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Australian National University or University of Melbourne?

Australian National University or University of Melbourne?


If you’re planning to study in Australia, you may well have your sights set on one of the two highest-ranking universities in Australia: Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Melbourne.

Placed at 25th and 33rd in the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15, both are clearly among the world’s very best universities, making the choice between the two leading universities in Australia a pretty tough decision.

Below is an overview of various factors to consider when choosing where to study in Australia, including subject strengths, tuition fees, location and student population, followed by a more in-depth comparison of the top two universities in Australia in each category. 


Australian National University (ANU)

University of Melbourne

QS World University Rankings® 2014/15
25th in the world; 1st in Australia

25th in the world for academic reputation

47th for employer reputation

147th for faculty/student ratio

129th for citations per faculty

33rd for international faculty ratio

50th for international student ratio
33rd in the world; 2nd in Australia

20th in the world for academic reputation

13th for employer reputation

341st for faculty/student ratio

74th for citations per faculty

167th for international faculty ratio

44th for international student ratio
Subject strengths*
10= in the world for arts & humanities

93rd for life sciences & medicine

29= for natural sciences

49= for engineering & technology

13th for social sciences & management
24th in the world for arts & humanities

17th for life sciences & medicine

39th for natural sciences

23rd for engineering & technology

18th for social sciences & management
Academic reputation*Slightly better-reputed than Melbourne in the fields of arts & humanities, natural sciences, and social sciencesStronger reputation for life sciences & medicine, and engineering & technology
Canberra, Australia’s governmental capital

Smaller and generally considered calmer

Inland, surrounded by mountains, hills and bush
Melbourne, Australia’s ‘cultural capital’

Larger and generally considered to have a lot more going on

On the south coast of Australia, on Port Philip bay
Student community
20,248 students in total

10,359 undergraduates

9,674 postgraduates

Around a quarter of students are international (2012 figures)
38,281 students in total

22,524 undergraduates

15,718 postgraduates

Almost 28% of students are international (2012 figures)
Fees and funding
Annual undergraduate fees for domestic students range from A$6,152 to $10,266 (US$5,400-$9,040) – 2015 figures.

Annual international undergraduate fees range from A$25,984 to $30,111 (US$22,900-$26,500) and up to A$62,551 (US$55,100) for medicine.

Annual international graduate student fees range from A$25,984 to $33,181 (US$22,900-$29,300).
Annual undergraduate fees for domestic students range from A$6,152 to $10,266 (US$5,400-$9,040) – 2015 figures.

Annual international undergraduate fees range from A$24,960 to $36,224 (US$22,000-$31,900) and up to A$71,488 (US$63,000) for medicine.

Annual international graduate student fees range from A$28,800 to $36,224 (US$25,400-$32,000).

*Based on the QS World University Rankings by Faculty (2014/15)

QS World University Rankings® 2014/15

Ranking well within the top 50 of the QS World University Rankings, both Australian National University and the University of Melbourne are established members of the world’s higher education elite. They both score extremely well on QS’s global academic reputation survey – and indeed on all the indicators used to compile the rankings.

The University of Melbourne takes a slight lead in the academic reputation indicator, for which it ranks 20th in the world, while Australian National University is close behind in 25th. Melbourne also comes out ahead for employer reputation, ranking 13th in the world, while ANU is a little further behind, in 47th place.

ANU has the higher rank for faculty/student ratio: 147th, compared to Melbourne’s 341st. This indicator aims to give an insight into the level of support students may be able to expect, given the number of full-time faculty members employed per student. Meanwhile the University of Melbourne claims a slightly stronger score for citations per faculty member, which aims to assess research impact; it’s ranked 74th on this measure, while ANU stands at 129th.

For international diversity, both are again strong performers – unsurprising in light of Australia’s long history of welcoming students and academics from overseas. Both are within the global top 50 for their percentage of international students: Melbourne 44th and ANU 50th. For international faculty members, ANU is even stronger – ranked 33rd in the world to Melbourne’s 167th.

In short, it’s a close race all round; while the University of Melbourne claims a stronger score in four of the six measures used to compile the rankings, ANU’s lead in the remaining two (faculty/student ratio and research citations) is larger.

Subject strengths

The latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Faculty (based on global surveys of academics and employers, as well as research citations data) indicates that ANU is slightly stronger in arts and humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, while Melbourne comes out ahead for life sciences and engineering and technology subjects.

For more specific insights, the QS World University Rankings by Subject highlights each university’s performance in 30 individual subject areas. These rankings further highlight the strong international standing of the top universities in Australia across a broad spectrum of disciplines; in most cases, both ANU and the University of Melbourne feature among the world’s top 50.

Especially strong areas for Australian National University include politics (7th in the world), linguistics (11th), geography (11th), Earth & marine sciences (12th), environmental sciences (12=), philosophy (13th), modern languages (14=), sociology (14=), law (15th) and history (15th). Meanwhile Melbourne’s strongest positions come in education (2nd in the world), accounting (8th), law (8th), psychology (10=), medicine (12th), linguistics (12th), environmental sciences (12=) and computer science (15th).


While there may be little difference between the two top universities in Australia in terms of the high quality of education they provide, there is a lot to distinguish them when it comes to location.


Often named the nation’s cultural capital, Melbourne is an arty city featuring stately architecture, world-leading museums and an on-the-pulse theatre and comedy scene. The city also offers a myriad of ultra-cool restaurants, clubs and shopping districts, as well as a healthy love of sports.

Coming fifth in the 2013 QS Best Student Cities index, Melbourne is a popular study destination due to its large and diverse student community, excellent quality of living and high concentration of world-class universities. Besides the University of Melbourne, the city is home to six more Australian universities which feature in the QS World University Rankings. These are;  Monash University (70th in the world), the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT, 304th), Deakin University (360th), La Trobe University (401-410), Swinburne University of Technology (551-600) and Victoria University (701+).


Canberra, home of Australian National University (ANU), is Australia’s capital city. It’s actually far smaller than Melbourne, both overall and in terms of its student population, which helps to make this city a somewhat calmer place to live. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective and personal preferences!

However, as Australia’s political hub, Canberra couldn’t exactly be described as sleepy. During parliamentary sittings in particular, the city is alive with national politics. And while it may be one of the country’s few major settlements further than stone’s throw from a beach, Canberra boasts a different kind of natural attraction. Surrounded by mountains, hills and bush-land, as much as half of Canberra itself is protected as natural park and reserve land – so if you’re used to living in the countryside, Canberra may be the place where you’d feel more at home.

Aside from ANU, Canberra is also home to the University of Canberra, which is ranked 651-700 in the QS World University Rankings. The city itself was a new entry to the QS Best Student Cities in 2013, in 37th place.

Student community

ANU had 20,248 students as of 2012, fairly equally divided between undergraduate (almost 10,400) and postgraduate (9,700) programs. The University of Melbourne meanwhile is almost double the size in terms of student base, with 38,281 students in total, of which more than 22,500 are undergraduates and just over 15,700 postgraduates. At both universities, international students make up around a quarter of the student community.

Tuition fees               

Based on the latest figures for incoming students in 2015, ANU and the University of Melbourne both offer the same costs for domestic students, thanks to the nation’s commonwealth support scheme which allows Australian residents to make a smaller ‘contribution’ to their higher education costs, with the amount dependent on their chosen subject. Arts and humanities subjects (band 1) are typically the cheaper programs, while medical-related subjects, business and law programs (band 3) are typically the most expensive.

International student fees are towards the upper end of the international spectrum, with tuition costs of around A$20,000-$30,000 (US$17,600-$26,400) at both schools. International medicine students can expect to pay US$55,100 at ANU annually, and US$63,000 at the University of Melbourne.

Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker

Laura is a staff writer for, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life. View her past articles and blog posts here.

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i have got an admit from the uni of Sydney for masters in aerospace. can i know how good the uni is. how are the employment opportunities and how is the aerospace sector in aus. please reply.need to apply for visa

Hi Pavan, the University of Sydney is currently ranked 45th in the world and third in Australia, and there are good employment prospects for graduates from universities in Sydney. I'm not sure on the current condition of the aerospace sector in Australia, but you may like to get in touch with the university to find out more about career prospects after graduation. If you need any help with appying for your visa, this article should be useful. Hope this helps!

good day how can i apply for admission

Hi Linonge. We have information about applying to Australian universities here:

plz inform me how to i get admission and scholarship.

Hi Yahya. We have information about applying to Australian universities in our country guide: And a list of scholarships for international students in Australia, here:

Hi Tatenda. To apply, you should visit the university website and follow the guidelines there. Usually applications are submitted online.

For more information about applying to universities in Australia, visit our country guide:

For more on the costs and scholarships, this article may be helpful:

Hope this helps.

how do i get admission and scholarship

There are required specifications when looking for an English tutor in Melbourne.

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С уважением Бачевич Валерий.

how do i gain an admission?

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