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Choosing a university: Regional unis in Australia

Australia’s regional universities have a lot to offer and should be in your mix when choosing where to study

Puzzling over where to go to uni, considering whether you need to move to the city, or seeking a uni in a regional area where you’d one day like to work?

We’re here to tell you Australia’s regional universities are definitely worth including in your preference list. 

Just some of the benefits Australia’s regional universities offer over their big city counterparts include:

#1 Smaller class sizes – meaning more chances to get help from your teachers and actively participate in discussions.

#2 Being part of a community – the path from study to a job can be shorter thanks to regional universities often being deeply integrated with the local community.

#3 Cheaper cost of living – regional living costs like rent are usually far cheaper in regional towns than in big cities.

#4 Quality of life – ahhhh the serenity.

#5 Specialised programs – whether its agriculture, environmental management or marine science, regional unis take advantage of their proximity to the industries and nature they’re training students to work with.

These 7 universities are part of the Regional Universities Network, and we’ve summed up the benefits they offer and the STEM fields they specialise in to save you time. You’re welcome!

Charles Sturt University (CSU)

With campuses in the regional NSW/Victorian towns of Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Wangaratta, CSU is Australia’s largest regional uni. 

It also claims the #1 spot, by this ranking, for undergraduate employment. It says 87% of undergraduates find a job in their field within four months of graduation.

CSU is also big on online learning, with more than half of its students completing their course online in 2022/23.

The uni’s research focus is in agriculture and environmental science, with courses in vet and equine science, and it also specialises in regional and rural health, with courses in dentistry, medical sciences, nursing, paramedicine and sport science.

FUN FACT: You can study the science to be a winemaker with CSU’s Bachelor of Viticulture

Central Queensland University (CQU)

Headquartered in Rockhampton, Queensland, CQU also has campuses in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Emerald, Bundaberg and Gladstone. 

Like CSU, CQU also sees high employment rates, with 81.9% of its graduates employed full-time four months after completing their course. But for those who don’t get a job within 6 months, it offers an online Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Entrepreneurship at no cost. 

In STEM research, CQU excels in applied maths, electrical and mechanical engineering, psychology and cognitive sciences, nursing and health sciences. It offers courses in engineering, technology, medical and applied sciences, health and nursing.

FUN FACT: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange studied computer programming at CQU

Federation University

Hailing from Ballarat with a history dating back to 1870, Federation University also has campuses in the regional towns of Berwick, Gippsland and Horsham.

The uni performs well in rankings on student support, and also has strong partnerships with industry.

Its science specialties include biomedical, food and nutrition, environmental and vet and wildlife. In engineering, along with civil, electrical and mechanical, it offers a mining focused degree, and it also has a strong offering in IT.

FUN FACT: You can study beer brewing in Federation Uni’s science faculty.

Southern Cross University

With campuses in the subtropical and temperate areas of the Gold Coast, Lismore and Coffs Harbour, SCU has a focus on environmental science and marine biology.

The uni’s Coffs Harbour campus is home to the National Marine Science Centre with a research focus on resilience of marine ecosystems and resources.

Along with traditional science, engineering and IT courses, the university also offers a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge and a degree in coastal systems engineering. SCU expanded into health science in 2019, with degrees in nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy and sport exercise science.

FUN FACT: SCU is the only Australian university situated adjacent to an international airport.

University of New England (UNE)

Headquartered in the NSW town of Armidale, UNE has one of the largest residential college networks in regional Australia.

The uni is known for agriculture and vet science, and it also has a research focus on environmental change, animal genetics and rural health. It offers courses in agriculture, rural science, geoscience, sport science, nursing, economics, along with traditional sciences and IT.

FUN FACT: Two Reserve Bank of Australia governors (Bernie Fraser and Michele Bullock) did their undergraduate economics degrees at UNE.

University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ)

UniSQ’s main campus is in the regional Queensland city of Toowoomba, and it also has campuses in Ipswich and the Brisbane suburb of Springfield.

Its research strengths are in agricultural technology, pharmaceutical sciences, materials engineering, pharmacology, environmental science and management.

UniSQ also hosts the Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences, and alongside traditional science degrees it also offers courses in astronomical and space sciences, and astrophysics.

It is the only university in Australia to offer degrees in agricultural engineering and agricultural technology management.

FUN FACT: In 2012, a UniSQ archaeologist discovered Australia’s oldest rock art, dated at 28,000 years.

University of Sunshine Coast (USC)

Starting life in 1996, USC is a young university with a focus on sustainability. Its main campus is located on Queensland’s sunshine coast in Sippy Downs, and it also has campuses in Hervey Bay, Gympie and Caboolture.

UniSC’s research focus is in the fields of neuroscience, agriculture, aquaculture, ecology, forestry and environment, with undergraduate degrees offered in animal ecology, environmental management and environmental science.

It offers traditional engineering degrees, as well as a double degree in civil engineering and environmental science.

UniSC is the top ranked public university in Australia for teaching quality in Health Services and Support, and its health education, training and research facility is located adjacent to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Birtinya.

FUN FACT: UniSC researchers have developed a vaccine to treat chlamydia in koalas.


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