. University of Sydney

The University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia (founded in 1851).

Currently, 52,000 students attend the University of Sydney, representing some 134 countries. About 280 overseas exchange programmes are in place with more than 30 countries.

No fewer than five Australian prime ministers attended the university, including Edmund Barton, who, in 1901, won Australia’s first ever federal election.

According to the AT Kearney’s Global Cities Index, which ranks the world’s most popular cities to study in, international students put Sydney ahead of 83 cities at the top of the pile. 

– Looking for a job in finance? Sydney could be a good location for you!

3. University of Queensland

[!The University of Queensland!]’s (UQ) motto is Scientia ac Labore, which is Latin for “by means of knowledge and hard work” – so be prepared to do some grafting!

In 2015, UQ had 50,836 students enrolled, including 12,666 international students from 141 countries. It also has one of Australia’s largest PhD cohorts with about 13,800 postgraduate students registered.

Famous former students include a Nobel laureate, two Fortune 500 company CEOs, Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush and poet Bronwyn Lea.  

The university’s main campus is located in the green and leafy inner Brisbane suburb of St Lucia – one of the most affluent areas of the city. 

5. Monash University

Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria, is named after engineer and military leader Sir John Monash, and it was the first university in Australia to be named after a person rather than a place.

The university, which has about 47,000 undergraduates and a further 20,000 graduate students, has five bases in Victoria, as well as one in Malaysia. Monash also has a research and teaching centre in the Italian town of Prato, a research school in Mumbai, India, and a grad school in Jiangsu Province, China.

Famous alumni include musician Nick Cave, Booker Prize-winning novelist Peter Carey, and playwright David Williamson. 

Top universities in Australia 2017

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2016-2017 results

Australia Rank World University Rank 2017 University
1 =33 University of Melbourne
2 47 Australian National University
=3 =60 University of Queensland
=3 =60 University of Sydney
5 74 Monash University
6 =78 University of New South Wales
7 125 University of Western Australia
8 142 University of Adelaide
=9 201-250 University of Newcastle
=9 201-250 Queensland University of Technology
=11 251-300 Charles Darwin University
=11 251-300 Deakin University
=11 251-300 Griffith University
=11 251-300 James Cook University
=11 251-300 Macquarie University
=11 251-300 University of South Australia
=11 251-300 University of Technology, Sydney
=11 251-300 University of Wollongong
19 301-350 University of Tasmania
=20 351-400 Flinders University
=20 351-400 La Trobe University
=20 351-400 Swinburne University of Technology
=20 351-400 Victoria University
=24 401-500 University of Canberra
=24 401-500 Central Queensland University
=24 401-500 Curtin University
=24 401-500 Murdoch University
=24 401-500 RMIT University
=24 401-500 Western Sydney University
=30 501-600 Bond University
=30 501-600 Edith Cowan University
=30 501-600 Southern Cross University
=30 501-600 University of the Sunshine Coast
=34 601-800 Australian Catholic University
=34 601-800 University of Southern Queensland

Resources: explore the rankings by subject

- Best universities for arts and humanities
- Best universities for life sciences


Reader's comments (1)

There are some additional universities below these rankings - this may confuse some readers. Australian Catholic University, University of the Sunshine Coast, Bond University, Charles Sturt University, Federation University, Victoria University, University of New England.

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