As an academic destination, Australia is globally recognized for its quality education system as well as providing extensive knowledge to both domestic and international students. Learning in the nation is not only limited to passing examinations but understanding the very basics of contexts and applying practical knowledge to respective fields in a relevant and coherent manner. In the past few decades, Australia has developed some of the most powerful and effective infrastructural changes in terms of world class facilities and technology at its university campuses. Combined with its already advanced educational infrastructure, it has become a global powerhouse in the fields of business, education, healthcare and numerous others. The purpose of this blog is to allow its reader to better understand the types of Australian universities so students can make a more informed choice about choosing the right  institute for their future education.  

Australian institutes are effectively divided into the following categories: 

I) Group of Eight 

The Group of Eight (Go8) is at the apex of academic associations in Australia and is essentially a group of universities with the most research income. The group traces its roots back to 1994 and was formally incorporated in 1999 in order to appeal to the Commonwealth and Australia to further concentrate resources towards the development of its member universities. In terms of quality of education and prestige, these institutes are the best in Australia with one university located in each Australian mainland capital city and two additional ones in Australia’s biggest cities: 

Besides being some of the highest ranked universities in Australia and the world, what sets these universities apart is their accumulation of academic and socio-economic capital. Studying at these institutes is a matter of great pride and our expertise at Silver Fern Education Consultants will greatly assist you if you are interested in studying at the Group of Eight. .  

II) 1960s & 1970s Universities 

The decade-long period between the 1960s and 70s saw the establishment of a number of State Government funded universities supported by the Commonwealth in response to the rising demands of better higher education institutes. This demand was due to the expansion of enrolments in the mainland capitals as the baby boom generation born right after World War 2 reached university age. Their locations ranged from proximity to central business districts of capitals cities  to comfortable suburbs and their founders wanted to redefine traditional definitions of a classical university. These newer universities would thus inherent novel values of collegial governance, modern architecture and interdisciplinary. These universities today include: 

  • Deakin University (1976) 
  • Flinders University (1966) 
  • Griffith University (1971) 
  • La Trobe University (1967) 
  • Macquarie University (1964) 
  • Murdoch University (1964) 
  • Newcastle University (1965) 
  • University of Wollongong (1975) 

III) New Generation Universities 

Due to the increasing enrollments of high school students into colleges and universities, different countries began to establish new types of academic institutions whether those were polytechnics in the United Kingdom, community colleges in the US and Canada or in Australia’s case, a new generation of advanced education colleges or institutes. These newer institutes bargained for university status and the distinction between university and non university statuses was dissolved in 1988. 2002 saw the emergence of a network of new generation of universities comprising of the following institutions: 

  • Australian Catholic University (1991) 
  • Bond University (1987) 
  • Canberra University (1967) 
  • Edith Cowan University (1991) 
  • University of Notre Dame (1989) 
  • Western Sydney University (1989) 
  • Victoria University (1990) 

Research at these universities is constantly developing and have most of their student numbers in cities of more than 250,000 people.  

IV) Regional Universities 

A number of universities in Australia have sought to distinguish themselves from national universities but their classification was always ambiguous due to the difficulty in coming to an agreement of what ‘regional’ meant as a number of national universities had their campuses in multiple regions in Australia. Finally, in 2011, a group of 6 universities formed the Regional Universities Network with their major focus being on providing quality education to regional populations and driving forward community development. Regional Universities ultimately served regions with a population of less than 250,000 people. These included: 

  • Southern Cross University (1994) 
  • University of Ballarat (1976) 
  • University of the Sunshine Coast (1994) 
  • Central Queensland University (1967) 
  • Charles Darwin University (2003)  
  • Charles Sturt University (1989) 
  • James Cook University (1961)  
  • University of Southern Queensland (1967) 
  • University of New England (1953)  
  • University of Tasmania (1890) 

From battling for their regional status to, today, becoming some of the finest institutes in Australia with high enrollment numbers every year, regional universities today form the heartbeat of Australian education.  

V) Australian Technology Network (ATN)  

ATN was an initial group of 5 institutes, now 6, in Australia that prided themselves on their technical innovation and delivering the highest quality of education outside of the Go8. They formally came together for more support from the Australian government and recognition as senior institutions for vocational higher education in 1975, disbanded in 1982, and re-emerged in 1999 in their current version of the ATN. These institutes include the following institutes: 

  • Deakin University (1974) 
  • Curtin University (1986) 
  • University of Technology Sydney (1988) 
  • University of South Australia (1991) 
  • Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (1887)  
  • The University of Newcastle (1965) 

*Queensland University of Technology (QUT) was an initial member but ceased its membership in 2019 due to a new strategic plan. However, the institute continues to be a leader in technological education in Australia.  

Perhaps the strongest aspect of ATN universities is their focus on real world learning and making students ready for professional life as soon as their programs are complete. Graduates from these institutes are known to undertake world class research and require the least induction training in professional spheres.   

Finally, we at Silver Fern specialise in admission processes in each of these five university categories in Australia and hope that this classification will provide a precursor into a more informed choice for potential students aspiring to study in Australia. 

f you too want to jump-start your study abroad journey, share your profile and get expert guidance from Silver Fern Education Consultants, awaiting you with massive discount and scholarship opportunities in top-tier institutions across the globe.
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