Australian universities rank among the best in the world, reputed as much for the quality of their academic programs and facilities as for their campus culture and social diversity. With the majority of students (76%) surveyed by Canstar Blue recognising that their university degree was vital for their future career prospects and 56% remembering university as the best time of their life from a social perspective, it’s clear that university provides more than just an education.
That’s why choosing the right university is an important decision. And from study options and career paths to campus life, student support, and where your friends go, there are many things to consider when making that choice.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 2,447 current students and graduates of the past 10 years to identify the universities students rated the best in Australia. There are a lot of university ratings out there, but we wanted to take a different approach by asking students to rate their university on a range of factors that were important to them and to understand how satisfied they were overall with their university experience. Please see our methodology here.
The winning university is the one that receives the highest Overall satisfaction rating once all the scores from the Overall satisfaction criteria are combined and averaged.
Universities must have received at least 30 responses to be included, so not all universities available in the market have been compared in this survey. In our 2023 student satisfaction review of the 40-plus public and private universities in Australia, we collected sufficient data for 33 universities (assessed by domestic and international students) to be included in our ratings. So, which are the highest-rated universities in Australia for student satisfaction?
Here are the universities in Australia that were included in Canstar Blue’s 2023 student satisfaction survey, listed below in alphabetical order.
|Australian Catholic University||NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, SA, ACT|
|Australian National University (ANU)||ACT|
|Central Queensland University (CQU)||QLD, VIC, NSW, WA, SA|
|Charles Sturt University (CSU)||NSW, VIC, QLD|
|Edith Cowan University (ECU)||WA, NSW|
|Federation University of Australia||VIC|
|La Trobe University||VIC|
|Queensland University of Technology (QUT)||QLD|
|Swinburne University of Technology||VIC|
|University of Adelaide||SA|
|University of Melbourne||VIC|
|University of New England (UNE)||NSW|
|University of Newcastle||NSW|
|University of New South Wales (UNSW)||NSW|
|University of Queensland (UQ)||QLD|
|University of South Australia (UniSA)||SA|
|University of Southern Queensland (USQ)||QLD|
|University of Sydney (USYD)||NSW|
|University of Tasmania (UTAS)||TAS|
|University of Technology Sydney (UTS)||NSW|
|University of the Sunshine Coast (USC)||QLD|
|University of Western Australia (UWA)||WA|
|University of Wollongong (UOW)||VIC|
|Victoria University (VU)||VIC|
|Western Sydney University (WSU)||NSW|
Our ratings reveal which Australian universities were rated best (five stars) for overall student satisfaction nationally and by state.
La Trobe University topped our universities research, with students and graduates giving it top marks as the best-rated university in Australia in terms of overall student satisfaction. The university also received five stars for teaching staff, student support available and campus amenities.
Our study also saw Australian National University, Central Queensland University, Deakin University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Melbourne, University of New England, University of Queensland, University of Technology Sydney and the University of Western Australia all receive five star ratings in at least category, indicating that there’s plenty of quality education options available around the country.
La Trobe University is a public university based in Victoria, with multiple campuses around Melbourne for students to attend. Established in 1964, La Trobe University offers a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, including disciplines in arts, communication, criminology, engineering, IT, science, business and commerce, education, health, law and more, postgraduate and graduate research degrees also offered. La Trobe additionally offers a number of short courses to help students quickly upskill in areas such as cyber security, education, health and counselling, helping to further your career or workplace skills. Similarly, there’s also online courses, allowing those outside metro areas to still attend courses online, with part-time study options also available, in addition to TAFE pathways and other various direct applications available to cater for a number of student needs and goals.
Griffith University was rated five stars for quality of education received, student support available, learning resources, opportunities & career opportunities after graduation, as well as overall satisfaction.
Griffith University offers a ‘Digital Campus’ for online students to help ensure students get both the educational and social aspects of university life. If you’re new to online study, Griffith University also offer a range of videos and guides to showcase what to expect, ensuring that you feel comfortable as soon as you log in. There’s also over 100 degrees available to complete online, giving you plenty to choose from.
Macquarie University was rated five stars for campus amenities and overall student satisfaction.
Established in 1964, Macquarie University is a public university that offers a variety of courses and areas of study, including traditional areas such as business, law, arts, media, education and science, along with languages, social sciences, security and criminology, with undergraduate, postgraduate and master’s degrees available. Macquarie University’s campus is located in the Sydney CBD, allowing students to be close to the action, while additionally offering online courses.
Central Queensland University was rated five stars for student support available, teaching staff, learning resources, opportunities & career prospects after graduation, quality of education received and overall student satisfaction.
Originally established as the regional branch of the Queensland University of Technology, it became an official university in 1992, with the university aiming to cater to those in more rural areas of Queensland. With multiple campuses, including in Brisbane, Emerald, Gladstone, Mackay, Bundaberg and Cairns, CQUniveristy covers major areas of study for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, with online options also available, in addition to TAFE certificate and diplomas.
Read more: The best-rated universities in Queensland
The University of Adelaide was rated five stars for teaching staff, learning resources, quality of education received and overall student satisfaction.
One of the oldest universities in Australia, the University of Adelaide was established in 1874, and today offers a wide variety of degrees, with study areas including agriculture, food & wine, veterinary sciences, defence, law, media, medicine, music, psychology, teaching, technology and more, along with postgraduate and online studying opportunities. The University of Adelaide also ranked within the top 100 in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.
La Trobe University was rated five stars for student support available, teaching staff, learning resources, opportunities & career prospects after graduation, campus amenities and overall student satisfaction.
Offering a variety of courses for students to choose from, La Trobe offers multiple campuses for students to learn at, with research partnerships and short courses also available in addition to the traditional areas of study for both post and undergraduates.
Read more: The best-rated universities in Victoria
The University of Western Australia was rated five stars for learning resources, student support available, teaching staff, quality of education received, opportunities & career prospects after graduation and overall student satisfaction.
Established in 1911 on the west coast of Australia, the University of Western Australia offers a range of traditional areas to study, including architecture, business, education, health, humanities, law, music and psychology, with degrees including those for human rights, modern languages, earth sciences, cybersecurity, sport science and automation and robotics engineering, to name a few. The University of Western Australia was also ranked with the top 100 of the 2024 QS World University Rankings.
Current and past students surveyed by Canstar Blue were asked to name the key reasons for choosing their university. The main factors identified included the reputation of the university, acceptance of enrolment from the university, and the physical location of the campuses. These are the reasons students and graduates cited for choosing their university:
We cover some of these factors in more detail below.
Our research revealed that more than a third of survey respondents (39%) visited their university campus before attending university. This is a good way to familiarise yourself with your new place of study and to ensure it has all the amenities and facilities you need for successful university life. Facilities and amenities you might want to consider could include access to public transport, adequate parking, lockers, libraries, cafeterias, Wi-Fi – and a university bar or entertainment facilities (naturally!). More than a third of respondents to our survey (42%) used the amenities available on campus such as those mentioned above, while 46% said their university provided modern facilities relevant to their study discipline (i.e. science labs, media rooms, computer labs, etc).
Having a good academic and social support system while at university can also make it easier to stay the course and succeed in your studies. Almost half of the students surveyed (49%) said they learned a lot from their university tutors, and 38% reported having learned from their peers as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw most of the higher education sector transition to online and remote learning to facilitate studying from home and to support students in completing their studies during unprecedented times. However, ‘hybrid learning’ − whereby students attend some classes in person and some virtually from home − is here to stay. In fact, a quarter of past and current students we surveyed (24%) undertook some kind of online study, while 25% tried a mixed model of in-person and virtual classes.
Technology has made online learning far more accessible in a rapidly changing world, as well as providing students with greater opportunities to tailor their education to their needs. A good online learning program also makes university study more accessible for working adults who need to incorporate education into their busy lives and for those who require flexibility around course workloads and times. Online study options are also worth considering if nearby universities don’t offer programs in your study field.
Read more: The pros and cons of online learning
If you’re unsure of which university to choose, a good first step can be to ask those closest to you who attended university for their feedback on these institutions and use that as a starting point for your independent research. On that note, 15% of students we surveyed chose their university because their friends or family went there. Just keep in mind that university experience is based on a lot of factors – your field of study, campus culture, amenities, teaching staff and more – and people will place different degrees of importance on different factors, so be sure to focus on what you value and want out of your study experience rather than on what someone else has to say.
Going to university can be as much about networking, making industry connections and new friends, and enjoying a new way of life as it is about receiving a high-quality education. A third of the students we surveyed (38%) generally looked back at their time at university fondly, and 49% said their university had a welcoming and supportive culture. The majority of respondents also said that university was the best time of their lives from a social perspective. Considering that most degrees last a few years, you’ll likely want to make sure your institution has a positive and welcoming environment.
Read more: The benefits of studying in Australia
Canstar Blue has a collection of the best deals on student phone plans in Australia. Find out if you could save more on a new phone plan.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Site Editor, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.
Samantha Howse is Canstar Blue’s Consumer Research Specialist, coordinating the consumer research program behind our customer satisfaction awards across Canstar and Canstar Blue in Australia and New Zealand. Sam has earned a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Griffith University and, with seven years in market research and 2 years in marketing, she is experienced in survey design, implementation and analysis, coupled with an understanding of marketing principles and best practice.
Undergraduate degrees that typically take three to four years can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000 in total for Australian citizens studying in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP), where the government pays part of your fees. This includes some universities, Technical and Further Education (TAFE), and other higher education providers. Tuition fees for international undergraduate students are more expensive and vary between $15,000 and $40,000 per year. International students pay more in tuition fees because most aren’t eligible for government subsidies like HECS-HELP. We’ve got an article that explains the cost of university in Australia further if you’re considering formal study.
There are scholarships, grants and bursaries available to domestic and international students across both the higher education and vocational sectors. Some common scholarship programs include the Australia Awards Scholarships and the International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS). Most universities also have their own scholarship programs. Scholarships are awarded based on merit and applicants typically have to demonstrate their suitability for the scholarship. There are no qualifying exams for scholarships in Australia. Here’s more information on getting a scholarship in Australia if you’d like to explore your eligibility.
You can generally switch university degrees if you decide that what you’re studying isn’t right for you or for other professional or personal reasons, although this may not apply to scholarship students. It may be advisable to check out switching options when comparing universities before you decide on a particular institution. And if you’re already enrolled in a course program and wish to switch, you may need to talk to your department office or course tutor about possible credit point transfers. Keep in mind that you’ll need to satisfy your preferred degree’s entry requirements before you can apply.
Our research revealed that just over a tenth of students (13%) switched their university degrees. When asked about the reasons for the change, they said:
There are many benefits to studying in Australia. As home to some of the world’s top universities as ranked in the QS World University Rankings and other world rankings, Australia is the third most popular destination for international students in the English-speaking world, behind only the US and the UK, according to Study Australia.
Some of the main benefits of studying in Australia include:
The QS World University Rankings rate the world’s top universities and feature more than 1,300 higher education institutions from around the world. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Oxford, Stanford University, the University of Cambridge and Harvard University are typically ranked high on this list. If you’re looking for top-ranked universities in your state or city, you can filter the QS World University Rankings by location and region. Other university rankings worth checking out include the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and The Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE). Here’s more of what we found when looking at the most prestigious universities in the world.
Here are the past winners from Canstar Blue’s university ratings:
New South Wales Universities
South Australian Universities
Western Australian Universities