7 Top-Ranked Australian Universities for International Students

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An illustrated map of Australia featuring photos of international students living and working there.

As 2024 begins, we’re highlighting some Australian universities recognized by two prestigious lists: Times Higher Education’s (THE) World University Rankings 2024 and Australia Financial Review (AFR)’s Best Universities Ranking – 2023. If you’re a future international student who’s thinking of studying in Australia, these seven top-ranked Australian universities are great options.

ApplyBoard can help you find a course that matches your goals, organize your documents, and prepare you for arrival, all on one platform. Try it for yourself today!


The Group of Eight

No discussion of top-ranked Australian universities is complete without the Group of Eight (Go8). These research-intensive universities can be found at or near the top of most post-secondary education institution rankings. They regularly sit in the world’s top 150, in lists from QS World University Rankings to THE’s World University Rankings. Domestically, many Go8 universities score well on AFR’s Best Universities Ranking.

The Group of Eight members are:

In 2022, Group of Eight universities educated 425,000 students. That’s over 25% of all higher education students in Australia. That same year, one in three international students in Australia chose a Go8 university. So, these prestigious institutions are definitely worth a closer look!

Want to learn more about Group of Eight universities? We’ve featured many of them in past Top Universities in Australia posts.

However, below we’re going to think outside of the box. We’ve featured seven universities that rank among the world’s top 250, per the 2024 THE World University Rankings list, with some of their rankings, courses to consider, and distinctive features. Read on to get the inside scoop! 


Short on time? Click the links below to jump ahead.

  • University of Technology – Sydney
  • Macquarie University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Curtin University
  • University of Newcastle
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • University of Wollongong
A multistorey, modern plate glass building, lit up by vertical green lighting, on a street corner in Sydney. (U of Tech Sydney)

Image Credit: Robertsky, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

University of Technology – Sydney

Rankings

Ranked at #148 by THE, with a research quality score of 95.9 out of 100, University of Technology – Sydney (UTS) is known for its excellence in fields like data science, artificial intelligence, and robotics. 

UTS was also ranked Australia’s #1 young university (#9 globally) in THE’s 2023 Young University Rankings. On the Young University list, less weight is given to reputation compared to the main THE list, but the same 13 performance indicators, like teaching, research, and international outlook, are used. 

Course Spotlight

Research at UTS focuses on six areas: health, future industries, sustainability, infrastructure, communities, and interdisciplinary innovation. So, for international students with a drive to excel, especially in STEM, UTS is a strong contender. Plus, by tying at seventh on AFR’s Best Universities Ranking (with the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong) UTS’ strengths in research performance, student satisfaction, global reputation, career impact, and equity are recognized domestically, too.

Distinctive Features

Industry partnerships give students at all levels the ability to leverage their skills in work-integrated learning opportunities. In fact, UTS’ focus on practice-based learning extends to campus communities like UTS Startups, where current students and alumni learn from one another while working on startups at all stages of growth. Moreover, with a main campus in the TechCentral business area (the startup capital of Australia), grads are well-positioned to network with other innovators. Since its 2018 launch, UTS Startups has supported over 1,000 startups—could yours be next?

Data science and cybersecurity were at the top of our list of technical skills to develop in 2024. Find out what else made the cut on our blog.

 

A large library with multicoloured walls (Macquarie University Library).

Image Credit: Macquarie University, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Macquarie University

Rankings

Macquarie University ranks at #180 in 2024’s THE global rankings. International students from over 100 countries join a student body of over 44,000 on a campus home to Australia’s most high-tech library, and Australia’s first non-profit hospital on a university campus.

Course Spotlight

Macquarie is a great fit for those who want to specialize in arts and humanities, as the university ranks #32 in the world in arts and humanities. Want to study education and education research, environment and ecology, psychiatry, or psychology? These courses also made the global top-100

All research at Macquarie is ranked at world standard or above, and five of the university’s researchers are in the top 1% of researchers in the world. Students at all levels benefit from a collaborative learning experience, and grads enjoy an employability rate that’s in Australia’s top-10.

Distinctive Features

Macquarie is located in the Connect Macquarie Park Innovation District, surrounded by offices of over 300 companies in one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest business hubs. This sets students up to network with and participate in industry partnerships with world-leading companies during their studies. 

Macquarie is also only 15 kilometers from Sydney’s central business district, and on-campus metro and bus stations connect students to this global city. (Average transit time is around an hour; driving takes 20-40 minutes.)

 

A tall, green-glass and steel building sits at the back of a university quad; modern art and deciduous trees are in the front of the image.

Image Credit: Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Queensland University of Technology

Rankings

With its industry partnerships, applied research approach, and celebrated teachers (132 winners of Australia Awards for University Teaching since 2000), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) comes in at #199 on THE’s 2024 global rankings and #24 on AFR’s list. Practical, hands-on learning is a key part of QUT’s courses. For example, of the 2022 graduating class, 98% had completed either international or work-integrated learning opportunities.

Course Spotlight

Want to pursue business or management? QUT has the first Australian business school to earn ‘triple crown’ accreditation from the European Foundation for Management Development, the Association of MBAs, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. 

Other courses, including Communication and Media Studies (#1 in Australia and #38 worldwide), Nursing (#17 globally), and Engineering – Mineral and Mining also rank among the world’s best, per ShanghaiRanking of Academic Subjects 2023.

Distinctive Features

QUT offers classes in two urban campuses in Brisbane, with fields ranging from creative industries to law, and science to education. Stuck between options? Consider a double degree, where you’ll combine two bachelor degrees into a single course, and graduate with two qualifications. Or, check out their Match My Skills quiz for general course inspiration.

Sustainability is an important goal at QUT. It’s built solar farms, installed composting bins, and tracks carbon emissions and energy use. In fact, since 2018, energy consumption has dropped by 21% and 36% less waste is sent to landfills. International students interested in sustainability can get involved through action groups, events, or related research projects.

Help your new community thrive: here are our top tips for living sustainably while studying abroad.

 

Curtin University's medical school and School of Design, as seen from the far side of University Boulevard at sunrise.

Image Credit: Orderinchaos, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Curtin University

Rankings

Founded in 1967, Curtin University has grown beyond its main campus in Perth to include campuses from Mauritius to Malaysia. Even so, it has a competitive student-to-staff ratio of 20.8 to 1, which means more personal connection with faculty, and smaller classes with livelier discussions. Curtin fits into THE’s 201–250th place cohort on a global scale. On THE’s Young University Rankings, it sits at #37 worldwide.

Course Spotlight

At the postgraduate level, Curtin University researchers work with over 70 research centres, from the Space Science and Technology Centre to the Centre for Crop and Disease Management. Field-leading projects in hydrogen storage and liver cancer research are also ongoing. 

However, excellence is multidisciplinary at Curtin: its chemical engineering, civil engineering, education and education research, energy and fuels, geosciences, physical chemistry, and public health courses all ranked in the world’s top 100 in 2023.

Distinctive Features

International students connect in their first semester with a student mentor. They’ll help you meet other students and get used to life on campus. Plus, multi-faith services, accommodation coaches, and other campus offerings help you both find a home and feel a little more at home in Australia. After graduation, Curtin grads top the charts in Australia for employer satisfaction, per a 2022 survey by QILT (Quality Indicators for Learning and Training).

Interested in studying at Curtin University, but need to level up your qualifications? Join the 12,000+ students who have prepared for a bachelor’s degree right on campus at Curtin College.

 

A red light-rail train pauses in front of a University of Newcastle building on its City Campus.

Image Credit: MDRX, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

University of Newcastle

Rankings

As a research-intensive university focused on engagement, equity, excellence, and sustainability, the University of Newcastle (in THE’s 201–250 global cohort) welcomes students from around the world. On AFR’s 2023 list of the best Australian universities, it tied at #15, on par with the University of Sydney, Swinburne, and Macquarie University, with a top-10 “career impact” sub-ranking.

Course Spotlight

Many of the University of Newcastle‘s courses and research address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings, which measure tangible work done by institutions towards the SDGs, Newcastle ranked #6 worldwide for Sustainable Cities and Communities, and #1 in Australia for working towards No Hunger. These achievements landed it in the world’s Top 30 universities for impact.

Given the university’s focus on the world’s health, it’s no surprise multiple health-centric courses score highly: both public, environmental and occupational health, and agricultural science courses are in the world’s top 140 offerings, per U.S. News and World Report. Agricultural sciences, economics and business, environment and ecology, and genetics are also in the top 200.

Distinctive Features

Ready to go? You’ll develop a resume to impress any employer with work experience built into the 100+ undergraduate courses or 85+ graduate degrees open to international students. 89.8% of undergraduates and 93.3% of Newcastle postgraduates are employed within four months of graduation. On average, grads earn higher salaries than the Australian average. 

Plus, Newcastle and the Central Coast areas of Australia are more affordable than most major cities in Australia, which means less stress about finances—and more time for your studies!

Why study health science in Australia? From globally-recognized degrees to strong community impact and career growth, there are lots of reasons.

 

A tall glass building with a sloped roof is framed by red and green leaves on Swinburne's Lilydale Campus in Australia.

Image Credit: SwinburneUniversity, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swinburne University of Technology

Rankings

Swinburne University of Technology is ranked in the 201–250 cohort in the 2024 World University Rankings, #43 in the Young University Rankings, and tied for #15 in Australia per AFR. With guaranteed internships, paid work placements, or industry-linked projects included in every bachelor’s degree, Swinburne students are set up for success. 

Course Spotlight

Swinburne excels across fields, but shines brightest in electrical and electronic engineering, where it sits amongst the world’s top 50 courses. Civil engineering, general engineering, computer science, optics, and space science courses all make the world’s top 100, too, per U.S. News and World Report.

Want to study at Swinburne, but need to take preparatory classes first? Swinburne University of Technology Academy offers a variety of foundational courses. There, international students receive extra guidance to ease into living and studying in Australia. Plus, with smaller classes, you’ll have more chances to connect with instructors. And classes are on the main Swinburne campus in Hawthorne, which makes it easier to join campus clubs or events.

Distinctive Features

Lastly, while technology might be in this institution’s name—and with investments like its Smart Structures Laboratory for structural engineers in its Advanced Technology Centre, it’s not hard to see why—it’s not all that Swinburne excels at: its design school is in the world’s top 150.

Read our blog on how university rankings work. We’ve got tips for how you can use them when deciding where to study! 

 

Mid-20th-century brick buildings sit on a green university quad at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Image Credit: JVPurvis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

University of Wollongong

Rankings

The University of Wollongong (UOW) in Wollongong, New South Wales, ranks in the top 250 in THE’s 2024 World University Rankings, and AFR scored it #7 in Australia alongside the University of Melbourne and University of Tech – Sydney. 

Course Spotlight

UOW takes pride in its medical research, partnering with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District for research projects and hands-on training opportunities. It’s one of hundreds of active partnerships with over 150 universities, corporations, organizations, and government bodies that UOW maintains. Meanwhile, budding entrepreneurs can participate in UOW’s business accelerator program, iAccelerate. After graduation, UOW grads’ futures are bright: employers rate its grads among the best in Australia.

UOW courses that rank among the world’s top 50:

  • Condensed matter physics (#18)
  • Energy and fuels (#33)
  • Materials science (#26)
  • Mechanical engineering (#23)
  • Nanoscience and nanotechnology (#24)
  • Physical chemistry (#13)

Distinctive Features

Curious about Wollongong? Locals love this South Coast city for its cultural scene and natural beauty. Lots of students learn to surf or swim at local beaches. UOW’s students come from over 160 different countries, and benefit from a wide range of scholarships.

Support doesn’t stop there: because arriving in a new country can feel dizzying, eligible international UOW students can request a free airport pickup service from Sydney’s airport. You’ll go right from arrivals right to your new home in Wollongong.


Two international students studying abroad.

These top-ranked Australian universities have a lot to offer future international students. We hope this list has helped you narrow down which ones best match your academic goals!

Ready to find a course that matches your goals? ApplyBoard can help you find the best options, organize your application, and get you ready to land, all on one platform.

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