Best Cities in Australia for International Students

top cities in australia

Students can expect a fulfilling and rewarding academic and professional journey in Australia. There are numerous top cities in Australia that are equipped to cater to the needs of a vibrant and flourishing student community Although listing the best city in Australia is difficult, the following are the viable options for students with their employment prospects, reputed institutions, and cultural attractions galore. 

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Top Cities in Australia- A Closer Look 

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


Melbourne is often called the best city to live in Australia and it is not hard to see why! Known as Australia’s cultural capital, seven 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 along with national biggies like the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Business Council of Australia. 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. Top universities in Melbourne include Monash University, University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology, and Melbourne Business School. 

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One of the best cities in Australia for students, Sydney is Australia’s biggest city. It offers luxurious life, stunning beaches, greenery and a cosmopolitan student population. It has five globally ranked universities, two of which were amongst the top-50 in the QS World University Rankings for 2015-16. Sydney welcomes more than 50,000 international students annually and offers excellent employability. 

Numerous MNCs are headquartered in Sydney that has the biggest economy in Australia. Leading universities in Sydney are Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney among others. 


Canberra is a great place to study in Australia, home to the country’s highest-ranked global university (Australian National University) and a diverse student population. The capital city of Australia gets more than 35,000 students and is home to reputed institutions like the University of Canberra. 

Major attractions in this city include the Black Mountain Tower, Captain James Cook Memorial, a man-made lake in the city center, and more. Top events in Canberra include the annual Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament. 

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Brisbane is also considered one of the best cities in Australia for students. It is a student-friendly city that welcomes more than 50,000 international students annually. This new-world city offers beautiful beaches, a sunny and refreshing climate, buzzing nightlife, and a strong sporting culture. 

Top universities like the University of Queensland and James Cook University are among the reputed institutions in Brisbane which is also one of the most affordable study destinations in Australia. Exploring Moreton Bay and Islands will be a fun affair for students to experience along with the annual Buddha Birth Day festival in Brisbane.


Adelaide is the fifth biggest city in the country, ranking high on the list of top cities in Australia for students. Nestled on the southern coastline, it offers abundant parklands, open spaces and a well-planned city center. Wildlife watching, exploring the Adelaide Hills and cycling are some fun activities that students can indulge in during their stay in Adelaide. The city offers several vibrant cultural events including the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Writers’ Week. 

The city is home to leading universities like the University of South Australia, Flinders University, University of Adelaide and Torrens University Australia. Adelaide has a vast and cosmopolitan population of students. 

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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. Leading universities here include the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University. 

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 center. Key attractions in the city include the Scitech Discovery Center at West Perth, Kings Park which is one of the world’s biggest inner-city parks, the Pinnacles and Cottesloe Beach. 

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Gold Coast

Gold Coast is one of the top student cities in Australia, offering a vibrant lifestyle with 300 sunny days annually. It offers 52 kilometers 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 in Gold Coast including Bond University. 

Beach lovers and surfers will love Gold Coast along with those who love hiking, forests and mountains. It is one of the most coveted places to live in the world. Major attractions include Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves, Dreamworld, Tree Top Walkway, Sea World and Infinity that offer jaw-dropping illusions and special effects. 

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Some of the best cities of Australia as per QS rankings:

1. Melbourne

2. Sydney

3. Canberra

4. Brisbane

5. Adelaide

6. Perth

7. Gold Coast

All these seven cities form the important cities of Australia that provide the best study as well as living conditions for the international students. Quacquarelli Symonds or QS is a UK company that assesses the universities across the globe based on the quality of higher education they provide.

QS matrics to give out the score of the 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 of Sydney are 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 safety of the area they choose to reside in. They also look for the list of top cities of Australia that meet their conditions. The criteria on the basis of which desirability of the city is decided on includes 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 that one may consider to move

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  

Sunshine coast is the most perfect destination for tourists across the globe. With ample study and career opportunities, a high paced economy, 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 a home to Australia’s most iconic Cape Byron¬†Lighthouse

Studying in Australia- A Brief Look 

Australia has vast and diverse choices for international students. You can take your pick from over 1,100 educational institutions and more than 22,000 courses. Primary, secondary and tertiary education is offered by the Australian education system which is differentiated by the AQF (Australian Qualification Framework) from other countries. International students can choose from vocational education and training (VET) to higher education at colleges and universities. Leading organizations 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. 

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Visa laws offer permission to international students to work for a maximum of 40 hours every fortnight during their educational 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.

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