The Best Australian Universities by Rankings in 2021

Australia is one of the most perfect places in the world that you could find yourself in with its dazzling cities, quaint country-side and sunny beaches. Brimming with universities that reside amongst the very best even on a global scale, Australia is an ideal site for both international and local students. In this article, we will be ranking the top universities of Australia.

Although many would say that the ranking of a university isn’t an end-all decider of whether one should choose it, it’s undeniably important for one’s future regardless. A simple number connotes plenty – the quality of the university, the reputation of one’s degree, the calibre of its education. There’s a reason why employers worldwide wait eagerly for university ranking methodologies to release their annual findings.

This article will be using the reputable QS World University Rankings 2021 to rate the top universities of Australia. Click here for a complete list of the universities in Australia.

As a side note, each university and their respective programs have specific entry requirements and more often, certain entry tests that you would need to complete. Here’s a few resources for you to go through:

Important Factors

Nevertheless, you should also consider these factors:

Location of campus(es)

A university’s locale is absolutely crucial, you wouldn’t want to be bored to death in a country-side campus if you are one for the city nightlife and similarly, if you enjoy a peaceful environment you wouldn’t want to be trapped in a bustling city that never sleeps. Furthermore, certain places would hurt your pockets a lot more than others would.

Though certain universities offer multiple campuses sprawled across differing surroundings, offering students some flexibility, you should also keep in mind that the program you want to enrol in may not be available on the campus you are interested in.

Educational Disciplines available

While we are on the topic of programs offered, you must ensure that the university you are keen on attending would teach the course that you plan to learn. No matter how high-ranking a university is, it’ll be useless to you if it doesn’t teach you anything that you are passionate about. Thankfully, most of the high ranking universities soon to be listed do indeed have a diverse portfolio with hundreds of degrees available.

Employability Rate of its graduates

You’d obviously want to find a job and a livelihood after working so hard on your studies. This article will be listing the employability rates of the top 10 universities in accordance with the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020.

Student Satisfaction in the universities

Your comfort and satisfaction with a university, its communities and its teachings should be prioritised. This article will be listing the Student Satisfaction of each university in accordance with the 2019 Student Experience Survey conducted by Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

Accolades and Accomplishments of the university

The accomplishments of a university and the accolades they have received are often good indicators of the quality of the university and what they excel in. Furthermore, you’d want to be proud to be able to say that you belong to your university, if it’s as acclaimed as the high ranking universities soon to be listed, you would definitely not have a problem with that.

Prices of the university’s courses

As all of the universities soon to be listed are highly esteemed, they are often more taxing on one’s pockets. The prices between the many programs offered often differ even in the university itself, moreover, international and local students are often subject to different fee structures. You must do a proper survey of how much your intended course would cost and compare it with similar courses offered in other universities.

Australia’s Best Universities

Without further ado, let’s take a look at Australia’s best universities as decided by the QS World University Rankings 2021.

 

10. University of Wollongong

Location(s): Wollongong, Bega, Batemans Bay, Moss Vale, Shoalhaven, Sydney

Employability Rank: 42.4-43, 13th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 81, 10th in the country

The University of Wollongong is a young university that recently earned the honour of being the 10th best university in Australia. Mainly based in Wollongong, the institution made the city proud with a meteoric rise globally, jumping a total of 16 spots and placing as the 196th best in the world.

Manned by about 2000 staff, the university also owns several regional campuses as listed above. A diverse university with 30% of its makeup being international students, the University of Wollongong proffers an assortment of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs, over 300 in fact, through its 5 faculties of Business; Law, Humanities and Arts; Engineering and Informational Sciences; Medicine and Health; and Social Sciences.

Of the bounty of courses provided, its programs of Teacher Education in particular impresses, the university was rated the best for that subject matter in the whole of Australia by QILT 2017. Its Health Services and Support; Medicine, Agriculture and Environment Studies, and Creative Arts courses don’t let down either, Australian Good Universities Guide 2019 have touted the University of Wollongong as being the school for those subjects.

Home to over 280 start-up entrepreneurs and a multitude of research centres, it’s a university strong in researching as well. The upkeep of its citations per faculty indicator reflects on the superb quality of research that had aided in its progression of rising up the rungs of the top universities.

As stated, its students are the 10th most satisfied bunch in the country, consequently, the university owns the second-highest student satisfaction in New South Wales. Although it isn’t in the top 10 for graduate employability rates, it still impresses with the 13th spot, consistently ranking within the top 1% for graduate quality in the world.

However, you should be aware that the main campus may not be suited for those that crave the urban livelihood as Wollongong isn’t as bustling of a city like many others. Its student to faculty ratio had also lagged behind in recent years.

 

9. University of Technology Sydney

Location(s): Sydney

Employability Rank: 55.5-57.7, 7th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 77.4, 32nd in the country

Solely based on a small campus within Sydney, it educates its students in the dazzling city’s CBD. Despite its youth, it had advanced through the scores of universities, leaping over 7 ranks to claim its spot as the 133rd best in the world and the 9th best Australian university in 2021. It’s the single best “young university” in Australia and the 11th best internationally.

A fantastic institution that continues to rapidly improve, the University of Technology Sydney offers undergraduate and postgraduate options in the form of 300 courses that range from the sciences to business, architecture to law, education to design. As part of the Australian Technology Network, it closely corroborates with industries and governmental bodies to deliver their practical courses.

Its courses in Nursing, Arts and Design and Sports and Exercise stand out in particular, with its teaching of each of them being respectively ranked as the 10th, 23rd and 24th best in the world (QS Subject Rankings 2019). Its employability rates are also sky-high, landing at the 7th spot nationally and the 69th spot globally.

Serving as a home for 50 odd research centres, it also excels in researching with its superb scores in citations per faculty, its high scores consistently landing within the top 100 in the world.

However, you should be aware that its student satisfaction rankings are amongst the lowest for a top Australian university, being ranked as the 32nd place, it’s easily in the bottom half of all Australian universities. Further, admission to the university is highly competitive with an acceptance rate of 19%. Its campus is also comparatively small.

 

8. University of Adelaide

Location(s): Adelaide, Melbourne

Employability Rank: 42.4-43, 12th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 79.0, 23rd in the country

Represented by 3 of its campuses sprawled across Adelaide’s city centre and fields and a campus in Melbourne. Australia’s third oldest university is honoured as the 8th best Australian university, placing as the 106th globally.

The University of Adelaide contains 400 odd courses spread throughout its 5 faculties of Mathematics; Health and Medical Sciences; Sciences; Arts; and Professions which are further made up of an assortment of schools, each teaching a specific subject.

Its subjects on mineral and mining engineering, dentistry, nursing and veterinary science are ranked amongst the best in the world according to QS World University Rankings 2021, each landing the coveted spot of the 26th, 31st, 42nd and 43rd in their fields.

As part of the research-based “Group of Eight” in Australia, the institution excels in researching. Its research contributions even from decades ago had aided in the development of the modern world we know of today. As one of the most research-intensive Australian universities, it had successfully sought after many opportunities, being the university involved with the highest number of commercial research agreements in the country.

With a third of Australia’s Nobel Laureates and 110 Rhodes scholars being the university’s alumni, it is evident that their quality of teaching is superb with its small classes and admirable student to staff ratio. Its graduates being the 12th most employable in the nation also reflects upon the quality of the education the university offers.

However, you should be aware that the university ranks among the bottom half in Australia for student satisfaction. It should also be noted that on-campus accommodation isn’t offered on three of its campuses.

 

7. University of Western Australia

Location(s): Perth, Albany

Employability Rank: 44.7-46.3, 11th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 79.7, 16th in the country

The first university in Western Australia ranks as the 7th best university in Australia, it’s regularly within the top 100 universities worldwide, placing as the 92nd in 2021.

With its huge 160-acres main campus being 10 minutes away from Perth’s CBD, the University of Western Australia has a portfolio of more than 200 programs that are taught within its 6 faculties of Arts, Business, Law and Education; Health and Medical Sciences; Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; Sciences; Graduate Research School; and School of Indigenous Studies.

The quality of its undergraduate programs was listed as the second-best in the nation by the Melbourne Institute Index Ranking. According to Academic Ranking of World Universities Subjects Ranking 2019, it’s the single best-suited Australian university for these subjects: Clinical Medicine, Agricultural Science, Marine Science, Biological Science and Environmental Science & Engineering, ranking within the top 50 globally as well.

A member of the “Group of Eight”, as 80% of the region’s research funds goes to it, it’s the leading research university in Western Australia with over 80 research centres under its belt. It scored the highest amongst Australian universities when it comes to the number of citations per faculty member. The employability of its graduates doesn’t let down either, being at the 11th spot nationally.

It educated over 100 Rhodes scholars and its list of leading alumni is extensive with even a Prime Minister hailing from there.

However, you should be aware that several of its winning rankings had dipped slightly in recent years like its student to faculty ratio. The university had dropped 5 places globally from 2020 to 2021.

 

6. Monash University

Location(s): Melbourne, Frankston

Employability Rank: 65, 6th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 78.6, 24th in the country

The University of Monash claims the title of the 6th best Australian university, landing as the 55th best globally, a huge jump from the 7th best Australia university and its 92nd spot within the world. Priding itself as Australia’s largest university with its international reach and campuses, it consistently ranks among the top 50-70 universities in the world. Within the country, it has 5 campuses sprawled across Melbourne and its surroundings.

It offers an astounding number of courses with 6000 available through 10 faculties which are the faculties of Arts; Art, Design and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Information Technology; Engineering; Law; Science; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Among these courses, it absolutely excels with those of clinical sciences. As displayed in QS Subjects Ranking 2020, It achieved the international rank of 2nd for Pharmacy & Pharmacology, 14th for Nursing, 30th for Anatomy and Physiology, and 31st for Medicine. It doesn’t let up in the other departments either, scoring high ranks globally for Law, Accounting, Philosophy, Engineering, Education and Performing Arts.

It’s a “Group of Eight” research university and naturally, it’s well versed with it, owning more than 120 research centres that conduct studies in more than 150 fields. Its graduates are amongst the most employable in the country. The institution is perfect for international students who’d like to study either within their own countries or in Australia as it had obtained a perfect score on the international students indicator.

However, you should be aware that if you are uncomfortable with large classes, this university may not be apt for you as it has a skewed students to faculty ratio. Moreover, it belongs in the bottom half in terms of student satisfaction.

 

5. University of Queensland

Location(s): Brisbane, Lockyer Valley Region

Employability Rank: 68, 4th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 80.0, 13th in the country

The oldest university that resides in Queensland achieved the rank of the 5th best Australian university and the honour of being in the top 50 globally, placing as the 46th. Its stunning main campus is located in the suburbs of Brisbane. With a third of its make-up being international students, it’s truly a diverse global university.

Nearly 400 courses are available in the university, many of its subjects have earned the institution much acclaim. As per the QS Subjects Ranking 2021, the University of Queensland ranked in the top 50 internationally for 21 of its subjects. It’s the best university in the country for learning Agriculture and Forestry, Environmental Sciences and with over 100 Olympians from it, it’s truly the nation’s best for Sports-Related Subjects.

Incorporated with over 100 research institutions and affiliated with over 400 global partners, its dedication to research further impresses. With a focus on medicine, technology and science, it had been declared by the Australian Research Council as the second research university in the country. That comes to no surprise as it’s a “Group of Eight” university, a founding member of “edX” and its Nature Index Table’ 2019’s “no.1 University in Australia for Research”. Truly a heavy-weight in this department.

With such accolades, it’s graduates’ sky-high employability rates are naturally at the 4th spot nationally. Its student satisfaction rate is satisfyingly high as well. It possesses a stunning alumni line-up with over a 100 Rhodes Scholars and Olympians.

However, you should be aware that the university’s emphasis on the faculty of Humanities has declined throughout the years, and if you are interested in that subject matter, the University of Queensland may not be apt for you.

 

4. University of New South Wales

Location(s): Sydney, Canberra

Employability Rank: 83.5, 3rd in the country

Student Satisfaction: 62.9, 43rd in the country

The 4th place belongs to the University of New South Wales which ranked as the 44th globally. Most of its facilities are based in the suburbs of Kensington, Sydney. It’s a school filled with international students as they make up for almost half of its studying community.

Over 400 degree courses are offered through its faculties of Arts, Design & Architecture; Engineering; Business School; Law; Medicine; and Science. Of these courses, 23 of their subjects made it into the top 50 of their respective fields as per the QS Subjects Ranking 2020. Its subjects are rated first by the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020, appearing in 52 out of 54 education disciplines.

A founding member of the “Group of Eight”, the university had topped the ratings of the “Excellence in Research for Australia” report. With an 8000 strong research community, its research manpower is one of the highest in the nation.

Ranked 40th in the world for academic reputation, it’s the number one institution for start-up entrepreneurs. Its students are one of the most sought graduates in the country, the third most to be specific. Its alumni are leading experts in many fields, in fact, the university produces the most millionaires in the country. That speaks volumes of the quality education it provides.

However, you should be aware that the student satisfaction regarding the university is at its lowest, literally at the bottom-most rung of all the universities in the country. This sharp decline could be traced back to the fact that it has changed its two-term academic year to a trimester-system, hassling many.

 

3. University of Melbourne

Location(s): Melbourne, Shepparton, Creswick, Dookie

Employability Rank: 94.9, 2nd in the country

Student Satisfaction: 77.6, 29th in the country

Claiming the 3rd place nationally and the 41st place internationally is Australia’s second-oldest university. The University of Melbourne mainly resides in the city, suburbs and surrounding towns of Melbourne.

The university’s course structure is unique within the country, penned as the “Melbourne Model”, it doesn’t offer a wide variety of specialised undergraduate courses, instead, it chooses to distribute 9 generalised degrees which are the Bachelors of Arts, Agriculture, Biomedicine, Commerce, Design, Fine Arts, Music, Oral Health and Science. On the other hand, the university does offer specialised postgraduate courses, 400 of them in fact.

This would mean that if you want a specialised degree from the University of Melbourne, you may have to take a 3-year generalised course first. Regardless of this shift, the institution performs exceedingly well in regards to its teachings. Its courses on Law, Education, Accounting and Finance, Social Policy and Administration and Sociology are among the top 20 best in the nation according to the QS Subjects Ranking 2020.

Another member of the “Group of Eight”, hosting more than 8500 active researchers, its research cohort is the largest in the country. Center for World Universities Ranking had given the university the honour of being the best in the country in terms of research output and citations for the years of 2018 and 2019.

Its students are the 2nd most employable in the nation and 7th in the world. With a fantastic teaching staff that contains even Nobel Laureates, that fact comes as no surprise.

However, you should be aware that its unique course structure in regards to its undergraduate programmes may possibly work to your detriment. The university’s shift from 96 specialised undergraduate programmes to the generalised one we have now was a controversial move, you may be forced to spend additional years in a postgraduate programme in order to receive a specialised education that you want or need.

 

2. University of Sydney

Location(s): Sydney

Employability Rank: 98, 1st in the country

Student Satisfaction: 74.2, 42nd in the country

The first-runner up for the year 2021 is none other than the University of Sydney. Positioned in the bustling Sydney is the first university of the nation, its historic main campus has been declared by the “Daily Telegraph” and the “Huffington Post” as one of the most beautiful universities in the world. Nearly half of its student population consists of international students.

A diverse university that offers a plethora of disciplines with 400 odd areas of studies. These courses are taught through 8 faculties: Arts and Social Sciences; Engineering; Medicine and Health; Science; Architecture, Design and Planning; Business; Music and Law. As per the QS Subjects Rankings 2020, it’s one of the top 50 universities in the world for 21 subjects.

Its courses on Sports-Related Subjects, Law, Nursing and Veterinary Sciences are particularly splendid with each of them being within the top 20 of their respective fields. The university’s courses are also well manned with a healthy 19 to 1 student/faculty ratio.

As another university within the “Group of Eight”, its research is superb as well. With over 90 research centres, it focuses on solving sizable societal issues. It was crowned the top spot nationally for its research impact by the CWTS Leiden Rankings 2017.

With 7 of Australia’s Prime Ministers hailing from the University of Sydney, its lineup of alumni is star-studded. Its graduates are some of the most employable in the world, placing at the 4th place internationally and the 1st place within the country.

However, you should be aware that its student satisfaction doesn’t match up with its accomplishments above. It’s ranked the second-lowest nationally. It would have been ranked the lowest if it wasn’t for the University of New South Wales’ trimester blunder.

 

1. Australian National University

Location(s): Canberra, Kioloa, Brinkin

Employability Rate: 65, 5th in the country

Student Satisfaction: 79.6, 17th in the country

Even after a full decade, the Australian National University still reigns as the champion of Australian universities. With its iron-grip on the title of the single best university in the country, it’s ranked as the 31st on an international scale.

Mainly based in the capital of the nation, Canberra, Australia’s only national university has a diverse portfolio of single degrees, double degrees and vertical double degrees that are administered through its 7 academic colleges of Arts and Social Sciences; Asia and the Pacific; Business and Economics; Engineering and Computer Science; Medicine, Biology and Environment; Physical & Mathematical Sciences; and Law.

It’s considered to be one of the top 20 best universities in the world for the courses of Geology, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, Development Studies and Linguistics. Its academic staff are considered by the Good Universities Guide to be the most qualified in the country as 95% of them own Masters or PhD qualifications, the highest proportion within the nation. Its teachers don’t read from textbooks, they are academic leaders that write them.

Known for its fantastic student to faculty ratio, these excellent teachers will be able to get to know you and vice versa. Not only is the university a member of the “Group of Eight”, it’s also the only Australian university affiliated with the “International Alliance of Research Universities” that involves the likes of Cambridge and Oxford. Needless to say, its research is impeccable.

The institution’s graduates are the 5th most attractive for employers in the nation and its students are mostly satisfied with the university. The university ranks across all the needed indicators exceedingly well, it’s the reigning best Australian universities for years for a reason.

However, you should be aware that admissions into the Australian National University are highly competitive at a 35% acceptance rate. After all, it’s expected that the number 1 Australian university would have an air of exclusivity to it.

Final Words

With all the top universities in the nation thoroughly listed, we hope that you will walk away from this article informed of which institution you intend to strive for.