Why Study Down Under?


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

  1. The quality of the universities

Australia and New Zealand are both home to internationally prestigious, research-led universities, many of which are ranked among the best in the world.

In September 2011, two New Zealand and eight Australian universities were ranked in the world’s top 130 by QS. There are around 40 universities in Australia and just eight universities in New Zealand, so the percentage judged to be among the world’s best gives a good indication of how high overall standards are. The UK has around 120 universities; 22 of which were ranked in the 2011 QS top 130.

When looking at rankings, it’s important to compare a number of different systems, to make sure you get a balanced picture. Try the annual international university rankings from the Times Higher Education as well as the Academic Ranking of World Universities from Shanghai Jiao Tong.

Australian and New Zealand university qualifications 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.

  1. Strong international degree recognition

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

This excellent recognition between the systems is reassuring for everyone, but it is particularly important if you are planning to study a professional degree such as nursing, veterinary science, social work or engineering 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 Bachelor of Veterinary Science courses in Australia and New Zealand, 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 further study.

  1. 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 Australia or New Zealand 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 – 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 and opportunities 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.

  1. 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 500,000 Aussies and Kiwis currently 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 an international perspective.

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

  1. Flexible study programmes and dedicated, accessible tutors

General academic degrees – for example the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Commerce and the Bachelor of Science – are typically much broader and more flexible in structure in Australia and New Zealand than 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 are typically higher than at many UK universities, and the teaching culture is relaxed and informal – one of the most common pieces of feedback we get from students is how accessible and friendly they find academic staff to be. 

  1. The best places in the world to study certain subjects…

Australian and New Zealand universities are recognised as world leaders in many subject areas, including sport science, physiotherapy, geology, physical geography, social work, environmental science, and marine studies. If you want a career in one of these fields, 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.

  1. Make the most of your time…

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 at a partner university. Or undertake an internship, join a community or voluntary project, or do a leadership programme. Or all of the above!

Copy provided by Study Options. Study Options represents Australian and New Zealand universities and colleges in the UK. For more information, please click here.

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