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Choosing Study Destinations – Australia or the United Kingdom

Written by Iona Chew, updated April 2020

IDP Education sees a vast number of students each year, and one of the most common questions and comparisons our Education Counsellors get asked is which study destination is better, UK or Australia? To make things a little simpler, here are some areas for your consideration and comparison when deciding where to study.

Reputation & Quality of Education

Both Australia and the UK are known for their good reputation and high quality of tertiary education. But what does that really mean?

Despite having a population of just over 24 million, Australia has a relatively large number of universities and colleges of world class standards. With a clear framework of recognised qualifications and a reputation for effective teaching and quality research standards, an Australian degree is highly portable around the world. Australia is also considered as a global leader in education, which is one of the many reasons why students from around the world choose to pursue their studies there. Not to forget it is only a couple of hours flight away from Singapore, making it ideal for friends and family to visit often, and for students to fly home during short breaks too.

The UK has a well-established historic reputation for academic excellence and a combination of high-tech modern university teachings. From the traditional red-brick universities that have taught for hundreds of years, to modern, state-of-the-art universities and colleges span throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Its outstanding reputation for research attracts post-graduate students worldwide and the education offers a vast history of teaching the world’s greatest leaders, thinkers and artists. Studying in London is always popular among Singaporeans, where they get to live in one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic cities is a life-changing experience for anyone.

Employment Opportunities

Many of us choose an overseas education with the hopes to improve future career opportunities and to gain further exposure to be industry ready and have better prospective graduate outcomes.

In the UK and Australia, students are able to stay and work after they graduate on a Post Study Work Visa. The ease of getting this visa depends to some extent on your course and results. Students are allowed casual work for up to 20 hours a week, averaging 40 hours a fortnight during the university semester. Some courses also offer work experience or internships as part of the curriculum, providing students with a chance to put their studies into practice and add valuable industry experience to their resume, along with a network of international contacts.

Style of Education & Learning

In the UK, students at university are encouraged to learn independently which is quite different from the education style in Singapore. Lecturers and Professors often provide students with certain guidelines and learning outcomes during the course, leaving the students to research their own resources and critically evaluate and analyse outcomes by forming their own conclusions.

Australia on the other hand offers a combination of guided learning and education styles. University courses are made up of lectures and small class sized tutorials, group work and individual exams and essays. In Australia you are expected to think creatively and independently, and hands-on experience is actively encouraged.

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For many students, the decision ultimately comes down to cost. In the UK, the cost of living may be slightly more expensive (especially in London) but tuition fees are generally lower. The average cost of living per year outside of London for an undergrad can cost anywhere from £9,000 to £11,000 per year. Students considering studying in Australia are looking at a range between AUD$19,830 to AUD$25,000 per year. UK degrees can be completed in three years with embedded honours (saving a year of tuition compared with many other international degrees). In addition, you can complete a Masters program in less time, which makes it more affordable (i.e. an MBA is usually a one-year program in the UK instead of 2 years in Australia). Students in the UK have the opportunity to gain access to free medical care through the NHS if they are studying for more than six months. Exchange rate (GBP £1 = SGD $1.80; AUD $1 =SGD $ 0.87)

Education system

Degrees are much more flexible than in the UK where students decide on a major and stick to it. Universities in Australia allow students to select from a wide range of options to choose from during the first year of study, before narrowing down their choices later on. The Australian university application process is open and inclusive. Whereas the UK university admissions and clearing body UCAS only permits students to hold 2 offers, UK students, when applying to Australian universities, can proceed with as many as 5 offers, including 2 from the UK.

The two semester Australian academic year runs from February to November. Semester one runs from February to June. Semester two runs from July to November. Three months summer break enables students to travel back home, or celebrate Christmas with a barbecue on the Beach or a backpacking tour of Europe with friends.

So, which study destination really is the best for you? It comes down to what you hope to achieve. Have a think about the following when making your decision and make an appointment with an IDP Education Counsellor for more help.

• Does it help you on your future career path and job prospects?

• Will it provide a recognised qualification in your home country like Singapore?

• Will you suit the teaching styles and education system?

• Will you be near friends or relatives?

• Is the course fees and cost of living affordable?


Pursue global perspectives and kick-start your journey to study in an overseas university. Register for our IDP International Education Open Day and get to speak with university representatives. Happening 4 & 5 Sep, 2pm to 6pm - Don't miss out!

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