Updated 8 months ago

Melbourne has most of what makes the Australian lifestyle so appealing – beautiful beaches, a Mediterranean climate with many sunny days, nightlife, cool shops and a great food and coffee culture. It’s no surprise it regularly tops lists of the world’s most liveable cities.

As Victoria’s capital and Australia's second largest city, its cultural calendar is packed year-round with music, art, comedy, film or fashion events and multicultural celebrations.

Why study in Melbourne?

Highly ranked universities

Melbourne’s universities are known for quality education with world-class research capability. In fact, seven Melbourne universities were featured in the QS World University rankings in 2016-2017, the University of Melbourne being the best ranked at 42nd worldwide, only second to the Australian National University. Victoria is a global hub to attract the world’s best researchers and academics.

Australia’s best student city

Did you know that Melbourne ranks among the top five favourite study destinations worldwide? Following the QS Best Student Cities Index it regularly leads lists of the world’s most liveable cities. International students love the Australian lifestyle: beautiful beaches with a fair share of sunny days, Melbourne’s nightlife with interesting bars, cafes and a thriving music and art scene and exciting cultural events.

The universities are easy to reach by public transport and there is a great infrastructure to assist students, such as free public libraries, plenty of student accommodation and cheap-but-good dining options. Like other Australian cities, affordability may be its major drawback with both living costs and fees on the rather high side. However, for its high standard of living and amazing surroundings, Melbourne remains tough to beat.

The academic environment in Melbourne

Melbourne universities attend 277,000 students in total, including 91,000 students from overseas. International students come from all over the world, including China, India, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Brazil.

The 4 million people city is home to seven public universities, three of which teach over 50,000 students each: Monash, RMIT and Melbourne University.

The teaching culture

Australian students are encouraged to study independently and be responsible for completing their readings and research within the deadlines; but tutors will usually help students to adapt. Generally, the academics and students maintain a more casual and respectful attitude on a first name basis. And students are welcome to challenge lecturers and tutors in tutorial discussions, which often will be part of your final mark.

English language requirements

All foreign students who have not normally studied in English, need to provide proof of their English language skills as part of the application process. This can be done in a number of ways, therefore it’s best to check with the university of your choice:

  • Take a language skill test for example IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge certificate. Make sure to check in advance which certificates and level of English proficiency are required for the course being applied for.
  • Completing the university’s pre-session English language course
  • Provide proof of secondary or tertiary qualification to confirm your level of English

Melbourne’s main universities

The university of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne is a leading public research university with several campuses across Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is the country’s second oldest university and a member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australia's eight leading research Universities, as well as Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, two global and regional networks of research universities. Melbourne University ranked among the top 50 universities worldwide and Australia’s second in 2016/2017, following QS university rankings and Times Higher Education. It is highly regarded in the fields of the humanities, arts and biomedicine; has 11 separate academic units including 15 graduate schools. The Melbourne Business School, Melbourne Medical School and Melbourne Law School are especially well regarded.

The university of Melbourne is home to over 50,000 students of which over 35% are from overseas. Among its graduates are four prime ministers and five governors-general of Australia. To find out more about their programs, check out their website.

Monash University

Monash University is a well-noted public research university and Australia’s largest with over 60,000 students, including 25% international students from over 170 countries. Comprising a large network of campuses including international centres in Malaysia, China, India, Italy and South Africa, it ranks among the top 100 universities worldwide, following QS university rankings. Monash is also a member of Australia’s Group of Eight and the country’s only member of the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centres, Universities and National Academies, a collaborative network of academic institutions. It’s renowned to be one of Australia’s best faculties of medicine, nursing and health sciences and ranks well in social sciences, science, pharmacy, engineering and technology, as well as computer science. Monash University hosts major research facilities and maintains a high level of innovation through collaboration in research and with industry. Don’t hesitate to find out more directly on the Monash website.

RMIT University

RMIT University, officially known as the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, was established in 1887 as the Working Men’s College and was granted public university status in 1992. As Australia’s largest tertiary institution, it is now home to over 80,000 students of which 45,000 students alone attend the main Melbourne city campus, and around 40% students from overseas. There are three campuses and two sites in Australia as well as two campuses in Vietnam and a centre in Spain. RMIT is known for its focus on design and technology, with a global reputation in art and design, architecture, engineering, business and management studies as well as accounting and finance. It offers programs under 23 schools across three academic colleges and is associated with more than 150 partner institutions in over 30 countries on three continents, offering various semester exchange programmes. If this catches your interest, check out the RMIT website.

Entry conditions

International students need to meet the same or very similar academic entry requirements as Australian students, i.e. have a recognized secondary (high school) qualification such as A-levels or equivalent, and demonstrate good English language skills. Certain courses may have special or higher entry requirements such as ability tests or minimum entry marks or grades, that are usually published by course and by country on the university website (ATAR scores are the Australian equivalent for high-school leavers). As selection procedures and requirements depend on the university and course of study, it’s best to check with the university of your choice.

You’ll need to obtain a student visa unless you hold another visa that allows you to study. Check with the embassy or Australian consulate in your home country and the Australian immigration office. Alternatively, a representative of your university of choice may be able to help prepare your student visa application. You will need the university confirmation of enrolment in order to apply for the visa. So make sure to apply right after you receive the university offer as it can take several weeks to process your visa application. Note that changing your course level of education after the visa application may result in the visa being cancelled.

Be aware that overseas Student Health Cover is compulsory for student visa holders

Exchange programs and scholarships

Almost every university offers university specific scholarships, awards or international student loan schemes. So make sure to check with the university for the course being applied for.

Educational institutions, the Australian government as well as public and private organisations offer a number of scholarships such as the Australia Awards, International Postgraduate Research Scholarships or Australia APEC Women in Research Fellowship that are available for international students.

Living in Melbourne

Cost of living in Melbourne

As in most Australian cities, tuition fees and cost of living in Melbourne tends to be relatively high. Tuition fees will of course depend on the university and course program – however, the above-mentioned universities average between AUS$ 24,000 and AUS $34,000 per year. So it’s best to check directly with the university for the costs of particular courses.

Estimated living expenses are around AUS $18,000 to AUS $25,000 per academic year. Note, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will ask prospective international students to have access to at least AUS $19,830 a year to cover their living costs – that’s excluding tuition fees.

Though it’s easy to see why thousands of international students find a way to cover their costs and experience Melbourne lifestyle. Working during your studies is encouraged and the student visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week.

Student housing in Melbourne

Most universities offer student accommodation or residential colleges, some of which may be off campus or even include meals. Prices range between AUS $ 290 and AUS $750 per week and you are advised to apply well in advance.

More readily available options are independent student housing, homestay (AUS $ 195-500 per week), private rental (AUS $230 - AUS $600 per week), flat share (AUS $250 - AUS $400 per week) or even room shares starting around AUS $140 per week. Flatmates and Flatmate Finders are great sites to find shared accommodation.

What to do

Melbourne has tons of thing to do: enjoy the great coffee culture, stroll along Southbank promenade, wander Queen Victoria Market or party in St. Kilda. Aside from Melbourne's funky and hip bars, multicultural restaurants, galleries, museums and parks, there is also the temptation of the great outdoors. Why not discover the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island, or Tasmania on a weekend trip?

Local meals you should taste at least once

Enjoy the multicultural cuisine and fine local wines – the city is home to over 3000 restaurants serving over 70 national cuisines. In my opinion, Melbourne hosts Australia’s most sophisticated cafe and restaurant food – you can even find Mediterranean style food!

Other than that, don’t miss a good Aussie BBQ, or try an Aussie style burger with beetroot.

Fun facts

There is a bit of rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne and the question of whether you prefer Melbourne or Sydney seems to be one of lifestyle and character – pretty much as you would answer to “…cats or dogs?” or “Madrid or Barcelona”. Well, I am on the Melbourne side as it’s a little more relaxed and alternative.

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