If you are looking to study in Australia, you’ll need some information about your university options.
There are 37 top universities in Australia, according to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2021, 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 – the only university in the country to make the top 50 of the overall world ranking (30). It is followed by the University of Sydney (=51), Australian National University (59), University of Queensland (=62) and Monash University (=64).
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 which one is 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 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.
Founded in 1851, the University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia.
Approximately 46,000 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.
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.
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4. University of Queensland
The motto of The University of Queensland (UQ) 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 40,000 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.
Monash University was founded in 1958 and is the largest university in Australia. It was named after the engineer, military leader and public administrator Sir John Monash.
Students can choose from more than 6,000 courses across 10 faculties: art, design and architecture; arts; business and economics; education; engineering; information technology; law; medicine, nursing and health sciences; pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences; and science.
The university has many campuses across Victoria and Australia as well as international campuses in Malaysia, Italy, India and China. It operates several libraries at all its campuses, housing more than 3.2 million items in total.
Famous alumni include musician Nick Cave, Booker-winning novelist Peter Carey, and playwright David Williamson.
Top universities in Australia 2021
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2021 profile
Read more: Best universities in the world