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The UK vs Australia for International Students - Where Should I Study?

Nov 26, 2022Date Published
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UniSearch - The UK vs Australia for International Students - Where Should I Study?

When it comes to choosing between the UK and Australia for international students, it's natural to get confused. Both of these countries have long histories of offering high-quality education, but they also have their own unique traits that make them stand out from the rest of Europe and Asia. Here, we'll look at why these two countries are so popular among international students, and compare their academic offerings so you can choose the right fit for you!

Choosing the Right Academic Destination: Australia and the UK

You might be wondering if it is better to go to the UK or Australia for international students. Both countries are very popular destinations among international students who are looking for quality education. Both offer good scope for volunteering activities and internships and have a growing number of universities with great facilities. You will know which country is perfect for you based on the combination of factors important to you in choosing your ideal university. We are going to discuss the UK vs Australia for international students and describe the differences in universities and student life. All of these are important factors when you start your journey as an international student.

1. Academic Quality

Want to pursue your studies in a nation renowned for its academic excellence? Australia and the UK are fantastic places to start looking! Both countries have a solid reputation for providing excellent education.

The UK has a well-established academic and historical reputation. You can see the influence of the British university system throughout the world. Students from all over the world have access to excellent research opportunities in the UK. Similarly, Australia is home to many universities and offers a world-class education system. Australian educational institutions offer practical teaching standards and high-quality research. An Australian degree, like a UK one, has immense recognition throughout the world.

The UK and Australia are home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world. The United Kingdom is well-known for outstanding institutions like the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, consistently ranking in the top five universities worldwide. On the other hand, the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland are just two examples of the many highly-regarded universities in Australia, respected both domestically and internationally.

Top UK Universities
QS World University Rankings
Top Australian Universities

QS World University Rankings

University of Cambridge
#2Australian National University
University of Oxford
#4University of Melbourne
Imperial College London
=6University of Sydney
#8University of New South Wales
The University of Edinburgh
#15University of Queensland
University of Manchester
#28Monash University
King's College London
#37University of Western Australia
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
#56University of Adelaide
University of Bristol
=61University of Technology Sydney

*This list is based on the QS World University Rankings 2023

2. Popular Courses

For some, the beginning of your entire journey starts with choosing a subject that you want to study. The UK and Australia have excellent options for you if you want to select a destination based on your field of study. Here are a few of the popular courses that an international student can take in both countries:

Popular Universities for Subject-Specific Programs in the UK
Popular Universities for Subject-Specific Programs in Australia

Bioscience, health, and medicine:


Business Management:

Actuarial Science:

Business and administration studies:

Agricultural Sciences:

Computer Science:


Design studies:

Biomedical Engineering:


Core Engineering:


Earth Sciences:



Preclinical Medicine:

IT and Computer Science:

Sports and Exercise Science:


Subjects allied to medicine:

Tourism and Hospitality Management:

3. Tuition Fees

Regardless of where you decide to study, you must consider the cost of the degree you want to study. For both Australia and the UK, tuition fees depend on a few factors:

  • The university: Generally, the bigger the university and the greater its reputation, the higher the tuition fees. Public universities tend to cost less in tuition compared to private universities
  • The location: Universities in parts of the country where the cost of living is higher tend to have higher tuition fees. Typically, these are the universities in the big, metropolitan cities, whereas schools in the suburbs or countryside tend to be more affordable
  • Your program: Tuition fees at the same university may vary depending on the program you're enrolling in. These fees may depend on how resource-intensive the program is as well as how specialised the subject is. For example, programs in dentistry can cost several times higher than a linguistics degree
  • Your study level: Bachelor's degrees in the UK tend to be around 3 years long, meaning you get to complete your studies faster and perhaps at a lower total price tag than Canada or the USA. Depending on the university, Australian bachelor's degrees may be 3 or 4 years long. A postgraduate master's degree in either country may cost you less, because most programs are shorter than bachelor's, generally one to two years long.

The yearly tuition costs for international students in the UK for undergraduates and postgraduates might vary from GBP £11,000 to £32,000 and GBP £10,000 to £38,000 respectively.

The annual tuition cost for international undergraduates and postgraduates studying in Australia is roughly GBP £17,000 and £20,000 respectively. The cost of the degree depends on the course you choose to study as well as the university.

Below, we’re breaking down the average tuition fees for undergraduate students at moderately priced UK and Australian universities:

UK University Name
Tuition Fee Ranges Per Year (Undergraduate)
Australian University Name
Tuition Fee Ranges Per Year (Undergraduate)
Coventry University
University of Wollongong

£15,674 - £22,125

Brunel University
University of New England
£15,843.40 - £18,625
University of Northampton
£14,000 - £16,900
Victoria University
£15,090 - £20,040
Lancaster University
£20,930 - £38,500
James Cook University
£13,000 - £17,323.23
Queen’s University Belfast
£17,900 - £32,800
La Trobe University
£18,500 - £43,960

4. Semester Structure

Australia and the UK have almost the same semester structure. The major difference is that the academic year begins at different times for both countries. Most universities have a fixed number of semesters each year - generally there are 2-3 intakes per year.

There are two major intakes at UK universities, in September (Autumn) and January (Winter). The Autumn semester is the official start of the academic year. Although some universities offer a third intake in the summer, this is less popular and provides fewer course options.

In Australia, the academic year begins in February or March. Seasons have quite different meanings in Australia than what you may be familiar with. As the country is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons tend to be upside down. Semester 1 (Autumn) - starting at the beginning of the year - and Semester 2 (Spring) - starting in the middle of the year - are common at most universities. Some universities also provide a third intake for specific summer courses. These take place around September and November.

Intakes in Australia
Intakes in the UK
Semester 1 (Autumn)
Early February-March
Semester 2 (Spring)
Semester 3 (Summer)

5. Quality of Life

Studying in either Australia or the UK can be an amazing experience. The two countries are both well-known for their safe environments, quality of life, and highly educated populations.

Both the UK and Australia are home to some of the best student cities in the world. London continues to hold the #1 spot for the QS Best Student Cities rankings of 2023, with Melbourne close behind at #5. The UK and Australia are both culture hubs and melting pots, with diverse communities, rich history in immigration, and cosmopolitan nature that welcomes international students. As largely English-speaking countries with their own accents and slang, international students can navigate on- and off-campus environments with ease while picking up the local flavour of speech. Each country offers its own distinct history, culture, and cuisine, coexisting within a multicultural mosaic. Meanwhile, both countries also offer a range of natural landscapes and terrain to experience - from the mountains, beaches and the Outback in Australia, to the UK’s ridges, valleys, and quaint countrysides.

Don’t forget, the city you choose to live in will have a major impact on your overall cost of living. When it comes to buying groceries, food, or rent the cost of living is much higher in metropolitan cities like Sydney or London.

6. Work Opportunities

In order to take up part-time employment in the UK or Australia, you must meet a number of requirements. Your ability to work as an international student depends on various factors.

To you qualify for part-time employment in the UK, you must enrol in a full-time course provided by a university with the right authorisation to enrol international students. You are subject to certain work hour limitations based on your level of study. You may work 20 part-time hours per week at the degree level or higher. The good news is you can work full-time throughout yearly semester breaks! If your Student visa does not authorise part-time employment, you might still be able to get some work experience through internships or work placements that form part of your program.

In the case of Australia if you hold the Subclass 500 Student visa, you can work part-time as well. You have the right to work for 40 hours every two weeks. Like the UK, you can work full-time during semester breaks!

You should never go over the maximum number of hours you’re allowed to work as an international student. Doing so in either country could lead to visa cancellation and future visa rejections. If you’d like to work more, then the holidays are the right time to do so! 

7. Post-Study Opportunities

International students can apply for two-year Graduate route visas in the UK after completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Students who have earned a PhD may be eligible for three-year visas. Since these visas aren’t eligible for the extension, international students are free to apply for other UK visas such as the Skilled Worker Visa after their current one expires. When completing an application, students must be physically present in the UK and pay both the application cost and the healthcare extra.

If you want to live and work in Australia after graduating, then you should go for the Subclass 485 visa (Temporary Graduate Visa). You can stay and work in Australia for a certain period of time with this visa depending on your qualification level. You will need to search and apply for work independently. You have six months to apply for the visa after officially completing your degree. At the time of application, you must have a valid visa, and you must have had a student visa at some point in the previous six months.

Concluding Thoughts: The UK vs Australia for International Students

As we all know, Australia and the United Kingdom are highly desirable destinations for students all over the globe. You can choose your own destination based on the aspects that are important to you. If you were unsure about which country to select in the debate of the UK vs Australia for international students, we hope our highlights in this article have helped you decide. Now it's up to you to choose the country that best suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which country - the UK or Australia - is more welcoming to international students?

No matter how great the country is, you will always feel a little uneasy if you don't feel like you are welcome there. Fortunately, both the UK and Australia are very friendly to international students. Policies in Australia and the UK make it much easier for international students to study here. In fact, the education systems of both countries prioritise diversifying their campuses. As part of these efforts, they offer opportunities like international student scholarships to attract international students to their institutions.

Is it cheaper to study in the United Kingdom or Australia for international students?

Higher education in a foreign country will always be more expensive than education in your own country. International students have to pay more compared to the domestic students in the United Kingdom and Australia. Furthermore, tuition and living expenditures differ depending on the university, level of study, and even where in the country the university is. We recommend thoroughly researching the different ranges of tuition and living expenses to locate your ideal university.