Download our guides Your Next Career Accommodation Money and banking Cost of living Visas Employment Health and safety Language Life in Australia Studying Getting around Travel Advertise

6 Reasons You Should Live in a Residential College

This article is sponsored by St Mark's College

Finding a home as an international student is an important step when moving to Australia and a residential college is one option you may not have considered. 

Residential colleges are typically all-inclusive accommodation with affiliations to specific universities. They offer community living – different from a private rental or other types of student accommodation. 

To better understand what life is really like at a college, let’s go straight to the source. Sreenidhi Nair, a Veterinary Science student from New Zealand, and Chi Ho Yip, an Accounting and Finance student from Hong Kong, share what it’s like living at St Mark’s College in Adelaide as international students. 

Making friends is easy

A major advantage to living in a residential college is the chance to build friendships with fellow students from day one. At college, you may have your own room, or share with roommates. 

Living with a roommate can be a great way to quickly meet new people, whereas a private room can be convenient and help you build your independence. 

For Sreenidhi, who has her own private room (like all St Mark’s residents), her floormates became an immediate family. She has her own privacy, but her friends are right next door. 

“It’s a floor-based system so you have your group which is pretty much your entire floor and we all support each other,” she shares. 

“There’s also a Residential Adviser on every single floor and they’re always there to talk to about anything and everything,” Sreenidhi says. “It’s just simple things like celebrating birthdays together. You don’t feel too homesick because of it.”

A strong sense of community

As well as the transition into your new home, residential colleges foster a safe and inclusive environment for students. Communal dining, concerts, quiz nights, and sports are examples of the many social events coordinated throughout the year. 

Chi Ho shares that the communal living aspect of living at St Mark’s was the first thing he noticed when he arrived. 

“I think the first and foremost positive thing about living here is it gives me the opportunity for a community life. 

“Compared to the other option of renting an apartment and living alone – just going to uni and going home to cook or study – that kind of experience would be quite lonely. Here at St Mark’s, I get the opportunity for interaction and communication with so many other people – especially with local students.”

Student support outside of uni

Residential colleges also provide student support, an important resource you won’t find at other types of accommodation. These can include academic support, career support and more. 

St Mark’s has a wide range of student support, including tutoring, personal and professional development, careers workshops, student counselling and wellbeing officers. 

Sreenidhi shares that private tutoring was one of the advantages she has been able to access by living at St Mark’s. 

“It’s really different than if you choose to live in an apartment in Adelaide in the sense that you’re supported academically. Some of the older students who have done very well tutor the first-year students which really helps your learning moving into university.”

Getting one-on-one support from students who have recently taken the class may be a big advantage over group tutoring at your university. 

Chi Ho also praises the support he has had available to him since moving to St Mark’s in 2022. 

“They offer academic support like tutors. They also provide regular academic programs and student wellbeing support. The college has an officer who is responsible for wellbeing and psychological support for students.”

Meals (that’s right – no cooking!)

Another advantage of moving to a residential college as an international student is the access to catered meals. 

Residential colleges typically serve three hot meals per day during the week, and two on weekends (three on Saturdays at St Mark’s!). This means less time shopping, cooking and cleaning for students, while still getting quality time with your friends!

“I am going to be honest – as a first year, I’m not much into cooking!” Sreenidhi laughs. “So, that was a big factor in choosing St Mark’s – the transition from living at home, to having my meals catered.”

She also said they also have formal dinners – known as Formal Halls – a three-course meal with staff, students and faculty, including the Head and Dean of the College – Hogwarts Great Hall dinner vibes…

Australian culture and meeting locals

Living at a residential college will also give you the opportunity to live alongside Australian students who move from other parts of the country for their studies. This can be a great chance to learn the local slang, practise your English and spend time with new Australian friends. 

This is a unique benefit both Sreenidhi and Chi Ho have shared.

“Compared to other international students I know from university, I get a lot more opportunity to interact with local Australian students because I live at St Mark’s,” said Chi Ho. 


While your education provider will likely offer networking opportunities, at a college you may get these opportunities more frequently, on more specialised topics, and in smaller groups. 

These include leadership roles, training courses, guest speakers, mentoring and advice from a global alumni network.

Since arriving at the start of the year, Sreenidhi has attended faculty dinners organised by St Mark’s which have given her the chance to meet and network with other students from her industry.

“I’m in the faculty for agriculture, viticulture, and veterinary and animal science and there are events that help your network in your industry from year one. You find out more about the industry, and about placement offers personally for me.”