As the capital city of Western Australia, Perth is usually associated with sun, surf and the outdoors. However, the state is also home to five well-established universities that offer a range of degrees and educational experiences. If you’re considering studying in Australia, here’s our guide to universities in WA.

Curtin University 

Established: 1966, awarded university status in 1987. It was known as Curtin University of Technology until 2011.

Location: Curtin’s main campus is located in the Perth suburb of Bentley. Other campuses can be found in Perth City, Kalgoorlie, Dubai, Malaysia, Mauritius and Singapore. In addition to these locations, Curtin offers courses in humanities and business in other WA regional centres including Albany, Geraldton and Port Hedland.

Courses: Curtin teaches courses through the faculties of Business and Law, Health Sciences, Humanities and Science and Engineering, as well as its Centre for Aboriginal Studies.

Student population: Curtin had 56,695 students in 2018, of whom 14,283 were international students. The most common countries of origin for international students are China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Graduate success rate: Curtin is ranked in the 201-250 range for graduate employability by QS. 

Global rankings and awards: Curtin comes in at 230th in QS World University rankings. It is ranked second in the world for Engineering (Mineral and Mining) and 5th in Australia for Architecture. 

Notable alumni include best-selling author Tim Winton, award-winning TV presenter Carrie Bickmore and internationally recognised singer-songwriter John Butler of the John Butler Trio.

Fun fact: The university was named after John Curtin, who was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1941 to 1945. 

Murdoch University 

Established: 1973

Location: Murdoch has its main campus in Perth, with additional campuses in Mandurah, Rockingham, Singapore, Dubai and Myanmar.

Courses: Students at Murdoch can study subjects across the faculties of Arts, Business and Governance, Education, Engineering and Informational Technology, Health, Law, Psychology and Exercise Science, Veterinary and Life Science and Public Policy and International Affairs. 

Notable alumni include Labor politician Melissa Parke, TV personality Basil Zempilas and Deputy Premier of WA Mark McGowan. 

Student population: Around 24,000 students are enrolled at Murdoch, of whom 2100 are onshore international and 3800 are offshore international students. 

Graduate success rate: Murdoch is ranked highest in Australia for medium-term overall employment, according to the QILT survey. 63% of students were in full-time employment four months after graduation, with 84% of graduates employed overall. 

Global rankings and awards: Murdoch is ranked in the 571 – 580 range in the QS World University rankings. It also places in the top 50 under 50, a ranking of young universities around the world.

Fun fact: The university was named after Sir Walter Murdoch, a prominent Australian writer and educator. 

University of Western Australia (UWA)

Established: 1911 

Location: UWA’s main campus is in the Perth suburb of Crawley. It also has campuses in Claremont and Albany.

Courses: UWA offers subjects across the faculties of Arts, Business, Law and Education, Science, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Health and Medical Sciences, School of Indigenous Studies and the Graduate Research School. 

Student population: UWA currently has 23,765 students enrolled, of whom over 5000 are international students from over 100 countries. 

Graduate success rate: 58% of UWA graduates were in full-time employment within four months according to the QILT survey, with 83% employed overall. The university is ranked in the 151-160 range for graduate employability by QS. 

Notable alumni include former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke, comedian Tim Minchin, Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett and epidemiologist Dr Fiona Stanley.

Global rankings and awards: UWA is ranked 86th in QS World University Rankings. It was also awarded five stars for student demand, student/staff ratio and student retention by QS.

Fun fact: UWA was ranked first in Australia and 19th in the world for Environmental Science and Engineering in 2019, according to the ARWU.

University of Notre Dame 

Established: 1989

Location: Notre Dame’s main campus can be found in Fremantle, with additional locations in Broome and Sydney, as well as seven clinical schools across Australia.  

Courses: Notre Dame offers degrees across the faculties of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Philosophy and Theology and Physiotherapy. 

Student population: Notre Dame is home to over 12,000 students, with a maximum of 10% international students each year to allow the university to provide the necessary support and encourage immersion in Australian culture. 

Notable alumni include Australian skeleton racer and premiership hockey player Lucy Chaffer, Australian politician James Griffin and Former President of Law Society WA Hayley Cormann.

Graduate success rate: 80% of Notre Dame students were in full-time employment four months after graduation, according to the QILT survey. 90% of graduates were employed overall.

Global rankings and awards: As a small, private institution, the University of Notre Dame does not rank on a global scale. However, Notre Dame University achieved five stars across all but one measure of student experience and graduate outcomes at institution level in the 2018 edition of the Good Universities Guide. It is in the top 20% of Australia for every measure except Learning Resources.

UWA also came first in Western Australia in the QILT survey in six categories: Overall Graduate Satisfaction, Teaching Scale, Skills Scale, Median Salary, Full-time Employment and Overall Employment.

Fun fact: The Notre Dame motto is In Principio Erat Verbum, or ‘In the Beginning was the Word’, indicating its Catholic heritage.

Edith Cowan University (ECU)

Established: 1991

Location: ECU has its main Joondalup campus in Perth, as well as the Mount Lawley campus and South West campus in Bunbury.

Courses: UWA offers degrees across the faculties of Arts and Humanities, Business and Law, Education, Engineering, Medical and Health Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery and Science, plus the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and the Kurongkurl Katitjin Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research.

Student population: ECU has more than 30,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, including around 6,000 international students from more than 100 countries.

Notable alumni include actor Hugh Jackman, politician and counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly, and former Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka Editor-in-Chief Trevina Abeyesundere.

Graduate success rate: 60% of ECU graduates were in full-time employment four months after leaving university, according to the QILT survey in 2018. 84% of graduates were employed overall.

Global rankings and awards: ECU is ranked in the 651 – 700 range in the QS World University Rankings. For sports-related subjects, it is rated in the top 100 in the world.  

ECU has received a five-star rating for teaching quality for 12 years in a row in the 2019 Good Universities Guide. ECU has also been ranked in the world’s top 150 universities under 50 years old in the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) Young Universities Rankings.

Fun fact: ECU was named after the first woman to be elected to Australian Parliament and is still the only Australian university named for a woman. Cowan was an advocate for public education and the rights of women and children.


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