If you are looking to study in Australia, you’ll need some information about your university options.
There are 35 top universities in Australia, according to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2020, 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 and Hobart in the south.
Top universities worldwide
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 (=32). It is followed by the Australian National University (50), University of Sydney (60), University of Queensland (66) and UNSW Sydney (71).
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 24 million people.
Top 5 universities in Australia
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).
More than 12,000 international students are 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.
Established in 1946, the Australian National University (ANU) was originally created as a postgraduate research university by the Parliament of Australia. It is located in Canberra, Australia’s capital city and seat of government.
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.
Founded in 1851, the University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia.
Currently, 45,000 students attend the University of Sydney, representing some 134 nations. 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.
Sydney is also considered one of the best university cities for students.
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The motto of the University of Queensland (UQ) motto is Scientia ac Labore, which is Latin for “by means of knowledge and hard work” – so be prepared to do some grafting!
UQ has about 39,000 students enrolled, including 12,000 international students from 141 countries. It also has one of Australia’s largest PhD cohorts with about 13,800 postgraduate students registered.
Famous graduates 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. UNSW Sydney
UNSW Sydney was established in 1949.
There are more than 52,000 students at the university, including 13,000 international students from 130 countries.
The university has more than 200 agreements with universities in 39 countries to facilitate student exchanges and research projects.
The university recently launched the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre, which aims to support students to design and experiment with business ideas. The team then helps students turn their ideas into reality through partnerships with commercial companies.
Top universities in Australia 2020
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2020 profile
|Australia Rank 2020||World University Rank 2020||University||City||State/Territory|
|1||=32||University of Melbourne||Melbourne||Victoria|
|2||50||Australian National University||Canberra||Australian Capital Territory|
|3||60||University of Sydney||Sydney||New South Wales|
|4||66||University of Queensland||Brisbane||Queensland|
|5||71||UNSW Sydney||Kensington||New South Wales|
|7||=120||University of Adelaide||Adelaide||South Australia|
|8||=131||University of Western Australia||Perth||Western Australia|
|9||=179||Queensland University of Technology||Brisbane||Queensland|
|10||193||University of Canberra||Canberra||Australian Capital Territory|
|11||=194||University of Technology Sydney||Sydney||New South Wales|
|=12||201–250||Griffith University||Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan||Queensland|
|=12||201–250||James Cook University||Townsville City||Queensland|
|=12||201–250||Macquarie University||Sydney||New South Wales|
|=12||201–250||University of Wollongong||Wollongong||New South Wales|
|=16||251–300||Curtin University||Perth||Western Australia|
|=16||251–300||Flinders University||Adelaide||South Australia|
|=16||251–300||La Trobe University||Melbourne||Victoria|
|=16||251–300||University of South Australia||Adelaide||South Australia|
|=16||251–300||Western Sydney University||Sydney||New South Wales|
|=21||301–350||University of Newcastle||Callaghan||New South Wales|
|=21||301–350||University of Tasmania||Hobart||Tasmania|
|=25||351–400||Australian Catholic University||Sydney||New South Wales|
|=25||351–400||Swinburne University of Technology||Hawthorn||Victoria|
|=28||401–500||Bond University||Gold Coast||Queensland|
|=28||401–500||Edith Cowan University||Joondalup||Western Australia|
|=28||401–500||Murdoch University||Murdoch||Western Australia|
|=28||501–600||Charles Darwin University||Casuarina||Northern Territory|
|=32||601–800||Central Queensland University||Rockhampton||Queensland|
|=32||601–800||Southern Cross University||Lismore||New South Wales|
|=32||601–800||University of Southern Queensland||Toowoomba||Queensland|
|=32||601–800||University of the Sunshine Coast||Sunshine Coast||Queensland|
Read more: Best universities in the world