Best Cities in Australia for International Students

top cities in australia

Students can expect a rewarding academic and professional journey in Australia. Numerous top cities in Australia are well-equipped to cater to the needs of a vibrant and flourishing student community. Here are some viable options for students’ employment prospects, reputed institutions, and cultural attractions galore.

Read More: How to settle in Australia from India?

Top Cities in Australia- A Closer Look 

Here are the top cities in Australia that successfully meet the needs of the student population. 


Featuring at the 6th spot on QS Best Student Cities 2022 list, Melbourne is undoubtedly the top student city in Australia. Known as the country’s cultural capital, several reputed universities dot the city, all of which have featured in global rankings. Multicultural exchange is one of the best things about student life in Australia, and Melbourne is no exception. The Economist has previously rated Melbourne as the most livable city in the world. It offers a high standard of living.

Some of the country’s biggest corporations are headquartered in the city. Some unique attractions include the Eureka Tower with jaw-dropping views from the 297th floor, Port Phillip Bay and its penguins, and sporting, musical and cultural events aplenty. 

Key highlights
Average tuition cost (annually) US$25,000
QS Best Student Cities 2022 6
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 59

Top universities in Melbourne include:

  • Monash University
  • RMIT University
  • University of Melbourne
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • La Trobe University
  • Victoria University
  • Australian Catholic University

Read More: How Much Gap Is Acceptable for Study in Australia? | Read More: Eligibility Criteria for Masters (MS) in Australia


Another good choice for international students, Sydney has a rank of 8 in the QS Best Student Cities 2022 list. Sydney is Australia’s biggest city offering stunning beaches, greenery and a cosmopolitan student population. It has five globally ranked universities. Sydney welcomes more than 50,000 international students annually and offers excellent employability. Student life in Australia is a holistic experience as the country is truly diverse and inclusive. 

Key highlights
Average tuition cost (annually) US$26,700 
QS Best Student Cities 2022 8
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 31

Numerous MNCs are headquartered in Sydney, which has the biggest economy in Australia.

Leading universities in Sydney are-

  • University of Sydney
  • University of New South Wales
  • Macquarie University
  • Western Sydney University
  • University of Technology Sydney


The capital city of Australia gets more than 35,000 students and is home to several reputed institutions. Canberra ranks 37th in the QS Best Student Cities 2022 list. Major attractions in this city include the Black Mountain Tower, Captain James Cook Memorial, an artificial lake in the city centre, and more. Top events in Canberra include the annual Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament. 

Key highlights
Average tuition cost (annually) US$25,700 
QS Best Student Cities 2022 37
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 75

Notable educational institutions in the city include-

  • The Australian National University
  • University of Canberra
  • The Canberra Institute of Technology

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Another top city in Australia, Brisbane is student-friendly and welcomes more than 50,000 international students annually. It’s also a popular tourist destination due to its location on the Gold Coast, which features some of the world’s most famous beaches. This new-world city offers a sunny and refreshing climate, buzzing nightlife, and strong sporting culture. Exploring Moreton Bay and Islands will be a fun affair for students to experience along with the annual Buddha Birth Day festival in Brisbane. While it is not cheap, it is certainly cheaper than Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane ranked 83rd in the world for affordability. For example, according to Numbeo, rent prices in Brisbane are almost 38 per cent lower than in Sydney, with a single apartment in the city centre costing US$1,259. 

Key highlights
Average tuition cost (annually) US$25,600
QS Best Student Cities 2022 29
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 81

Notable educational institutions in the city include-

  • The University of Queensland
  • James Cook University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Griffith University


Adelaide, one of the best cities in Australia for students, is the fifth biggest city in the country. Nestled on the southern coastline, it offers abundant parklands, open spaces and a well-planned city centre. It is a city with an active lifestyle offering ample options for hiking, cycling, and wildlife-watching in Adelaide hills. Students can look forward to cultural events including the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Writers’ Week. Cricket enthusiasts must pay a visit to the Adelaide Oval and watch a live game.

There are ample job opportunities for graduates as several major industries have a presence in the city including healthcare, manufacturing, and production sectors.

Key highlights
Average tuition cost (annually) US$25,500
QS Best Student Cities 2022 35
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 88

Some top universities in the city include-

  • The University of Adelaide
  • Flinders University
  • University of South Australia
  • Torrens University Australia


Perth is another student-friendly city, lying neatly on the Western coastline, around 2,000 miles away from Melbourne and Sydney. Perth is highly ranked in student city rankings, offering abundant cultural, recreational and culinary attractions. 

Student life in Perth revolves more around university campuses and in-house activities. This is because most institutions are located away from the Perth city centre. Key attractions in the city include the Scitech Discovery Center at West Perth, Kings Park, one of the world’s biggest inner-city parks, the Pinnacles and Cottesloe Beach. 

Key highlights
Average tuition cost (annually) US$22,900
QS Best Student Cities 2022 35
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 63

Notable educational institutions in the city include-

  • The University of Western Australia
  • Curtin University
  • Murdoch University
  • Edith Cowan University

Gold Coast

#89 in QS Best Student Cities 2022, Gold Coast is one of the top student cities in Australia, offering a vibrant lifestyle with 300 sunny days annually. It offers 52 kilometres of sparkling golden sands along with a suburb called Surfer’s Paradise.

Along with the lovely coastline, there is a charming subtropical rainforest with three national parks, mountains, waterfalls and natural rock formations. Campuses of 4 leading Australian universities are located on Gold Coast including Bond University. 

Beach lovers and surfers will love Gold Coast along with those who love hiking, forests and mountains. Major attractions include Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves, Dreamworld, Tree Top Walkway, Sea World and Infinity, which offer jaw-dropping scenes. 

Key highlights
Average tuition cost US$21,200
QS Best Student Cities 2022 89
Affordability rank (Mercer Cost of Living Rankings) 79

Notable educational institutes in the city include-

  • Bond University
  • Southern Cross University

More Resources to Read About Australia:

QS Metrics for Scoring Best Cities to Live in Australia for International Students

There are distinct factors that play an important role in deciding the best destinations for international students. Some of these contributing factors are mentioned below 

1. University rankings 

This factor portrays the overall performance of a city’s universities in the QS World University Rankings. The rankings are basically decided on the basis of the features of the universities that attract international students from all over the world. 

For example, Sydney consists of five globally ranked universities which makes it the best city to live in Australia for international students. Some of the well-known universities in Sydney are the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, University of Sydney. 

2. Desirability

When choosing a city to study, students consider various factors such as living conditions and the safety of the area they choose to reside in. They also look for the list of top cities in Australia that meet their conditions. The criteria on the basis of which the desirability of the city is decided include safety, pollution and student desires. 

3. Cost-effective 

This factor determines how affordable a city will be, depending upon the tuition fees of the universities and cost of living for international students. 

4. Recruitment activity 

The more recruiters based in the city, the more beneficial it is for international students. The factor basically reflects the employment activity of the city in terms of hiring recent graduates of the university. 

Regional Towns and Cities in Australia to Consider

1. Darwin 

Darwin falls under one of the most beautiful regional towns of Australia with high employability rates which makes it an excellent choice for international students. This town is not surrounded by huge buildings and there are many activities which students can enjoy taking part in during their vacations. 

2. Tasmania 

Tasmania is an ideal destination for international students who look for an affordable place that can fit their budget. It is widely known for its best air quality index in the world, scenic views and fascinating history as compared to the other states of Australia. All in all, Tasmania is an interesting place to live if you’re a nature-lover or a foodie. 

3. Sunshine Coast  

The Sunshine Coast is the most perfect destination for tourists across the globe. With ample study and career opportunities, a high-paced economy, a desirable lifestyle and beautiful beaches, the place attracts the majority of international tourists. 

4. Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a haven for students who are fond of seaside beaches, fine dining and exclusive shopping experiences. There are plenty of budget-friendly as well as luxurious accommodations to explore. Along with a unique lifestyle experience, the place is home to Australia’s most iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse

Studying in Australia- A Brief Look 

Australia has a plethora of options for higher education aspirants. You can take your pick from over 1,100 educational institutions and more than 22,000 courses. International students can choose between vocational education and training (VET) and higher education at colleges and universities. Leading organisations for higher education include TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency) and ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority). They take care of registration, re-registration and course accreditation of educational institutions. 

Australia promises high-quality education to all international students through several laws. These include the ESOS (Education Services for Overseas Students) Act of 2000 and the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities. These ensure consistent and quality standards for education and training providers. Studying in Australia will necessitate applying for the right student visa. Universities currently recommend the SSVF (Simplified Student Visa Framework) for visas. 

Visa laws permit international students to work for a maximum of 40 hours every fortnight during their academic term.

Work permits of 2-4 years may be granted to international students after completing their studies. Australia offers a steady economic growth rate of 1.9% and good job prospects in sectors like information technology, telecommunications, architecture, construction, healthcare and education.

Some of the best courses to pursue in Australia are Biomedical Engineering, Actuarial Science, Computer Science and Information Technology, Engineering and Architecture.

Read More: Jobs in Australia after MS in Computer Science

Study in Australia with upGrad Abroad

upGrad Abroad has collaborated with some of the leading universities in Australia to offer cost-effective quality foreign education. The USP of these programs is the blended model in which they are offered. Courses are a balanced mix of online and on-campus learning that lead to globally recognised degrees. To know more, get in touch with our counsellors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which are the top cities in Australia for Indian students?

The top five cities for Indians in Australia are Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Adelaide. They house the best educational universities and offer the experience of a bustling cosmopolitan.

Q2. How is student life in Australia for Indians?

Australia is a student-friendly country which welcomes thousands of international students every year. Indian students can look forward to well-balanced academic and cultural experiences. There is a lot to learn and do in the country.

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