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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 joint 19th and 42nd in the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16, both are 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® 2015/16

Joint 19th in the world; 1st in Australia

26th in the world for academic reputation

59th for employer reputation

191st for faculty/student ratio

61st for citations per faculty member (research impact)

30th for international faculty ratio

53rd for international student ratio

42nd in the world; 2nd in Australia

22nd in the world for academic reputation

18th for employer reputation

401+ for faculty/student ratio

100th for citations per faculty

170th for international faculty ratio

43rd for international student ratio

Subject strengths*

12th in the world for arts & humanities

Joint 81st for life sciences & medicine

Joint 20th for natural sciences

Joint 41st for engineering & technology

18th for social sciences & management

18th in the world for arts & humanities

16th for life sciences & medicine

26th for natural sciences

18th for engineering & technology

13th for social sciences & management

Academic reputation*

Slightly better-reputed than Melbourne in the fields of arts & humanities and natural sciences.

Stronger reputation for life sciences & medicine, engineering & technology and social sciences.


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

Over 22,500 students in 2015

No recent stats on number of undergraduates, postgraduates and international students (2013 stats here)

In 2013, 5,590 of the 15,523 students were international (26% of students).

45,411 students in total, including 15,208 international students (33.5% of students) (2015 figures)

Fees and funding

Annual undergraduate fees for domestic students range from A$6,256 to $10,440 (US$4,500-$7,500).

Annual international undergraduate fees range from A$31,008 to $37,104 (US$22,300-$26,680). (2016 figures).

Annual international graduate student fees range from A$31,008 to $39,024 (US$22,300-$28,075).

Annual undergraduate fees for domestic students range from A$6,256 to $10,440. (US$4,500-$7,500) – 2016 figures.

Annual international undergraduate fees range from A$25,984 to $37,992 (US$18,700-$27,350) and A$75,808 (US$54,600) for medicine.

Annual international graduate student fees range from A$30,240 to A$36,512 (US$21,780-$26,300).

*Based on the QS World University Rankings by Faculty (2015/16)

QS World University Rankings® 2015/16

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, with the University of Melbourne taking a slight lead in this indicator, ranking at 22nd in the world, while Australian National University is close behind in 26th. Melbourne also comes out ahead for employer reputation, ranking 18th in the world, while ANU is a little further behind, in 59th place.

ANU is ranked 191st for student/faculty ratio, while the University of Melbourne is outside of the global top 400 on this measure. This indicator aims to give an approximate idea of the level of support students may be able to expect, given the number of full-time faculty members employed per student.

ANU claims a slightly stronger score than University of Melbourne for citations per faculty member, which aims to assess research impact; it is ranked 61st on this measure, while Melbourne is 100th.

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 55 for their percentage of international students: Melbourne 43rd and ANU 53rd. For international faculty members, ANU is even stronger – ranked 30th in the world to Melbourne’s 170th.

In short, it’s a close race all round; ANU and the University of Melbourne lead in three indicators each.

Subject strengths ANU

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 and natural sciences, while Melbourne comes out ahead for life sciences, social sciences and engineering and technology subjects.

For more specific insights, the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 highlights each university’s performance in 42 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 anthropology (7th in the world), politics (8th), development studies (8th), archaeology (8th), agriculture (11th), Earth and marine sciences (12th), history (12th), social policy (14th), law (15th), sociology (16th), and geography (17th). This shows that, although ANU is not ranked as highly as the University of Melbourne for social sciences, it is still a strong contender in this field.

Meanwhile Melbourne’s strongest positions come in education (joint 7th in the world), law (8th), accounting (12th), computer science (13th), psychology (14th), business (15th), environmental sciences (15th), anthropology (17th) and medicine (18th).


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 referred to as the nation’s cultural capital, Melbourne is an arty city featuring impressive 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 second in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, 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 (67th in the world), the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT, joint 273rd), Deakin University (joint 324th), La Trobe University (joint 394th), Swinburne University of Technology (501-550) and Victoria University (601-650).


Home to Australian National University (ANU), Canberra  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 551-600 in the QS World University Rankings. The city itself is ranked 17th in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, and continues to improve its place in the index year on year.

Student community

The University of Melbourne is over double the size in terms of student community, with 45,411 students in total, including 15,208 international students. That means internationals account for around a third of the student population, reflected in the university’s high score in the international student ratio category of the rankings.ANU had 22,500 students as of 2015, while statistics from 2013 show a fairly equal divide of undergraduate (10,052) and postgraduate (10,840) students. Of these, 5,590 were international students in 2013, which was 26% of the student population at the time.

Tuition fees and living costs        

Based on the latest figures for incoming students in 2016, 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) tend to be the most expensive.

International student fees are towards the upper end of the international spectrum, with tuition costs of around A$26,000-$38,000 (US$18,700-$27,400) at both schools. Again, medicine is the most expensive subject, with annual tuition fees of US$63,000 at the University of Melbourne.

Scholarships and funding

With such high tuition fees, prospective students will be pleased to learn that both the University of Melbourne and Australian National University offer scholarships for international students, with both offering online search tools to enable students to identify scholarships relevant to their particular situation.

There are also a number of government scholarships available to study in Australia, including the Australia Awards, aimed at students at all study levels from developing countries, and the Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarships. You can find more scholarships to study in Australia here.

This article was originally published in November 2014. It was updated in June 2016

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Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former 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.

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For Urban Planning and/or Climate change policy, which university's degree would come handy for getting a graduate job in international agencies, ANU or UniMel?

Thanks in advance!

I am chirag. Basically I have just passed 12th with overall 60% marks !! I wnt to get a scholarship as I wnt to do my graduation in abroad . Am I be able to apply for a scholarship as I hve got 60% of marks !! If yes plz tell me how and if no my bad luck!! Thnx


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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how do i gain an admission?