Australia Study Abroad Country Profile

Australia Overview

Australia is a great study abroad destination for many students because it has both that "exotic" factor while still having the "comfort" or "familiarity" factor. Australia offers exciting natural wonders, like the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, along with alluring cultural attractions, including its mystic, indigenous Aboriginal people. Australia’s past and contemporary histories have helped build a degree of familiarity for American students.

The last half-century has been heavily influenced by American popular culture and, since English has long served as the lingua franca in Australia, there is no language barrier for most American students. Australia still maintains its cultural identity, a mixture of Anglo-Celtic and an increasing indigenous influence, but that identity is also dynamic, with an influx of immigrants from the Asia-Pacific region and other non-English speaking areas.

Cultural Highlights

There are two aspects of Australian popular culture that are dominant: the arts, and sports. The Sydney Opera House is an iconic example of the former; the country’s strong traditions in rugby and cricket are just two examples of the latter. Australia excels in visual and performing arts, and the country boasts famous Hollywood stars and literary luminaries alike. From the performing to the visual arts, there are Australians excelling in every area. Australia’s artistic endeavors are matched only perhaps in the country’s love for athletics, which play an integral part of Australian life. In addition to hosting a number of international sporting events, Australia has also produced some notable Olympic athletes.

There is also an indigenous aspect to Australia’s culture. Many of the country’s national parks feature sites of significance to the Aboriginal community. In fact, the Aboriginal culture plays a strong role in the entirety of the National Parks and Wildlife Service program. Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is central to the tourism of western Australia, while remaining one of the most important Aboriginal sacred sites. An increasing interest in indigenous culture in Australia is leading to the greater prominence and awareness of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Popular Fields of Study

While there are a number of programs in different subjects offered through Australian universities, there are a number of independent study abroad companies that often operate in conjunction with Australian universities that offer a wide variety of programs in various fields. Ecology, sustainability, and the environment are three very popular topics for Australia study abroad students studying in eastern coastal cities. Australia is a great backdrop for the study of these topics because of the strong effect that the environment has had on both its indigenous and contemporary societies.

Ecologically, Australia is rich, with rainforests, coral reefs, and even opportunities to study cultural ecology. In fact, Australia is the only developed country that boasts both these natural and cultural resources, and it is widely considered the world-wide forerunner in coral reef conservation.

Why Study Abroad in Australia?

Australia has many unique advantages as a study abroad destination. Here are ten reasons why you should consider studying abroad in Australia.

1. Strong Academics

Academics are a top priority for Australians, and the country's universities are consistently at the top of the international rankings. Australian universities offer English language classes and degrees, extensive vocational training, and many universities for higher education. The country has 39 universities and a wide selection of top programs that can match any student's career and study interests. Australia ranks third in terms of receiving English speaking international study abroad students, and its excellent universities produce bright independent thinkers. Students will be able to play an active role in guiding their education and will have many opportunities to perform research.

2. Great Sports Programs

Not only is Australia known for its great sporting traditions, but its universities have some of the best kinesiology and sports medicine programs in the world.

3. More Than Just One Culture

The large Australian cities, Sydney in particular, showcase a fantastic juxtaposition of eastern and western culture that you won't find in most other study abroad destinations. You get the benefit of Asian culture without the language barrier.

4. Cost of Living

Financial issues play a large role in a student’s decision regarding when and where to study abroad, especially in today’s economic climate. For American students studying in Australia, the cost of living will likely be lower in Australia than it is at home. Educational programs are also often a better value than their American counterparts.

5. Safety

Safety is another concern for many students. Australia is a safe destination with low crime rates, and since there is no need to learn another language, students can feel more relaxed about being in a new place and asking for help.

6. Moderate Weather

While parts of Australia have more extreme weather than others, the areas that most students are likely to visit during their time in Australia will generally have pleasant weather. While it can get hot and humid, there is a high likelihood that you may have access to a beach for a good part of your time spent abroad – Australia has over 10,000 beaches.

7. Biodiversity

Even if you’re not in a field of study that will have you spending a lot of time outdoors as part of your coursework, Australia’s unique flora and fauna are all around you, and you don’t have to travel into the bush to interact with some of Australia’s unique wildlife – there are zoos, reserves, and other organizations throughout the country, including its major cities.

8. Travel Opportunities

Regardless of their destination, many students like to travel at the conclusion of their study abroad program. Australia provides a great starting point for travel to New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. After your Australia study abroad experience you'll have the option to easily reach many fascinating nearby places.

9. Friendly People

Australians are friendly and helpful. Be courteous and keep an open mind, and you shouldn’t have any problems getting along with anyone you meet.

10. The Great Barrier Reef

Take advantage of this rare and endangered natural wonder before it is too late – you never know if you will get to return to Australia again. Australia is a great place to get certified to dive if you’re not already, but if you (or your budget) isn’t up for it, snorkeling is also an option.

Australia Study Abroad Statistics

Australia Country Ranking: 6

(based on total outbound U.S. students)
  • % of U.S. students: 4.8%
  • Total US Students 2005/06: 10,980
  • Total US Students 2006/07: 10,747
  • Yearly 2006/07 Trend: -2.1%
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    Interested in Asian culture?

    If you are interested in Asia culture studying in Australia is a great choice because there is a large Asian, especially Chinese, population there; you can make friends from different nearby countries and then you'll have people to visit after your studies! :)