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The Benefits of Studying (and Working) in Canberra

This article is sponsored by Study Canberra

Canberra is known as Australia’s cool little capital, and it’s not hard to see why. Canberrans love visiting the many cafés, bars and museums around the city, as well as exploring the pristine bushland that surrounds it.

Canberra sits at #30 globally in the QS Best Student Cities 2024 rankings, with both the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC) popular destinations for international students. The city also hosts four other tertiary institutions; UNSW Canberra, Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University and Canberra Institute of Technology.

We explore the many advantages of studying and working in Canberra, with insights from Ankita Unnikrishnan, a student from Bangalore, India. Pursuing a double degree in Science and Design at the Australian National University, Ankita shares her experiences as an international student and gives us a real look at why Canberra is a popular choice for students from around the world.

Study at one of Australia’s top universities

Did you know that Canberra is home to Australia’s most internationally renowned university? Ranked 34th in the world, ANU is a research-intensive university that specialises in social sciences, arts and humanities. ANU counts six Nobel Laureates among its staff and alumni, including current Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt who claimed the prize in 2011 for his achievements in physics.

Ankita shares her experience at the university: “The faculty at ANU stands out as exemplary in their respective fields. The support and guidance I’ve received from my tutors have been nothing short of excellent. The uni has provided me with a top-notch education and opened doors to promising job opportunities aligned with my field of study.”

With ANU ranking 66th in the world for graduate employability, students like Ankita are well-prepared to start their careers with a solid foundation.

Immerse yourself in politics

Canberrans are at the heart of Australian politics. Whether you’re interested in the environment, health, education or international relations, policy debates are always front and centre in Australia’s capital and you’ll find yourself sharing ideas with students from all over the world. Canberra is also home to nearly 80 embassies and consulates, many of which offer internships or work experience to students interested in a career in diplomacy. 

“Canberra, with its relatively small community, has proven to be an ideal environment for cultivating connections, leading to valuable associations with well-established organisations,” says Ankita. “This has not only translated into professional success but has also allowed me to garner awards and engage with influential figures in politics, further reinforcing Canberra as an exceptional hub for those pursuing careers in the environmental sector.”

Balance your budget

The cost of living in Canberra is lower than in many of Australia’s other major cities. For example, consumer goods, rent and groceries are considerably cheaper in Canberra than in Sydney. To help you make the most of this cost-effective environment, consider Ankita’s advice: “I plan my grocery trips fortnightly, transitioning from relying on takeout to embracing meal preparation. It teaches you the cost-effectiveness of different ingredients and optimises your budget, contributing to a sustainable student lifestyle.”

Transport Canberra also offers concessions on public transport costs for full-time tertiary students, making it even more affordable. For a more detailed estimate of your living expenses, check out our cost of living calculator.

Not only is Canberra a cost-effective destination for students, but it also offers some of the best earning potential in the country. Jobs are available across industries like hospitality, construction, consulting and retail, meaning you’re likely to find work that aligns with your interests in Canberra.

A hub for innovators

Have you ever considered inventing your own product or founding your own business? Canberra could be the perfect place to do it. Canberra is home to the highest patents per capita in Australia, a sign of a forward-thinking and innovative population. Given that Canberra is at the forefront of government, you’ll also enjoy plenty of opportunities for policymaking and startup development here.

As an innovator, you’ll also have heaps of support in Canberra. The Canberra Business Innovation Network (CBRIN) hosts First Wednesday meetups to promote collaboration among entrepreneurs and inventors in the city. Once a month, you’ll have the chance to meet and chat with like-minded people, and explore business opportunities.

Keep it simple with great infrastructure 

Canberra has one of the largest free public Wi-Fi networks in Australia and an extensive network of bike paths all over the city, complemented by convenient public transport options like light rail. Additionally, all buses are equipped with bike racks, making commuting with bicycles a breeze. “I love exploring Canberra on my bike, especially around Lake Burley Griffin, and enjoying the city’s natural beauty,” shares Ankita.

Little things like this make your life in Canberra easy, meaning you can juggle your work, study and social life without a worry. This blend of conveniences is why Canberra is not just internationally recognised for its liveability, but also valued by its residents as a comfortable and practical place to live.

Study in Canberra’s intellectual capital

Believe it or not, Canberra isn’t just Australia’s capital – it’s Australia’s intellectual capital, too! The city has more tertiary qualifications per capita than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere. Many of those qualifications are held by international students, who account for 16 per cent of Canberra’s university graduates! Surrounded by bright and curious minds, you’ll ensure you get the most enriching international study experience possible.

Get ahead of the game

At both ANU and UC, new undergraduate students are guaranteed accommodation, which may be on or off-campus, for their first year. ANU extends this accommodation guarantee to all new undergraduate and postgraduate students. Similarly, UC offers this guarantee to all new and continuing international students, as well as new domestic students.

Having your accommodation sorted for the first year of your university experience takes a lot of the stress out of moving countries. Not to mention, it’s a great way to meet new friends who live close by and get involved in your student community.

“My personal experience living in a residential college during my first year of university was transformative. I not only found a comfortable living space but also forged lasting friendships with fellow students who became my closest companions,” Ankita shares. “The residential college environment fosters a sense of community, making it easier for newcomers to integrate and build connections.”

Explore Study Canberra’s website for more reasons to live, study and work in this beautiful city.