What Makes The Australian University Experience Different From Any Other

Australian university life differs a lot from other countries. But what defines the typical Australian University Experience and how is this work-hard-play-hard lifestyle different to the rest of the world?

Australian University Life is different from other countries

Australia is a country that is admittedly oversaturated with media from its Western counterparts like the UK and the United States. Most of what is shown on TV about Western university life involves the sprawling, cult-ish, sorority-and-fraternity-dominated experience of studying in the USA. Or, the high-tone, super-studious, super-wealthy, maybe even magical wizardry of student life at Oxford or Cambridge (or Hogwarts!) in England.

Studying at an Australian university, however, is completely unique, and a beast of its own. You won’t find any Greek Life, hazing is ridiculed on most campuses, and there are no wizards in sight (unfortunately). Most of our movies and TV shows may be imported, but student life here is true-blue and distinctly Aussie – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Australian campuses can be gothic and reminiscent of a castle or museum, but are right next to a fast food joint, a surf shop, and overpopulated with unique Australian critters (look out for your campus possums!).

Quality of Life

City Universities

The quality of life in Australia is comparable to none. 236 days of sunshine a year with gorgeous summers and barely chilly winters. City life abounds with cultural hubs like museums, city markets, entertainment venues, and festivals. There are limitless opportunities for socialising, nightlife, cafes, sporting facilities, and, of course, the outdoors. The beach is always right on your doorstep! Nature here is really abundant, with incredible trails, hikes and reefs all over the country.

From Sydney with its iconic landmarks to Melbourne, the hub of the arts, to Gold Coast with its endless beaches. The small-town feel of Canberra, the food and wine of Adelaide, the incredible forests and landscapes of Perth…. Every Australian city has something for every kind of student.

Rural Universities

Even campuses in smaller or rural towns like Bathurst or Wollongong have spectacular facilities and gorgeous scenery. These towns are dedicated typically around the university. The lack of city life is made up by turning an entire town into a university student’s playground.

Australia: Sydney Opera House at night

Multicultural Melting Pot

The people around you come from all corners of the world and you’ll never feel like you’re out of place. It’s this combination of world-class education next to the trademarks of bogan culture, that truly defines the Australian University experience.

Australia is a total multicultural melting pot. You may be surprised to find how many different shops, cinemas, festivals, or cafes remind you of home. The most popular languages in Australia aside from English include Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Italian.

Diversity in Australian Campuses

The average Australian, while likely being relaxed and friendly and loving the beach, probably won’t be the blonde, tanned, Steve Irwin-type you might expect.

In fact, the average Australian is likely to be someone who celebrates and embraces diversity in all aspects of their identity, whether that be race, gender, class, or sexual orientation. Australia is an increasingly inclusive and diverse society, filled with all kinds of wonderful people from all over the world. And it’s the people that are going to truly define your Australian university experience.

Affordable Lifestyle

Students here can have the supreme quality of life while on a budget thanks to their chosen country of study. You can spend hours in pristine libraries powering through your studies, then put your books back in your backpack and head right to the beach on our uber-cheap public transport. There’s a certain degree of freedom to Australian university life, in that you can come in, do your class, and just go home after the hour and do whatever you please. It’s not what you’d expect of university, which sometimes feels all-encompassing and inescapable.

Student Housing

Additionally, many universities provide housing options that would be fit for uber-elite professionals let alone students on a budget. The Switch offers state-of-the-art student housing in super modern and purpose-built buildings with co-living options for young professionals and international students alike. And there are plenty of neighbourhoods around even notoriously expensive Sydney and Melbourne universities that can make living off-campus affordable and beyond comfortable. 

Historic University Building

Student Activities

A big part of an Australian university campus is the variety of student activities on offer. While we don’t have the fraternities or sororities you may be used to seeing in movies, there are plenty of far less exclusive clubs and societies you can join that are the cornerstone of Aussie student life. These clubs and societies throw almost weekly events like trivia, bar nights, study groups, and parties – and considering how many clubs there are, this means there’s always something happening on campus.

Australian University Landscape

There is a bigger, older group of eight universities – University of Western Australia, Monash University, Australian National University, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, UNSW Sydney, University of Queensland, and University of Sydney. These Australian Universities tend to have a bigger, richer campus life with more clubs and societies.

More niche and specialized are the technology universities or niche universities on city campuses – such as University of Technology Sydney (UTS), RMIT, and QUT – but student life and socialisation are a dominant part of the Australian university experience you will find wherever you go.

Group of friends smiling: Australian University Life is different from other countries

The Aussies Themselves

Part of what makes studying in Australia so unique is the Australians themselves. The humour, the laidback personalities, the casual drinking and informalities… It could be the people who represent the biggest culture shock of all.

You will probably find people showing up to class in flip-flops, or guys getting around campus on hot days without their shirts! Australians are relaxed above all else, and consider being “chill” the highest compliment. And they treat just about everything with a playfulness and refusal to take things too seriously.

Aussie Slang

Australians also love to shorten words, and the slang may be a bit frustrating to understand at first. For example, McDonalds is ‘Maccas’, Afternoon is ‘arvo’, Barbeque is ‘barbie’ and so on. We call each other ‘mate,’ sometimes, which means friend. It can be a bit jarring at first, but as Australians are so friendly, I’m sure anyone would love to break down our weird version of the English language. Otherwise, we’ve got the perfect Guide to Aussie Slang for you!

Group of men sitting on a mountain: Australian University Life is different from other countries

Work-hard-play-hard attitude

Australian students, however, appreciate and take advantage of their state-of-the-art educational resources. Australian universities are world-ranking and some of the best in the world. And Australian students, while definitely being laidback, emulate the attitude of ‘work-hard-play-hard.’

There are plenty of late nights hitting the books and the workloads are massive. Come finals week, the university bars will be deserted. There won’t be a soul on the local beach. Instead, you’ll struggle to find a desk to study in the library because everyone will be there instead. But the second the last exam is done? You can bet all the Australians will be firing up the barbecues and singing some silly song. 


All in all, there aren’t many movies or TV shows about what it’s like to have the Australian University Experience. But maybe this will give you more of an idea about what to expect. It’s an experience unlike any other, defined by laidback attitudes, academic vigour, and incredible quality of life.

So don’t come here if you’re expecting hazing or weird secret societies or a homecoming dance. Come if you’re looking for amazing landscapes, endless things to do, and some of the coolest people you’re likely to meet!

/The Switch