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Choosing a university: Do I need to go to a top university?

Sandstone unis, the ‘ivy league’, or Australia’s Group of 8 have a lot going for them, but consider if these top ranked universities are the best fit for you

University rankings are helpful for many things, but choosing a university solely on rankings may not be the best decision. Here’s why.

If you’ve ever heard people talking about ‘sandstone universities’, ivy league universities’ or the Group of 8, they’re talking about top-ranked universities. Australia’s Group of 8 are all ranked in the top 150 universities in the world. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • Australian National University
  • Monash University
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Melbourne
  • UNSW
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Western Australia

These top universities receive the most grant funding and are highly ranked in large part due to their world-class research. They’re also some of Australia’s oldest universities, many with beautiful sandstone buildings, hence the name. 

Australia’s top universities have a great reputation and in some areas like medicine, law or engineering, having them on your CV can help you career, but there’s a lot more to uni success than the name of the university you choose.

While uni rankings are one thing to consider when choosing a uni, other factors to take into account include work experience options and connection to industry, graduate employment outcomes, ATAR cut-off scores, cost (including travel to the uni you choose), or student clubs you might be super keen to join.

Beyond the rankings that decide Australia’s top unis, it’s also worth looking at other rankings, like the Student Experience Survey, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education.

This survey takes into account what students think, so it’s a lot more practical, covering the educational experience including skills development, learner engagement, teaching quality, student support, and learning resources.

And the results are often quite different to the top university rankings.

These are the top 10 ranked unis in Australia, according to this survey:

  • University of Divinity
  • Avondale University
  • Bond University
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Deakin University
  • University of New England
  • Torrens University
  • Swinburne University
  • Australian National University
  • University of the Sunshine Coast

So take the time to do your research – uni is a big financial commitment, and finding the uni for you could make all the difference to your experience there.


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