The best-rated universities in New South Wales

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New South Wales is renowned for having some of the best universities in the country and is the most popular Australian destination for international students. Whether you’re thinking of undertaking an undergraduate bachelor’s degree or looking to pursue post-grad qualifications, you’re spoilt for choice in NSW when selecting the university that’s best for your career prospects, student support needs and campus culture preferences.

These factors are common drivers of university choice; 64% of students surveyed by Canstar Blue said their university degree was vital for their future career prospects, while 51% said university was the best time of their life from a social perspective. It’s clear that where you choose to study matters.

That’s why Canstar Blue surveyed more than 500 current students and graduates of the past 10 years to find which universities they rated the best in NSW. There are many 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, including how satisfied they were overall with their experience.

In our 2021 student satisfaction review, we collected enough data from eight public and private universities (assessed by domestic students) on eight categories: quality of education received, learning resources, student support available, teaching staff, career opportunities and prospects after graduation, campus amenities, social aspects and overall satisfaction. Please see our methodology here.

So, which are the highest-rated universities in New South Wales for student satisfaction?

Which NSW universities were included in our 2021 ratings?

Here are the universities in NSW that were included in Canstar Blue’s 2021 student satisfaction survey, listed below in alphabetical order.

University Locations
Macquarie University Sydney
University of New England (UNE) Armidale & regional centres
University of Newcastle Newcastle
University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney & regional centres
University of Sydney Sydney & regional centres
University of Technology Sydney Sydney
University of Wollongong (UOW) Sydney, Wollongong & regional centres
Western Sydney University (WSU) Sydney

Most Satisfied Students – University of New England

Best universities in New South Wales

The University of New England (UNE) topped our universities review for New South Wales, rating best for overall student satisfaction. The public university, which has campuses in Sydney, Armidale and regional study centres, also rated five stars for its quality of education, learning resources, student support services and teaching staff.

Our ratings also saw several other universities rated five stars in key areas. This included the University of Wollongong, which rated five stars for its social aspects, campus amenities and learning resources, and the University of Sydney, which received a five-star rating for career opportunities and prospects after graduation. The University of NSW was rated five stars for its teaching staff.

What is the University of New England known for?

The University of New England is predominantly an online university. It was the first Australian university established outside a state capital city. It’s also the longest continual provider of distance education (since the 1950s) and Australia’s top online university, according to Online Study Australia. UNE has a large network of campuses, with multiple metro and regional locations and offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in dozens of disciplines including business and finance, law, social and health sciences, engineering and more. There are also bespoke courses available for students who want to pick and choose their qualifications.

The University of New England is consistently recognised as one of the best universities in Australia for postgraduate student satisfaction, as measured by the Student Experience Survey (SES), which is conducted every year by Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) for the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. It was also top-ranked for its student support, postgraduate teaching quality and overall student experience by the Good Universities Guide.

Does the University of New England offer online learning?

The University of New England is Australia’s second-largest online university and Australia’s top online university, according to Online Study Australia. It has a comprehensive online learning program for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, and its online offering is rated among the best in arts, business, education and science. Online courses are available across 14 study areas, including IT and data science, education and training, psychology and mental health, environmental science and law and criminology. There are also research degrees and pathway-to-university programs available online. Most students at UNE choose to study online across three study periods with 24/7 tutor support available.

Australian & State University Ratings 2021

Best university in NSW

Interested in finding out how students rated other top universities from around Australia? Click on the links below to read more about the top-rated universities in the country.

How many universities are there in NSW?

There are 11 universities in New South Wales, most of which are based in Sydney and several of which have appeared in world university rankings such as the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). Most of these universities also have regional study centres. NSW also has several tertiary education providers such as Technical and Further Education (TAFE), the Academy of Information Technology, JMC Academy and other vocational education and training providers.

Is the University of NSW better than Sydney University?

The University of New South Wales is known for its leading business courses and programs in the fields of engineering, finance, law, architecture, art and design, medicine and science. It’s also known for offering more practical learning programs. The University of Sydney, meanwhile, which is informally known as Sydney University or USyd, has a reputation for a more streamlined academic approach, with a focus on comprehensive research and post-grad studies. The University of Sydney also has a well-regarded law school.

What is the best-rated university in Sydney?

Best university in NSW

Our university ratings saw the University of New England place number one for overall student satisfaction. The University of Wollongong, which also has campuses in Sydney, and USyd were rated second and third respectively.

There are other prestigious institutions in Sydney and NSW worth considering for your studies, however, so be sure to check out other university rankings for guidance on which rank well for education excellence, graduate outcomes and student experience. Some rankings worth investigating include the QS World University Rankings, the ARWU and The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

What to consider when choosing a university

Current and past students surveyed by Canstar Blue were asked to name the key reasons for choosing their university. The main factors identified included reputation of university, acceptance of enrolment and physical location.

  • Reputation of university & courses: 47%
  • Application to study was accepted: 47%
  • Location: 43%
  • Facilities (i.e. campus facilities, technology in library, classrooms, etc.): 26%
  • Friends or family went to the same university: 21%
  • Received a scholarship to attend: 12%
  • Extra-curricular activities (i.e. colleges, sporting and social opportunities, clubs, etc.): 10%

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