UK vs Australia: Which is Better for Indian Students in 2024?

In our series of comparing global ed destinations, we are looking at UK vs Australia in this article. To choose between these two English-speaking nations is not easy. The United Kingdom has an academic legacy that spans centuries.

The Australian system is modelled primarily after the UK structure (they might have even been the same country if the self-governing Commonwealth of Australia was not created in 1901). The former elicits images of history, regency and rainy weather while the latter is symbolised by kangaroos and coastlines. But, when it comes to higher education, how does one make a choice?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying in each country?

Both the UK and Australia are extremely popular destinations, known for their world class education systems, research infrastructure and post-study work opportunities. They have welcomed students from all over the world, especially from India, for decades.

Here is the UK and Australia as international study destinations at a glance.

The United Kingdom Australia
Top Universities 1. University of Cambridge
2. University of Oxford
3. Imperial College London
1. University of Melbourne
2. University of New South Wales
3. University of Sydney
Duration Bachelor’s: Typically 3 years
Master’s: 1 year
Bachelor’s: 3 years with an optional 4th research year
Master’s: 2 – 3 years
Top Choice of Subjects Medicine and Dentistry
Veterinary Medicine
Business Management
Social Sciences
Accountancy and Finance
Business Management
Tourism and Hospitality Management
Computer Science and Information Technology
Average Tuition fees UG: £22,200 (INR 23,42,677.20)
PG: £17,109 (INR 18,05,444.33)
AUD 22,000 – 50,000 for most typical bachelor’s and master’s programs (11.8 – 26.8 lakhs INR)
Cost of Living per month £1,300 (INR 1,37,216.37) Around AUD 3,000 (INR 1.6 lakhs)
Work while you study Allowed up to 20 hours per week Allowed up to 48 hours a fortnight
Post-Study Work Graduate Immigration Route – 2 year stay Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) – 2-4 years

How does one choose between the two?

Your choice primarily depends on your course and the university most suited for your choice of studies. Everything else is secondary. Is the university at the cutting edge of your field? Is the university curriculum matching your needs? Where does the university stand in terms of global recognition? These are the questions you must ask first while choosing. Then comes all the other factors such as

  • The teaching-learning style of the department you are applying to
  • The costs involved
  • The admissions criteria that you need to meet
  • Immigration policies and job opportunities and
  • Attitudes towards international students in the university/ city/ country.

Keeping this in mind, here are the pros and cons of studying in the UK vs Australia. Let us dive right in.

1. Quality of Education

When it comes to higher education, both countries are popular study destinations, especially for students from India. UK and Australian universities have a global reputation and are renowned for their state-of-the-art infrastructure for teaching and research. Both nations’ universities are ranked in the top 100 in QS World University Rankings list. UK universities rank slightly higher, partly due to its academic legacy and its history of higher education. This also makes UK universities slightly more competitive when compared to their Australian counterparts (depending on the choice of course, of course!).

UK: The academic heritage and renown of the UK needs no separate validation. Two of the oldest and world-class universities are located here – The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Besides these two giants, most of the universities in the UK have a long standing history of providing well-rounded higher education to its students. Here are the top 10 universities in the UK according to 2024 QS World University Rankings.
S.No World Ranking University
1 2 University of Cambridge
2 3 University of Oxford
3 6 Imperial College London
4 9 UCL
5 22 University of Edinburgh
6 32 University of Manchester
7 40 King’s College
8 45 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
9 55 University of Bristol
10 67 University of Warwick
Australia: As of January 2024, 567,505 international students chose Australian courses for their higher education, of which a majority of them were from China, India and Nepal. In the last few decades, Australia has created a mark as one of the top global ed destinations with world class universities that offer excellent academic programmes, research opportunities, and a vibrant campus life. Here are the top 10 Australian universities according to 2024 QS World University Rankings.
S.No World Ranking University
1 14 University of Melbourne
2 19 University of New South Wales
3 19 University of Sydney
4 34 Australian National University
5 42 Monash University
6 43 University of Queensland
7 72 University of Western Australia
8 89 University of Adelaide
9 90 University of Technology Sydney
10 130 Macquarie University

2. Flexibility of university and courses

UK: Universities in the UK are made of “colleges” dedicated to specific subjects or departments. You apply to a specific college and a course rather than to the university as a whole for specific courses. Due to its 3-year undergraduate schedule, most schools do not give you the option of trying out a few courses and then declaring your speciality. Courses are typically theory oriented with emphasis on depth. You will choose your course before entry and continue to specialise.

For example, let’s say you choose Chemistry. Your first year will cover general topics under the banner. In the second year, you can choose a range of topics within “Chemistry” and choose a specialisation such as biochemistry or molecular chemistry in your third year. You might take a course or two from Physics or Biology but that is the extent of flexibility.

Australia: Australian universities are like the midpoint between the formal English system and the more modern USA higher education system. Some universities follow the traditional practice where you are expected to declare your major in the beginning and choose courses around your major. However, there are some universities, like the University of Melbourne, for instance, that allow you to undertake some foundation courses before choosing your major.

Moreover, most universities give you the option of a 4th research year as a part of the bachelor’s programme. You can complete it in three years and exit with a B.A. or a B.Sc degree or extend into the fourth year and graduate with an Honours degree and substantial research to your name. For those interested in entering the world of research and academia, this is the most commonly used pathway.

3. Duration of Study

UK: Degrees in the UK are shorter when compared to the US or even other parts of Europe. A bachelor’s degree is typically 3 years while a postgraduate programme can be completed within the span of a year. You can gain a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in the same time you get a bachelor’s honours in the land down under. While this is an advantage, it also means that the programme will be intensive and will require a lot of academic rigour. You will not have a lot of flexibility around deadlines or long breaks.
Australia: Like the UK, undergraduate programmes are typically 3 years with an optional 4th year to graduate with honours. Masters by coursework is usually 2 years  while research masters can take up to 3 years. The extended duration is both a pro and a con. You get to spread your academic workload in a more balanced fashion when compared to the UK. However, it also means an additional year of tuition and costs of living that you will have to bear.

4. Cost of Study

Unlike New Zealand which is a noticeably cheaper option, the costs of study in the UK and Australia are more or less similar. If you want to split hairs, the UK is on the marginally higher side, especially when it comes to undergraduate study. As a student going from India, be it UK or Australia, it is natural to subconsciously multiply your expenses by ~ 100 or ~ 50 to see how much it translates into rupees.

  • Average tuition for undergraduate study: 22,200 GBP (INR 23,42,677.20)
  • For Postgraduate study: 17,109 GBP  (INR 18,05,444.33)
  • AUD 22,000 – 50,000 for most typical bachelor’s and master’s programs (11.8 – 26.8 lakhs INR)

These are median averages and are bound to change depending on the choice of programme. Please note that courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing or Veterinary Sciences have a significantly higher tuition.

5. Cost of Living

As with tuition, the cost of living in the UK and Australia is also comparable. It is practically impossible to choose one as significantly higher and lower. It depends on the city, the nature of your accommodation and your lifestyle choices. However, when it comes to healthcare systems, both countries have excellent provisions by the government – the NHS in England and Medicare in Australia.

UK: According to the British Council, except for London, the average cost of living is about £1,100 (INR 1,16,106.16) per month. If you are living in London, you can add another £200-300 to your monthly expenses.
Australia: According to the “Cost of Living Calculator” of Study Australia (the government’s official website for international education, the average cost of living in cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne or Perth is about AUD 2,700 (INR 1.45 lakhs) per month. If you are living in Brisbane or Sydney, you add AUD 300 – 500 per month.

The following cost of living comparison has a detailed break up of living costs incurred in each of the countries.

6. Teaching – Learning Practices

UK: Universities in the UK are relatively more formal with clear hierarchies in place. Tests are conducted typically at the end of the semester or the year to monitor the student’s progress. The culture in most universities is to allow students their own study methods. In addition to the lectures, the UK education system also has the practice of tutorials, where a small group of students interact closely with a graduate or a doctoral student as part of the study. This provides one-on-one attention and builds research interest in undergraduate students.
Australia: Classrooms are more informally organised with some professors even allowing their students to use their first names. The teaching-learning process is more liberal, where the freedom and responsibility is placed on your shoulders from the start. Most of the courses include a practical component such as research or internships or co-ops so as to not limit the learning process to the classroom.

7. Post-Study Work and Immigration

UK: Finding a job in the UK can be challenging, considering the level of competition and the number of international students that flock the country. However, certain specialised fields are in demand and are covered in detail in the following section.

On completion of your study, you can take the Graduate Immigration route and stay in the UK for up to two years and work or look for work. There is no limit on salary and therefore offers flexibility. You are eligible to apply on completion of both bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes. On completion of the two years, you can upgrade to a Tier 2 Skilled Visa under the sponsorship of the organisation that you work for.

Australia: The job market is quite competitive and requires you to be highly skilled, communicate effectively and have the right qualifications for organisations to choose you over the locals. It is, however, not impossible to find jobs and establish your career in the land down under.

When it comes to the immigration policy, Australia’s is more flexible than that of the UK. On completion of a degree from an Australian institution, an international student can apply for Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) under the Post-Study Work stream. Depending on your degree, you will be allowed to stay and work for a period of 2-4 years.

8. Wages and quality of life

Wages or salary depend on a number of factors including the industry, your qualification, designation or your work experience. That said, the general salary in Australia tends to be marginally higher than that of the UK. In certain areas where there are worker shortages, salaries in Western Australia can be  50% higher than those in the UK.

UK: The national minimum wage is £11.44 (INR 1,177.57) per hour.
Australia: The national minimum wage is AU $23.23 (INR 1,246.02) per hour
Looking at salaries, if you are in the middle or high income groups, then the quality of life is almost the same. However, for the lower income groups, Australia offers a better quality of life and work life balance.

9. Culture

UK: The United Kingdom is made of four different countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This makes its culture extremely diverse. The general tone is comparatively more formal. Work and organisations are typically more rigidly structured and hierarchical. Be it history, sports or the UK pub culture, life in the UK as an international student can be full of rich experiences.
Australia: Any description of the land down under brings out Aussies’ sense of informality and easy going nature who are mostly welcoming to immigrants. The Australian coastline offers scenic beauty and tons of adventure activities for those inclined to explore the wild. Despite its high-tech cities, the wilderness is an essential part of Australian culture. Another is the Aussie slang that might make an outsider wonder what language is being spoken!

10. Weather

If weather is a significant factor in your decision making, Australia wins hands down! The UK is known for its unpredictable, dreary weather while coastal Australia is warm, bright and sunny. Central Australia is primarily a desert and can get uncomfortably hot in summers. In Australia, you will have to get used to a cold June while December and January can get quite warm. White Christmas is not an Australian thing at all (neither is it Indian!).

Winner: A Tie

Both countries have their own set of pros and cons and it is impossible and impractical to choose, based on general advantages and disadvantages. These are to help you mentally prepare for what to expect when you go to the country of your choosing. However, if you run through the parameters with a specific course and university in mind, you will be able to judge which of the two is better suited for you.

How is campus life in each country?

Let us take a look at how your campus life will be as a UK and Australian student.

UK Australia
Time Spent on Campus
  • Shorter – Typically 3 years for UG and 1 year for PG programmes
  • Marginally longer: 3 – 4 years for UG and 2-3 years for Master’s
Nature of Study
  • Typically theory oriented with emphasis on depth.
  • Course needs to be chosen before before entry – then continue to specialise.
  • A wider variety of choice between theory-oriented courses and professional/ practical knowledge programmes in universities and vocational colleges.
  • Some universities allow attending a variety of courses before choosing the major
Food and Accomodation
  • Study halls are a popular choice of accommodation in the UK.
  • The rooms are typically meant for individuals, giving you privacy.
  • In many universities, food is not part of the accommodation – students need to figure out food options.
  • Off-campus options are available.
  • On-campus accommodation is typically dormitories or townhouses.
  • Food and self-catering facilities are available.
  • Off-campus options are available. One of the more popular options is the homestay where you get to stay with an Australian family in their home.
Clubs and Extracurricular Activities
  • Most universities have a large number of lively and active societies (Like the Debating Society at Oxford or Cambridge which have a reputation of their own)
  • However, due to the emphasis placed on the depth, extracurricular activities are not as big as they are in the US. They are typically treated as positive distractions or breaks from academia.
  • Most Australian universities have clubs/ associations in the following categories
    • Study
    • Outdoor activity
    • Political
    • Books and movies
    • International student groups
    • Sports/ Athletics
    • Religion
    • Gaming
Work while you study
  • Full-time students can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time, irrespective of whether the job is paid or unpaid.
  • Students with a valid student visa (Subclass 500) can work part-time not exceeding 48 hours a fortnight.

Winner: Australia

Reminder, this is an opinion and not a fact. Students prefer the more informal and full campus life that Australian universities offer. However, if you are the kind who would deep dive into intensive study, then the UK is the way to go.

What are the career opportunities in the UK vs Australia?

Let us make one thing clear. Neither country guarantees a job on completion of your degree. The onus is on you to find the right job best suited to your career plan, within the terms of your visa. That said, here are some of the important facts to consider.

UK Australia
Unemployment rate ~ 4% ~3.9%
Worker Shortage ~ 11.5% of businesses are experiencing worker shortage Out of the 916 skilled sectors that were assessed, 332 (36%) are experiencing worker shortage.
In-Demand Job Sectors Engineering, Healthcare services (Medical practitioners, pharmacists, senior care workers), Data analysts, Computer Science specialists (Cybersecurity specialists, UI/ UX Designers, systems architect, web designers), Accountancy and Finance specialists, and graduates in the field of education Healthcare professions (doctors, nurses, aged and disabled care, and childcare) Retail managers, Construction managers, Software programmers, Civil Engineers, ICT specialists, Chefs and Teachers.
Average Salary – The average salary is typically less than that of professionals in Australia. – Higher average salaries than the UK.
Visa as a Student – UK Student Visa (Previously known as Tier 4 Visa)

– It allows you to work for up to 20 hours a week.

–  Student visa subclass 500

– It also allows you to work 48 hours per fortnight.

Towards/ On Course Completion Graduate Immigration Route
– You can stay in the UK for up to two years and work or look for work.
– No limit on salary and therefore offers flexibility.- You are eligible to apply on completion of both bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes.
Temporary Graduate visa Subclass 485
– You can work in Australia for 2-4 years, depending on your degree.- You are eligible to apply on completion of both bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes.
Post Study Work Visas On completion of the two year period under the Graduate Immigration Route, you can update to a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa which allows you to be sponsored by a UK employer for a period of 5 years. After your 485 visa period is over, you will be eligible to apply for

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189) Visa or
  • Employer sponsored visa
  • Permanent residency

Winner: Australia

Cost of Living: Which country is better?

It is important to note that the figures shown in the table below are averages and approximations to give you a general idea. The actual costs can vary depending on your selection of courses, the universities and the city that you will be living in.

Costs per year UK Australia
Average Tuition (for an undergraduate programme) £22,200 (INR 23,43,233.40) AUD 22,000 – 50,000 (11.8 – 26.8 lakhs INR
Average Tuition (for postgraduate studies) £17,109 (INR 18,05,444.33)
Rent (On-Campus) £4,000 (INR 4.5-5 lakhs) AU $10,000 ( INR 5 lakhs)
Rent (Off-Campus shared living – monthly) London – £750 (INR 78,000)
Rest of UK – £560 (INR 57,630)
Sydney – $1,200 (INR 64,000)
Other cities – $800 – $1,000 (INR 42,500 – 53,600)
Food £1,800 – £2,200
(INR 1.8 – 2.3 lakhs)
AU $1,500 – $2,000 (INR 80,000 – 1 lakh)
Transport £1,000 ( INR 1 lakh) AU $1,000 – $2,000 (INR 50,000 – 1 lakh)
Health Insurance £470 ( INR 50,000) AU $478 (INR 26,000)
Utilities (per annum) £650 – £800 (INR 65,000 – 85,000) AU $1,700 – $2,700 (INR 92,000 – 1.4 lakh)
Average Total Living Expenses (per annum) £14,400 – £16,800 (INR 15 – 18 lakhs) AU $25,000 – 27,000 (INR 13 – 14.5 lakhs)

Note: All figures are approximates. Converted rates in INR can also vary widely depending on global market conditions.

Winner: A Tie

Like with the other differences, the cost of living round in the UK vs Australia match is also a tie. What can help you with your decision is to compare starting salaries in your field with respect to the cost of living to get a clearer picture for your financial planning. That said, it is also important to compare similar cities. The Australian equivalent of London is Sydney or Melbourne.

You might also be placed in smaller, more student friendly cities such as Liverpool or Edinburgh in the UK or Adelaide or Perth in Australia.

Courses and study duration

Top Courses to Study in the UK

  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Education
  • Law
  • Business Management
  • Architecture
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities
Top Courses to Study in Australia

  • Business
  • Travel and Hospitality Management
  • Health Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Computing, IT, and Networking/Science and Technology
  • Social Work and Education
  • Design and Creative Technology
Study Duration

  • Three years for undergraduate degrees and one year for master’s.
Study Duration

  • Bachelor’s – 3 years
  • Honours – 4 years
  • Master’s – 2-3 years

Eligibility Criteria

When it comes to admissions, both countries have fairly similar requirements and both are extremely competitive. It is, therefore, your responsibility to ensure your application stands out, based on academic merit, extracurricular activities and your statement of purpose. The general eligibility criteria are as follows

UK Australia
Academic Requirements for UG Programmes Completed grade XII with the required courses. For e.g. you must have scored high in Class XII Maths to apply for a Computer Science programme. Completed grade XII with the required courses and a minimum GPA
Academic Requirements for Master’s Programmes
  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Some courses might require you to have work experience.
  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. (Australia accepts 3-year bachelors to apply for master’s. However, for some programmes, you will be asked to take additional courses to meet the requirement)
  • Some courses might require you to have work experience.
Standardised Tests
  • Some courses in some universities might have entrance exams.
  • A few applications might also require you to submit GRE/ GMAT/ MCAT scores.
  • Most universities have become test-optional post Covid.
  • Some master’s degree programmes require GRE/ GMAT scores.
English Proficiency Tests
  • IELTS/ TOEFL to prove your proficiency in English
  • IELTS/ TOEFL to prove your proficiency in English


As a student applying from India, it is also important to look into scholarship options. Four sources should always be considered when looking into financial aid:

  • Indian government scholarships for students going abroad
  • Government scholarships of your destination country
  • University scholarships
  • Scholarships from external sources such as charitable trusts and philanthropic organisations.
UK Government Scholarships Australia Government Scholarships
  • Chevening Scholarships
  • Commonwealth Masters Scholarships
  • Commonwealth Fellowship Plan
  • Global Study Awards
  • GREAT Scholarships India
  • British Council Scholarships for women in STEM
  • Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarships
  • Australia Awards
  • Destination Australia
  • Australian Government Research Training Programme (RTP)
  • Education provider scholarships (funded by the government or the universities)

Conclusion: Applying to universities in UK or Australia

Overall winner: A Tie!

It is impossible to categorically state that one country is better than the other (unless of course it is the weather!). Each nation has its own pros and cons. Ultimately, the choice of country when you are looking at the UK vs Australia should be dependent on the course, the university and the return on investment. Your ultimate choice is based on which department and school are best suited for your career needs.

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