Students today need universities that have their finger on the pulse of the future, and for the education they receive to prepare them to face the unique societal issues of our modern world.
Sydney, Australia is unique because, besides having several top universities with this mission, the city itself is all about creating a better global future.
Sustainability, community, and innovation are some of the keywords that describe the kind of city Sydney strives to be for those local and abroad.
This capital city of New South Wales prides itself on being a global leader in business and industry and is actively working to secure this designation.
This effort can be seen in initiatives like Sustainable Sydney 2030. With goals that include reducing carbon emissions and improving public transport, this plan lays out a future that ensures the city is working towards being greener, more accessible, and culturally rich.
Sydney’s global reputation is often credited to its famous tourist attractions like the Sydney Opera House, Hyde Park, and the annual Sydney Mardi Gras; but the so-called ‘Harbour City’ has more to offer travelers than beautiful parks, top-notch surfing, cultural museums, fine dining, and fun festivals.
Beyond tourism, Sydney is one of the most welcoming cities to international workers and students.
As part of the city’s vision to contribute to bettering the world, it offers an outstanding international student leadership and ambassador program that invites individuals from all over the world to learn together so they can take vital skills back to enrich their home communities.
Each of the universities on this “Best of” list follows suit with a variety of excellent international student and study abroad programs.
In light of Sydney’s emphasis on global outreach and curating a culture for future leaders, it should come as no surprise that this city is home to some of the best universities in Australia and worldwide.
The schools below are all ranked highly in a variety of areas by publications like The Higher Education World University Rankings, two of them ranking in the top 100 universities globally.
The number of quality higher education institutions on this list is impressive considering all of the schools are either in Sydney or a suburb of Sydney; simply put – there is no doubt this city Down Under is one of the best places to be studying right now. Students may come for the adventure, but they will stay for the rich culture of this historic and future-thinking city.
Here are the best universities in Sydney, Australia.
Australian Catholic University
ACU’s standing among the top 2% of universities globally makes it a prime candidate for anyone looking for quality education at the intersection of faith and reason.
The university walks a balanced line between faith and reason with a wide variety of projects, including sports, psychology, and ethics.
Consider, for instance, Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement Professor Sandra Jones’ Raising Awareness of the Needs of Autistic Australians, which won the 2021 Autism CRC Award for Translation of Autism Research.
Or, if sports medicine is of interest, check out Director of Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies Research Centre (SPRINT) David Opar’s research for the NFL on hamstring injuries.
Beyond the realm of mental health and sport, ACU has a solid commitment to forwarding understanding in spiritual matters.
This dedication can be seen practically in unique projects like EthicsFinder, a special topics search engine that curates resources on ethics and Catholic teachings.
Located in the heart of Northern Sydney – in walking distance of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, no less – with seven other locations across Australia and in Rome, ACU offers a high-quality education experience that is dedicated to ethical work that makes a global impact.
Western Sydney University
Students looking for research universities will have no shortage of options in Sydney, and Western is no exception.
Based on Australia’s national research performance guideline, the ERA, WSU has a five-star ranking (the highest possible) in six different areas of study.
This research is often shared with the public at the annual National Science Week, a project stemming out of Inspiring Australia’s initiative to increase the general public’s access to all things STEMM.
Research doesn’t just mean lab coats and science beakers – WSU also has a thriving Creative Industries degree that allows students access to the ‘Rabbit Hole’ Design Studio where they have access to state-of-the-art technology.
Alumni from the program have gone on to work for big-name organizations like the Discovery Channel, Google, and ABC.
Finally, Western also has a rich Chinese Medicine Centre.
This program grew out of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and gives students the opportunity to learn traditional Chinese medicine methods.
The center even provides medical services to the community, demonstrating WSU’s commitment to putting knowledge into action.
Western allows students to experience both the creative and technological side of Sydney’s education scene.
The only Australian university with a not-for-profit hospital on campus, Macquarie invites students into a learning environment that is all about hands-on experience.
From its ranking as one of the top 100 universities in 2022 for graduate employability to its co-learning-focused pedagogy, Macquarie prides itself on providing students with an education that will equip them for impacting careers..
There is no better place to look for evidence of this commitment to creative and open learning than Macquarie’s alumni.
Students looking to contribute their words and thoughts will be inspired by alumni like New York Times best-selling author Liane Moriarty and one of Australia’s most distinguished intellectuals, Marcia Langton.
If that isn’t enough to impress, MU has produced several Rhodes and Fulbright scholars. This may make MU seem out of reach for some, but if students take advantage of MU’s reputation as the most generous scholarship awarding institution in Australia, they will be one step closer to their dreams.
MU offers a rich learning experience both inside and outside of the university.
Innovative district Mac Park nearby brings the university together with the local business district to create a unique community of entrepreneurs and academics.
And when big city life gets too loud, nearby Lane Cove National Park provides the perfect quiet place to bar-b-que or even get in some camping.
Macquarie University is a shining example of the possibilities that Sydney is striving for; as such, it sits high in the list of universities that are future-focused.
University of Wollongong
Wollongong’s main campus lies about 80 km (that’s about 50 miles for non-Australians) south of Sydney, but three of its campuses pepper southern and central Sydney.
Its expansive reach across the state of New South Wales (NSW) speaks to the success it has achieved in academics, careers, and student life.
Ranked number one by QILT for employer satisfaction among Australian universities, UOW has a reputation for producing individuals who are invaluable in the workplace.
It is no wonder UOW produces excellent scholars with faculty like Senior Professor Sharon Robinson, who works within the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences.
Her dedication to increasing the number of women in STEM has led to her partnering with the Homeward Bound program, a STEM initiative that allows students to conduct climate research in Antarctica.
UOW’s ability to attract quality faculty and staff reflects its success in creating one of the most welcoming and inclusive work environments, earning it the Bronze Award at the Australian Workplace Equity Index.
With top researchers guiding student education, the school can open new facilities like the Jillian Broadbent Building, a creative arts and sciences structure.
This facility has features that would make any creative arts student drool – theaters, recording studios, design studios, and even its own newsroom!
Though UOW excels in many areas, business is one of its passions. The Sydney Business School sits smack dab in the big city’s center, giving students easy access to university partnerships with local organizations.
Not only will students learn to be leaders in the business industry, but they will learn ethical leadership through programs like the Principles of Responsible Management Education, an initiative supported by the United Nations.
Apart from all this, UOW’s proximity to the ocean and nearby beaches offer beautiful views and stellar surfing. Changing the world is always made better with a stellar view.
University of Technology Sydney
The University of Technology Sydney can trace its origins to one of the original mechanics’ institutes established in the mid-1800’s, but this university is anything but stuck in the past.
The 2021 Higher Education World University places UTS at number 9 worldwide in its Young University Rankings.
UTS’s youthful exuberance for Sydney’s vision of a better future sets the tone for the educational environment it provides for students.
As a partner of the Australian Technology Network, a group of five Aussie institutions committed to advancement in technology, health, and economy, UTS has contributed to research areas that include water security, infrastructure robotics, and algae biotechnology.
Partnering with the community is foundational for UTS’s success in providing students with real-world experience.
Students interested in data and cyber security might find themselves working with Telstra, one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies; others with an interest in sport could experience working closely with professional athletes from the Australian Rugby Union.
With award-winning libraries and state-of-the-art green buildings to study and learn in, UTS students are well on their way to being agents of change.
And If that wasn’t enough, it might give any potential student a little thrill to know that when they attend UTS, they attend the alma mater of actor Hugh Jackman.
University of New South Wales
Alma mater to the current Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, UNSW ranks as one of the premier universities in Australia.
Among its many top rankings, UNSW is part of The Group of 8, a collection of prestigious research universities that includes this lists’ number one pick, University of Sydney.
Like many of the universities on this list, UNSW believes in collaborating internationally.
As a result, the university has a robust study abroad program with over 300 possible universities across the globe for students to choose from.
For those wanting to stay closer to home, one of UNSW Sydney’s biggest draws is its world-renowned medical program.
Medicine contains more questions than answers, and it takes skilled educators to tackle some of the toughest questions.
UNSW researchers Associate Professor David Ziegler and Professor James McAuley offer students the opportunity to participate in research on complex medical issues like phantom limb syndrome and childhood cancer.
With a recent grant of $3 million from the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need program, both researchers are conducting clinical trials that could lead to life-changing medical advances.
No matter the discipline a student might pursue, education across the board at UNSW has prioritized accessibility and innovation.
In addition to a top-notch online and hybrid teaching model, research into technology and instructional design has won the university the prestigious iLRN Champions in Higher Education for XR Award.
By utilizing immersive and virtual reality technology in learning, faculty members like Associate Professor Simon McIntyre and Dr. Teresa Crea create degree programs that push UNSW Sydney’s education beyond the 21st century.
University of Sydney
Drive south from Australian Catholic University, cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and there sits Australia’s first university, USYD. There is a reason this university lands in the number one spot.
Academically, USYD has a long list of top rankings, awards, and distinguished alumni to its name.
Home of five Nobel laureates, including the only New South Wales native, chemist John Cornforth, alma mater to seven prime ministers, and producer of 24 Rhodes Scholars – the list of accomplished students and faculty is enough to inspire the most avid scholar.
An acceptance rate of around 30% makes USYD one of the more challenging Australian universities to get into, but its scholarship program spends $105 million on financial aid awards to support those students who do get accepted.
Upon acceptance, students have access to instructors who are leaders in various areas, including hydrogen storage, digital communication theory, and eating disorders.
Beyond academics, USYD has plenty of unique sites to explore. Students and curious spectators who roam the campus will see historic gothic architecture, award-winning museums, the most extensive academic library in the southern hemisphere, and the beloved Quadrangle.
USYD isn’t slowing down in its desire to live up to its ranking as one of the top 100 universities in the world.
Its future plans include building a brand new campus in Western Sydney that would not only serve at least 25,000 more students, but also pour an estimated $60 billion into New South Wales’ economy.
Students who attend USYD will not only be part of a thriving university, but they will have a part in creating a more prosperous and welcoming Sydney.