Studying in Sydney

Universities in Sydney
Updated 2023-07-09 13:42

Sydney, Australia's largest and most iconic city, is famous for its harbor, great weather, and coastal suburbs. But Sydney isn't just about laid-back surfer vibes; it also contains several well-respected universities and a number of other tertiary institutions. If you're an international student considering studying in Australia, keep reading to discover what Sydney has to offer you.

Australia's best student city

In the latest QS Best Student Cities Rankings, Sydney came in 9th out of the best student cities in the world. Melbourne came in 5th, but when you consider that these are all of the universities ranked worldwide, being in the top ten is very impressive.

Sydney is diverse, exciting, and full of great cultural and entertainment options. The weather is great, and its access to the ocean and national parks means people are able to experience the great outdoors, too. And when it comes to finding work post-graduation, Sydney is a great option. As Australia's financial and economic hub, Sydney is an excellent place to begin your career. Where Sydney loses a few points is in affordability – and this applies to both course fees and the basic cost of living. Be prepared to have to work during your studies and thoroughly research rent and expenses before making the move so that you aren't hit with a nasty surprise. There are currently 208,000 international students in Sydney, so you definitely won't feel out of place.

Visas and entry requirements for international students in Sydney

Entry requirements and visa conditions for international students in Sydney can vary depending on the institution and the specific course of study. However, there are some general entry requirements that international students typically need to fulfill, including:

Academic qualifications

International students are generally required to meet specific academic requirements for admission to their desired program. This may include the completion of a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification. Some courses may have additional subject prerequisites. The academic requirements can vary depending on the level of study and the specific program. Some international qualifications may not be recognized or may need to be translated into Australian terms. You can assess if your qualification is recognized using this government tool.

English language proficiency

Proficiency in English is usually needed for international students. Most universities and institutions in Sydney accept internationally recognized English language proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE. The minimum scores required may vary depending on the program and the institution. Some institutions may offer their English language programs or accept alternative English language qualifications.

Application process

International students are usually required to submit an application to the institution they wish to study at. This involves completing an application form and providing academic transcripts and certificates, English language test results, a statement of purpose or personal statement, and any other supporting documents as requested by the institution. It's important to check the specific application deadlines and requirements of the institution you are applying to.

Visa requirements

International students will need to obtain an appropriate student visa to study in Australia. The visa requirements and application process are administered by the Department of Home Affairs. Generally, students need to provide proof of enrollment in a registered course, evidence of financial capacity to cover living expenses and tuition fees, health insurance coverage, and meet health and character requirements.

Sydney's top universities

Sydney is home to a number of world-class universities and institutions. Whether you want to study medicine, the arts, engineering, or a specific trade course, it's likely Sydney will have a course that suits your needs. Below we've summarised Sydney's top six universities, including their departments and specialties.

University of Sydney

The University of Sydney is Australia's oldest university, founded in 185. It offers a wide range of faculties, including Arts and Social Sciences, Business, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Science, and more. It is renowned for its research excellence and is home to the iconic Quadrangle, a sandstone building complex that has come to represent its rich history and architectural beauty.

University of New South Wales

Established in 1949, the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) is known for its strong focus on innovation and technology. It offers a wide range of faculties, including Arts and Social Sciences, Business, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Science, and more. It houses the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre, a state-of-the-art facility fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and supporting entrepreneurial ventures.

Macquarie University

Founded in 1964, Macquarie University is recognized for its strong research culture and global connections. Faculties include Arts, Business and Economics, Engineering, Human Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Science and Engineering, among others. It is home to Macquarie University Hospital, a leading private hospital that provides a unique environment for medical education and research.

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Established in 1988, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) excels in practical and industry-oriented education. Faculties include Design, Architecture, and Building; Engineering and Information Technology; Health; Business; Law; Science; and Transdisciplinary Innovation.

Western Sydney University

Founded in 1989, Western Sydney University emphasizes diversity, community engagement, and social impact. It offers a range of faculties, including Business and Law, Engineering and Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities and Communication Arts, Nursing and Midwifery, Science, and Social Sciences and Psychology. WSU is located in the Parramatta City Campus, a hub fostering collaboration between students, researchers, and industry partners.

Australian Catholic University (ACU)

Established in 1991, Australian Catholic University (ACU) combines academic rigor with a commitment to social justice. It is the only university in Australia that is supported by the Catholic Church, reflecting its mission to provide a values-based education. Faculties include Education and Arts, Health Sciences, Law and Business, Theology and Philosophy, and more.

Other higher education institutions in Sydney

Perhaps you have been considering studying in Sydney but are thinking of entering a specific career path, trade, or vocation that requires specialist training – but not necessarily an academic degree. If this sounds like you, you may be better served by enrolling in a trade or vocational school. Or, if you are hoping to enter the world of creative arts, you might be drawn to one of Sydney's famous music, arts, or drama schools.

  • The Sydney Institute of TAFE: In Australia, TAFE is a government-run system that provides education after high school in vocational areas like beauty, design, childcare, accounting, business, recruitment, IT, and many more. It offers a comprehensive range of courses designed to equip students with practical skills and industry-relevant knowledge. Most areas in Australia will have a TAFE institution of some kind.
  • National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA): NIDA is Australia's premier center for education and training in performing arts. It offers training in acting, directing, stage management, design, and technical production, providing students with hands-on experience and professional training in the performing arts industry. NIDA is known for its competitive audition process and challenging course of study. Famous graduates include Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, and Mel Gibson.
  • Australian Institute of Music (AIM): AIM is a renowned music and performing arts institution in Sydney. It offers programs in music performance, composition, audio engineering, entertainment management, and musical theatre, catering to aspiring musicians, performers, and industry professionals.
  • International College of Management Sydney (ICMS): ICMS is a leading institution specializing in business management, hospitality, event management, and tourism education. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs that mix theory with practical industry experience. Graduates have gone on to have very successful business careers.
  • William Blue College of Hospitality Management: William Blue College offers courses centered on tourism and event management. It has a range of diploma and degree programs focused on developing skills for the hospitality industry.

Living in Sydney on a student budget

Like most major cities in Australia, the cost of living in Sydney can be pretty high. Tuition fees vary depending on the university and course program you choose, but you also have to contend with the general expenses that come with living anywhere. It's important to have a clear understanding of the fees associated with your specific program before making a commitment, as well as researching cost of living estimates and rental prices. To help with budgeting, Sydney universities provide resources on the cost of living in the city. Refer to these guides to get a comprehensive idea of your expenses. For instance, here is a guide prepared by the University of Sydney and another made by WSU.

One advantage of studying in Sydney (or Australia in general) is that international students on a student visa are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week. This can be a great opportunity to earn extra income and pay for your living expenses.

When planning your budget, carefully consider factors such as accommodation, transportation, groceries, utilities, and leisure activities and figure out where you are willing to compromise: i.e., sharing with multiple people, cycling instead of driving, and so on. Sharing accommodation with other students or exploring options like homestays can significantly reduce housing costs. Taking advantage of student discounts, exploring free or low-cost activities, and preparing meals at home all help with transitioning to a more affordable lifestyle.

Student accommodation in Sydney

Whether you're enrolled at the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, the University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University, or the Australian Catholic University, you'll find a multitude of housing options to suit your student lifestyle. All of these universities offer student accommodation of various sorts. These can range from dorm rooms to shared apartments and can even come with meals included. Usually near campus and equipped with good security, WiFI, laundry and other amenities, this kind of accommodation is a popular choice for many students as it's incredibly convenient – especially for those who are living away from home for the first time and haven't quite mastered the basics of cooking and cleaning. Costs for this kind of accommodation will vary, from AUD 200 at the lowest end and AUD 500 at the peak. Spots may be competitive, especially for more desirable options, so register early if possible.

If you crave a bit more independence, off-campus options are also an excellent choice. Whether you're sharing a flat with other people or opting for a homestay, living independently can be more affordable than on-campus housing if you're willing to share, but it can also end up being more expensive if you want to live alone. Use websites like Gumtree and Flatmate Finders to find different housing options in Sydney, and don't forget about Facebook groups as a house-hunting tool.

Whichever university you enroll with will have an advisory center for international students that will be used to offer advice and suggestions to prospective students. Make the most of these services; they can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to housing.

Work opportunities for international students in Sydney

International students in Sydney have the opportunity to work part-time while pursuing their studies. This is a great way to offset the high cost of living in Sydney, and it can also get you valuable experience in your field and connect you with new friends. Here's some essential information to consider about working on a student visa in Sydney:

Work limitations

Most international students on a valid student visa can work up to 40 hours per fortnight during school sessions and work unlimited hours during holidays. Make sure to check your visa and institution's requirements around this, however.

Tax File Number (TFN)

To work in Australia, you will need to obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). This unique identification number allows you to work and pay taxes in Australia. You can easily apply for a TFN online through the ATO website.

Job opportunities

Being the economic hub of the country, Sydney naturally offers a wide range of job opportunities for international students, including part-time positions, casual work, and internships. Industries such as hospitality, retail, customer service, and administration often have openings suitable for students. Make use of university job boards and career services to find job opportunities that align with your interests and schedule. Again, the international student center may help connect you with specific employers.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.