• Study subjects that you wouldn't have access to in the UK. Photo credit: The University of CanterburyStudy subjects that you wouldn't have access to in the UK. Photo credit: The University of Canterbury
  • The University of Sydney Great Hall. Photo credit: The University of SydneyThe University of Sydney Great Hall. Photo credit: The University of Sydney
  • Volleyball tournament on the beach. Photo credit: Griffith UniversityVolleyball tournament on the beach. Photo credit: Griffith University
  • University of Melbourne campus. Photo credit: The University of MelbourneUniversity of Melbourne campus. Photo credit: The University of Melbourne

Why Go?

Why go all the way to Australia or New Zealand to study, when there are so many universities in the UK? Here are a few factors to consider

1.    The quality of the universities: Research and global standing

Australia and New Zealand are both home to internationally prestigious, research-led universities, many of which are ranked among the best in the world. The qualifications they award are recognised and respected by employers and other universities worldwide.

The universities are research-led, and undertake pioneering research in many fields. The technology for the world’s first vaccine for cervical cancer was discovered at the University of Queensland; solar cell researchers at the University of New South Wales played a key role in achieving the highest efficiency for solar power, setting a new world record of 43 per cent of sunlight converted into electricity; while University of Otago researchers have developed a simple urine test to detect kidney transplant rejection, which they hope will eventually replace the current invasive biopsy test.

Governments and businesses worldwide seek the expertise and research power of Australian and New Zealand universities, and their discoveries and academics are in demand by organisations ranging from NATO to NASA. Research excellence is key to ensuring quality undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities, as discoveries and knowledge filter down to inform all levels of university teaching. See the individual university profiles for more.

2.    The quality of the universities v2: International rankings

The strength of Australian and New Zealand universities is consistently confirmed by their performance in a range of different international university rankings.

In the 2012/2013 world university rankings from QS, there were seven Australian universities and one New Zealand ranked in the world’s top 100. There are 42 universities in Australia and just eight in New Zealand, so the number judged to be among the world’s best gives a good indication of how high standards are. The UK has around 120 universities; 18 of which were ranked in the world’s top 100 by QS. 

It’s important to compare a number of different ranking systems, to make sure you get a balanced picture – we recommend looking at the annual international university rankings from the Times Higher Education as well as the Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong. The Times Higher Education rankings for 2012/2013 placed six Australian universities in the world’s top 100, as compared to ten from the UK.

3.    International degree recognition

Australia and New Zealand both have education systems based on the British model, and Australian and New Zealand university qualifications are recognised all over the world as being the direct equivalent of qualifications from British universities.

This excellent recognition between the systems is not just reassuring; it is key if you are hoping to study a professional degree – such as veterinary science, nursing, engineering, medicine, or social work overseas. Many of the national regulatory bodies for these professions in the UK, Australia and New Zealand already have agreements in place with one another to ensure that graduates from one country are immediately approved to work in the other. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in the UK, for example, accredits many of the Bachelor of Veterinary Science degrees taught at Australian and New Zealand universities, which ensures that students can qualify as a vet in either country, and then return immediately to the UK to work, without having to do any kind of registration test or undertake any further study.

4.    A chance to broaden your horizons

Going to university isn’t just about studying. Where would you like to live for a few years? Studying in another country is a unique chance to experience a different culture and lifestyle. As an international student you will have the freedom to live in New Zealand or Australia for the duration of your course; the time to properly immerse yourself in the lifestyle and the chance to travel around – all at the same time as getting a great, world-recognised education.

Living such a long way from home for an extended period of time isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and it can be challenging, particularly at first. But if you are independent by nature, with a sense of adventure and a bit of initiative, and are not afraid of doing something different, there are some amazing experiences to be had. Depending where you are, once classes are over you can head to the beach, go skiing for the weekend, take in an exhibition or an art gallery, learn to dive, or just explore the great outdoors.

5.    Good graduate job prospects

Studying overseas will make your CV stand out to an employer. It’s not that getting a job application from someone who studied at an Australian or New Zealand university is unusual for big companies – after all, there are estimated to be around 500,000 Aussies and Kiwis working in the UK, many of them graduates – but it’s still relatively unusual for a UK student to study overseas, whether it’s in Australia, New Zealand or the US, China or Europe. Employers tell us that they would assume such applicants had sought-after traits such as initiative and independence, as well as a valuable international perspective.

There are also currently opportunities in both countries to stay on after finishing your degree and work. Both Australia and New Zealand currently have relatively strong economies and good graduate job markets, so this could be a great chance for you to land that all-important first job, and return to the UK with work experience to back up your degree. Contact Study Options for more details on work visa options after graduating.

6.    Flexible courses and dedicated, accessible academics

General academic degrees – for example the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Commerce and Bachelor of Science – are typically much broader and more flexible in structure in Australia and New Zealand than is usually the case in the UK. This means that you have a much wider choice in terms of the subjects you study, and can often create a programme that’s uniquely tailored to your interests and career goals. Contact teaching hours for undergraduates are typically higher than at many UK universities, and the teaching culture throughout is relaxed and informal – one of the most common pieces of feedback we get from students (from undergraduate to PhD) is how accessible and friendly they find academic staff to be.

7.    These are the best places in the world to study certain subjects

Australian and New Zealand universities are recognised as world leaders in a huge and diverse range of subject areas, including sport science, physiotherapy, geology, physical geography, social work, environmental science, and marine studies. If you are working toward a career in one of these areas, studying in Australia or New Zealand could be the best possible start.

Both countries also offer students and researchers unparalleled access to the natural world and amazing opportunities for fieldwork. Marine scientists in Australia, for example, can use the Great Barrier Reef as a laboratory, or work in the waters of Tasmania, which are classed as the cleanest in the world, bar those of Antarctica.

8.    Make the most of your student years

Universities in Australia and New Zealand are very focused on the student experience, and offer a huge range of opportunities for you to maximise your time as a student. You can take part in an academic exchange, and study almost anywhere in the world for a term or a year. Or undertake an internship, join a voluntary project, get involved with clubs and societies, or do a leadership programme. Or all of the above!

Key points to consider