Best universities in Australia 2018

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

September 5 2017
The University of Melbourne - the top ranked institution in Australia

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 2018, 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.


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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 (48), University of Sydney (61), University of Queensland (65) and Monash University (=80)

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

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 42,000 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.

3. University of Sydney

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

Currently, 42,000 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.

Sydney is also considered one of the best university cities for students. 


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4. 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!

UQ has about 38,000 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 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 44,000 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 2018 

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2018 profile

Australia Rank 2018 World University Rank 2018 University City State/Territory 
1 32 University of Melbourne Melbourne Victoria
2 48 Australian National University Canberra Australian Capital Territory
3 61 University of Sydney Sydney New South Wales
4 65 University of Queensland Brisbane Queensland
5 =80 Monash University Melbourne Victoria
6 85 University of New South Wales Kensington New South Wales
7 =111 University of Western Australia Perth Western Australia
8 =134 University of Adelaide Adelaide South Australia
=9 201–250 James Cook University Townsville City Queensland 
=9 201–250 Queensland University of Technology Brisbane Queensland
=9 201–250 University of South Australia Adelaide, Whyalla, Mount Gambier South Australia
=9 201–250 University of Technology Sydney Sydney New South Wales
=13 251–300 Griffith University Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan Queensland
=13 251–300 Macquarie University Sydney New South Wales
=13 251–300 University of Newcastle Callaghan New South Wales
=13 251–300 University of Wollongong Wollongong New South Wales
=17 301–350 Charles Darwin University Casuarina Northern Territory
=17 301–350 Deakin University Geelong Victoria
=17 301–350 Flinders University Adelaide South Australia
=17 301–350 University of Tasmania Hobart Tasmania
=17 301–350 Victoria University Melbourne Victoria
=22 351–400 University of Canberra Canberra Australian Capital Territory
=22 351–400 Curtin University Perth Western Australia
=22 351–400 La Trobe University Melbourne Victoria
=25 401–500 Murdoch University Murdoch Western Australia
=25 401–500 RMIT University Melbourne Victoria
=25 401–500 Southern Cross University Lismore New South Wales
=25 401–500 Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn Victoria
=25 401–500 Western Sydney University Sydney New South Wales
=30 501–600 Australian Catholic University Sydney New South Wales
=30 501–600 Bond University Gold Coast Queensland
=30 501–600 Central Queensland University Rockhampton Queensland
=30 501–600 Edith Cowan University Joondalup Western Australia
=30 501–600 University of the Sunshine Coast Sunshine Coast Queensland
35 601–800 University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba Queensland

Read more: Best universities in the world 

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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