Top Universities in Australia by Region 2014/15

Top Universities in Australia by Region 2014/15

Laura Tucker

Updated February 21, 2023 Updated February 21

Click here to see the top universities in Australia in 2018.

Those looking to study in Australia are definitely not short of study options, if the 33 universities in Australia ranked within the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15 are anything to go by.

Whether you’re interested in the high-brow culture of Sydney’s famous opera house in New South Wales, the hilarity of Melbourne’s yearly comedy festival in Victoria, the surfing community of Queensland’s main city Brisbane, or the calmer environment of capital city Canberra, Australia has something to offer every student.

Read on for an overview of the top universities in Australia by state and territory, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15 and the QS Best Student Cities 2015.

Top universities in New South Wales

The most populous of all Australia’s regions and the fifth largest by area, New South Wales is home to eight ranked Australian universities. The cities of Wollongong, Newcastle and Armidale are each home to at least one of these, but the largest collection of internationally ranked universities in New South Wales is located in Sydney, the state’s capital and the world’s fourth best city for students according to this year’s QS Best Student Cities. Home to 20% of Australia’s entire population, Sydney offers iconic scenery, spotless beaches and plenty of open space. Two universities in Sydney, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, are members of the prestigious Group of Eight (Go8), an assembly of leading research-intensive Australian universities.

The top universities in New South Wales are:

1.  University of Sydney (37= in the world; 3rd in Australia)

2.  University of New South Wales (48th in the world; 5th in Australia)

3.  Macquarie University (254= in the world; 9th in Australia)

4.  University of Newcastle (257= in the world; 10th in Australia)

5.  University of Technology, Sydney (UTS, 264th in the world; 11th in Australia)

6.  University of Wollongong (283= in the world; 12th in Australia)

7.  University of Western Sydney (651-700 in the world; 27= in Australia)

8.  University of New England (701+ in the world; 29= in Australia)

Top universities in Victoria

Although equal in size to the entirety of the UK, Victoria is actually Australia’s smallest state. Of its population of 5.8 million, 70% live in the city of Melbourne, a city which this year came second in the QS Best Student Cities ranking, ahead of London and beaten only by Paris. As well as world-class comedy, Melbourne offers a fine array of cuisine fit for any self-confessed foodie and enough major sporting events (such as the Grand Prix and the Australian Open) to keep the celebratory mood going all year round. Of Melbourne’s six internationally ranked universities, the University of Melbourne and Monash University are members of the Go8. To see how the University of Melbourne compares with Australia’s number one institution, the Australian National University (ANU), visit this article.

The top universities in Victoria are:

1.  University of Melbourne (33rd in the world; 2nd in Australia).

2.  Monash University (70th in the world; 6th in Australia)

3.  Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT, 304th in the world; 14th in Australia)

4.  Deakin University (360= in the world; 19th in Australia)

5.  La Trobe University (401-410 in the world; 20= in Australia)

6.  Swinburne University of Technology (481-490 in the world; 24= in Australia)

7.  Victoria University (701+ in the world; 29= in Australia)

Top universities in Queensland

Located in the northeast, Queensland is Australia’s second largest region and third largest by population. Brisbane is the state’s capital, but over half of the population lives in less urban parts – a direct contrast to Victoria where the main cities are more concentrated. Queensland sees around eight to nine hours of sunshine a day, perfect for active students wishing to dive, surf, swim and explore the depths of the famous Great Barrier Reef. Notably, James Cook University in Townsville is located close to a central part of the reef, while further south-east towards the Gold Coast is Bond University, boasting proximity to a fantastic coastline, thriving tourism and an abundance of theme parks. The University of Queensland is the state’s only Go8 member.

The top universities in Queensland are:

1.  University of Queensland (43= in the world; 4th in Australia)

2.  Queensland University of Technology (QUT, 285= in the world; 13th in Australia)

3.  Griffith University (324= in the world; 15th in Australia)

4.  James Cook University (JCU, 350th in the world; 18th in Australia)

5.  Bond University (471-480 in the world; 22nd in Australia)

6.  University of Southern Queensland (701+ in the world; 29= in Australia)

Top universities in Western Australia

Taking up almost a third of the country’s terrain, Western Australia is Australia’s largest state by area and the fifth largest by population. A hefty chunk of the state is known as ‘the outback’, meaning that unless you’ve got a four-wheel-drive and plenty of supplies, exploring the terrain can be difficult. Towards the north of the state, an area known as The Kimberley features unspoiled white beaches and azure-blue waters, while in the south the ‘Golden Outback’ region offers huge wildflower meadows and insights into the “gold rush” era. If you’re looking for the urban jungle, you’ll probably want to consider Perth, the city where the majority of Western Australia’s population resides – and another Australian entrant in the QS Best Student Cities index. Combining a relaxed beach culture and fast-paced entertainment scene, Perth offers three internationally ranked universities, including Go8 member the University of Western Australia.

The top universities in Western Australia are:

1.  University of Western Australia (89th in the world; 7th in Australia)

2.  Curtin University (331= in the world; 16th in Australia)

3.  Murdoch University (551-600 in the world; 24= in Australia)

Top universities in South Australia

The driest state in the country, South Australia is also known as a chief exporter of fine wine. Despite the region’s aridity, South Australia has much to offer in terms of scenery and nature, as well as rich cultural heritage. If the South Australian Outback or the Flinders Ranges don’t do it for you, try the state’s capital city, Adelaide, which is often referred to as the arts capital of Australia, having a great output of live music, artistic events and festivals to keep the young community busy. The University of Adelaide is the only Go8 member in the region.

The top universities in South Australia are:   

1.  University of Adelaide (100th in the world; 8th in Australia)

2.  University of South Australia (UNISA, 333rd in the world; 17th in Australia)

3.  Flinders University (481-490 in the world; 23rd in Australia)

Top universities in Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The ACT, or Australian Cap ital Territory, is not actually a state of its own but rather a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia within the region of New South Wales. The ACT is home to the nation’s capital city, Canberra, which in turn is home to two internationally ranked universities. These include Go8 member, Australian National University (ANU), which is also the highest-ranked of all universities in Australia, currently placed at joint 25th in the world. To compare this institution with Australia’s second highest ranked university, the University of Melbourne, visit this article.

The top universities in ACT are:

1.  Australian National University (ANU, 25= in the world; 1st in Australia).

2.  University of Canberra (651-700 in the world; 27= in Australia)

Other top universities in Australia

Two remaining Australian regions, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, each offer one Australian university ranked within the world’s top 600 of the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15. Perhaps most famously known for the abundance of wildlife found within its many national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Areas, Tasmania is an island off the south-east corner of the mainland. Meanwhile, the Northern Territory is one of the largest and sparsest regions in the country, with a tropical climate and a capital city named after famous naturalist Charles Darwin.

Here are the best of the rest:

1.  University of Tasmania (401-410 in the world; 20th in Australia) – Tasmania

2.  Charles Darwin University (551-600 in the world; 24th in Australia) – Northern Territory

This article was originally published in September 2016 . It was last updated in January 2020

Written by

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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