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Should I study abroad in the UK or Australia?

Compare studying in the UK and Australia for international students. Discover the pros and cons, quality of education, entry requirements and more.

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Jan 10, 2024

Introduction

When it comes to pursuing higher education abroad, the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia are two prominent choices for international students. Both countries offer world-class universities, diverse cultures, and a wide range of study options. 

In this article, we provide valuable insights into the pros and cons of studying in the UK versus Australia to help you make an informed decision.

Quality of Education

The quality of education is a critical factor for international students. 

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, the UK ranks as the second-best study-abroad destination, while Australia holds the fifth position. 

Furthermore, the QS World University Rankings 2022 reveal that the UK boasts eight universities in the top 50 globally, with 90 universities in total. Four of these institutions rank in the global top 10, and an additional 20 universities are within the global top 50. While Australia shines in research institutes and has three universities in the top 20, it is important to note that Australia excels in academic reputation, citations, international faculty ratio, and international research. However, it lags behind in faculty-student ratio due to significant job cuts during the pandemic. The UK also surpasses Australia in the proportion of international students.

 

Entry Requirements

Both the UK and Australia require at least 12 years of pre-university education, making it easier for international students to gain admission. Additionally, some universities may even waive the TOEFL or IELTS English proficiency tests, depending on your other academic qualifications.

Programme Duration

Undergraduate programmes in the UK generally last three years, while postgraduate programmes take one year. In contrast, Australian undergraduate programmes typically span 3-4 years, with postgraduate programs lasting one to two years. Additionally, Australian Master's programs usually run for 1.5 to 2 years, starting in February or March for the first semester and July or August for the second. The UK's master's programs typically last one year and follow a two-term academic calendar, commencing in September and January.

Grading Systems

The UK employs a percentage-based grading system, where 70% or above is considered a first-class grade. UK master's degrees consist of 180 credits distributed among various modules, each with varying credit values. The final grade for each module takes into account the weighting of assessments and grades achieved, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of a student's performance. In contrast, Australia uses an alphabet-based grading system based on a GPA scale, with 4.0 being the highest. The Australian credit system assigns credits to subjects based on the expected weekly workload, with values typically ranging from 6 to 8 credits.

Cost of Studying

The cost of living and school fees is a critical consideration for international students planning to study abroad. 

 

Tuition fees vary based on the degree and institution. For instance, medical and veterinary degrees are significantly more expensive. In Australia, average annual tuition fees at tertiary institutions range between AUD 20,000 (SGD 21,000)  and AUD 30,000 (SGD 31,500)

In the UK, undergraduate degrees for international students range between £11,400 (approx. SGD 21,000*) and £67,892 (approx. SGD 125,000*) per year. These costs vary among universities and by program, particularly in fields like medicine.

Considering tuition fees alone, an average three-year degree could range between £34,200 (approx. SGD 63,000*) and £203,676 (approx. SGD 375,000*). For a four-year course, costs would be higher. These figures exclude living expenses, which typically amount to several thousand pounds annually as well. 

Job Opportunities After Graduation:

Both the UK and Australia provide diverse job opportunities for international graduates. Research the specific visa and work permit options available in each country, as they may impact your post-graduation plans. Consider factors like the job market, industry opportunities, and the ease of obtaining work visas when evaluating your future career prospects.

Visa Regulations for Post-Graduation:

Visa regulations for post-graduation can significantly influence international students' decisions when choosing between the UK and Australia.

UK Post-Graduation Visa Regulations

    • Duration: The UK offers the Graduate Route, allowing international students to stay for two years (three years for Ph.D. graduates) after completing their studies to work or seek employment.
    • Work Eligibility: During this period, students can work at any skill level, and there are no minimum salary requirements.
    • Job Switching: Graduates on this route can switch to other visa categories once they secure a job meeting the respective visa requirements.

Australian Post-Graduation Visa Regulations

    • Duration: The Temporary Graduate Visa offers two streams: the Graduate Work stream for 18 months and the Post-Study Work stream for two to four years, depending on the degree obtained.
    • Work Eligibility: Graduates can work full-time, study, or travel within Australia during this period.
    • Job Opportunities: This visa allows graduates to gain work experience relevant to their studies. It might serve as a pathway to a permanent or provisional skilled visa.

Comparison and Considerations

  • Duration: Australia offers a more extended post-graduation stay (up to four years) compared to the UK (up to three years for Ph.D. graduates).
  • Work Flexibility: While both countries offer work opportunities after graduation, the UK's Graduate Route provides more flexibility in job selection without stringent salary or skill level constraints.
  • Pathways to Permanent Residency: Both visas could potentially lead to permanent residency pathways based on work experience and other eligibility criteria.

Understanding these visa regulations can aid in making an informed decision about where to pursue post-graduation studies based on one's career aspirations, preferred work environment, and potential pathways to settling in either country.

Conclusion

Choosing between studying in the UK and Australia is a significant decision for international students. Each country offers distinct advantages and considerations. Ultimately, the choice should align with your academic goals, personal preferences, and career aspirations. Conduct thorough research, seek advice from current students or alumni, and carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine which destination is the best fit for you.

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