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What is it Like Studying in Regional Australia?

Are you considering furthering your education in regional Australia? You won’t be disappointed if you do. When it comes to studying in regional Australia and its benefits for international students, there are several that make it an increasingly attractive option. From a more relaxed lifestyle to improved employment prospects to financial support from your education provider – the list goes on!

Read on to learn about the exciting opportunities for international students studying in regional Australia.

Where is regional Australia? 

The Australian Government defines all locations outside the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as regional areas.

However, this does not mean that regional Australia is comprised of only small towns. Bustling, cosmopolitan cities and areas such as Perth, Adelaide, Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Cairns, Townsville, Canberra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Wollongong and Hobart are all classified as “Cities and Major Regional Centres” and therefore qualify as regional areas. That said, even when you study in a small city or town, you won’t run out of things to do! These spots still offer the same hospitality, nightlife and amenities as major cities, as well as many additional benefits of studying in a regional area.

What to expect when studying in regional Australia

International students studying at regional universities benefit from smaller class sizes and a greater sense of community with their fellow students. You will also enjoy a more affordable cost of living, with accommodation costs running lower in regional areas than metropolitan cities. For instance, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a regional city like Bathurst or Wagga Wagga will be notably cheaper than for a one-bedroom apartment in a major city like Sydney.

Many students and locals decide to live in regional areas to escape the “hustle and bustle” of city life. It is generally accepted that life in regional Australia is safer and more relaxed than in major cities, with locals tending to be very friendly and talkative. If you would like to experience a slightly slower pace, cleaner air and a lower cost of living, regional Australia might be the place for you!

Even with all this information, you may still be wondering: what exactly is there to do in regional Australia? The answer will depend on where in regional Australia you choose to study! Many international students feel their time spent regionally has shown them ‘the real Australia’, from the outback to the ocean and everything in between. In other words, many of those bucket list items you created when you first selected Australia as your study destination are likely located in regional areas. In short, studying in regional Australia will give you a well-rounded Aussie experience with lots of incredible travel opportunities.

Finding work in regional areas

When considering the pros and cons of studying in regional Australia, many international students are concerned about employment opportunities. However, this is no cause for concern. While major cities may have more jobs available, there is far less competition in regional Australia for the jobs on offer. This means you may have a better chance of securing employment when living in regional areas. 

In fact, Australia is currently witnessing a job vacancies boom unique to regional areas. In 2020, there was a record of 54,000 advertisements for job opportunities in regional areas. The job vacancy data signalled that this steady growth was not mirrored in Australia’s major cities.

Regional Australia is also home to many location-specific part-time employment options, including fruit-picking and farm work, which are not viable options when living in a major city.

What are the benefits of studying in regional Australia for international students?  

Still need a little more convincing? Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of studying in regional Australia for international students:

Firstly, the cost of living is highest in major cities, particularly accommodation expenses. As we mentioned previously, you can expect to spend less on housing when you live and study in a regional area, which is ideal for students on a tight budget. 

Additionally, there is a huge range of scholarships available to international students across regional Australia to help with tuition fees. Check with education providers directly to see what scholarships they offer for international students.

When you study in regional Australia, you’ll also have access to location-specific course offerings, such as agriculture in rural areas or environmental science in bounties of native flora. You’ll also reap the benefits of unique experiences outside the classroom and gain networking opportunities within these industries before you graduate.

The Australian Government also offers additional opportunities for migration for eligible international students who have studied regionally, such as the provision of skilled visas (which provide a pathway to permanent residency), an extra one or two years on the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa, and additional points on the Skilled Migration points test.

Where should I study in regional Australia? 

At the end of the day, only you can decide where to study in regional Australia. Ultimately, your choice will depend on the kind of lifestyle you are seeking while studying at a regional university. Sun-seekers and ocean-lovers alike might opt to study on the idyllic coast in areas such as Port Macquarie. On the other hand, international students looking for a more rural experience might choose to study inland, in country towns like Wagga Wagga or Orange. 

Certain capital cities are also considered regional destinations. If you’re keen on a unique Aussie experience but require the familiar cosmopolitan offerings of a city, those areas may be a great option for you. You can also explore the small towns situated close to cities, such as Bathurst. These destinations have the benefits of cities in close reach, whilst retaining the relaxed lifestyle intrinsic to a regional dwelling.

A great place to start when choosing your study location is to consider the courses you are interested in and selecting a location based on where that is offered.

Named the #1 university for graduate employment, Charles Sturt University is the ideal place to begin your study journey in regional Australia. With campuses in some of New South Wales’ fastest-growing regional cities, you’ll benefit from a unique study experience with access to the best of city and regional living.

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. Charles Sturt University CRICOS Provider Number: 00005F