Choosing a university: UK versus Australia 

Submitted by grace.mccabe on Tue, 08/09/2022 - 09:58

Australia and the UK are popular destinations for international students because of their highly ranked universities and exciting student lifestyle. To help you choose between them, we’ve included each step of the application process, as well as the differences in course structures and student life to help you choose which country might be more suitable for you.

The application process 

UK 

  • Students can apply to up to five universities via Ucas  
  • Applicants for medicine, dentistry or veterinary  courses can choose four universities and then their fifth choice must be non-specialist 
  • Applicants must complete one personal statement that is attached to all applications 
  • Students must also include grades, proof of English language ability, extracurricular activity and personal details
  • There is an application fee of £26

 
Australia 

  • Students must apply to their chosen universities directly and take note of entry requirements, application details and important dates and deadlines. 
  • International students often have the option to apply via post or online by downloading application forms from the university websites. 
  • Most applications require personal details, proof of English language ability, academic transcripts, course preferences and sometimes a summary of related employment experience. 
  • Most universities will charge a non-refundable application fee ranging from AUD$50 (£29) to AUD$100  – although some may drop this charge if you apply online so make sure you check.

Course structures 

UK 

  • Students choose their degree speciality before they begin university 
  • Students usually choose one subject or a joint/double degree 
  • Bachelor’s degrees often take three to four years to complete, master’s degrees usually take one year (when studying full-time), and PhD programmes can take three-plus years
  • Some degrees, such as medicine, will encourage practical experience after the first few years but most courses will only encourage internships and placements in the final year of the degree
  • It is uncommon for students to transfer universities if they wish to change course. They often have to drop out and begin the process again (although it is best to discuss with your university first as they may have a solution) 
     

Australia 

  • In first year, students take a range of classes in approximately four subjects each term 
  • It is common for students to choose two subjects for a double or combined degree 
  • Typical bachelor’s degrees will take three years, however combined courses or specific subjects may take longer 
  • Students are encouraged to take on internships and placements throughout their degree 
  • It is possible for domestic and international students to transfer to other universities; check your university’s transfer policy for more information

Accommodation and student life 

UK 

  • It is legal to drink alcohol from the age of 18 so students have the option to venture outside campus to pubs and clubs in the local area, as well as on campus
  • It is common for students to spend their first year in university rooms on campus and share kitchen and living spaces 
  • Students then move into privately rented accommodation in later years and often share the property with friends or classmates 
  • Students can join societies and sport teams to keep up their hobbies or try new activities or sports
  • Students can attend sport and social events organised by the university’s student union
     

Australia 

  • It is also legal to drink from the age of 18 in Australia. However, this is specifically for licensed public venues. The law to drink alcohol in private homes is different depending on what state you are in. Like in the UK, pub culture is a big part of socialising in Australia
  • It is popular for students to choose on-campus residential accommodation in Australia. However, a limited number of rooms are available so there is also the option of homestays, renting privately and apartments 
  • Many Australian universities are near the beach and students often spend time there between classes
  • Outdoor sports are very popular in Australia and there are opportunities for students to learn everything from rock climbing to scuba diving 
  • Student unions run many clubs and teams that you can join depending on your interests

The cost of studying at a university in Australia 
A guide to post-study work visas in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand

Everything international students need to know about UK student visas


Exams and teaching  

British and Australian universities are both known for innovative, high-quality teaching. Students are encouraged to study independently but there is also lots of support from their tutors and other departmental staff throughout the year and during exam season.

Classes consist of a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops with some practical lessons depending on your chosen subject.

Both countries use a percentage system when grading exams and assignments. In the UK, degrees are awarded as first-class honours (1:1), upper and lower second-class honours (2:1, 2:2) and third-class honours (3) depending on the percentage band that a student’s final grade falls into.

In Australian universities the system is similar, but the final awards are known as High Distinction (HD), Distinction (D), Credit (C) and Pass (P).

Cost and financial aid  

UK 

  • The average cost of a bachelor’s degree costs up to £30,000 per year for international students 
  • The average cost for a master’s degree is approximately £17,110 for international students 
  • Students with UK citizenship can apply to Student Finance for financial aid with their tuition fees and living expenses 
  • Many scholarships are available for international students to help with the cost of studying
  • Many students take on part-time jobs and this is possible for some international students depending on their visa restrictions 
     

Australia 

  • The average tuition fee for international students is AUSD$30,840 per year 
  • A master’s degree will cost between AUS$22,000 and AUSD$50,000 per year 
  • Students can take advantage of university, financial, government and private scholarships for help towards tuition and expenses 
  • It is common for students to work alongside their studies to help with expenses and fees. Students are allowed to work up to 40 hours every two weeks when university classes are in session and unlimited hours outside term time (but always check your visa allowance for more information)

Term dates 

Most UK universities start their first term in September, the second in January and the third in April, with breaks at Christmas and Easter.

In Australia, students have the choice to begin university in the first semester, which runs from March until June, or the second semester from July until October. Students who want to start in the first term need to apply by December at the latest and for the second term the deadline for applications is May. However, many domestic students apply much earlier than that so make sure you get your application in as early as you can. 

Now that you have all of the information about both countries, why not check out some more info about studying in Australia or the UK

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Are you trying to decide between the UK and Australia to study abroad? We’re here to help! 

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