Living in AustraliaStudy in Sydney: Universities, Student Life, and Living Costs

Study in Sydney: Universities, Student Life, and Living Costs

If you’re one to enjoy city life with the opportunity for a quick escape to the sea, or if you want to study in a vibrant city with multiple attractions and some of the best global universities, Sydney is the place for you. 

Also known as Emerald City for being a metropolis, Sydney is the capital of New South Wales, an Australian state that hosted around 244,193 international students just in the last year. 

Studying in Sydney means studying in a city with a high quality of life, amazing weather, a thriving student life, and countless resources for students. If you’re exploring the idea of studying here, here’s everything you need to know.

Top Reasons to Study in Sydney

There is a myriad of reasons why Sydney is an ideal study destination. Here are some fun facts and reasons to consider studying in Harbour City (that’s another nickname for Sydney).

  • Sydney was ranked the fourth safest city in the world in Safe Cities Index 2021.
  • You’ve probably heard of the famous Bondi Beach. However, Sydney has over 100 other beautiful beaches to choose from.
  • Sydney has some of the most famous landmarks in the world, including the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • With over 240 kilometres (150 mi) of shoreline, Sydney has one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
  • Sydney is home to globally leading education institutions such as The University of Sydney and The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney).
  • Sydney’s climate is agreeable throughout the entire year; the city has over 300 days of visible sunshine.
  • Sydney is one of the first cities to welcome the New Year and has amazing fireworks displays to celebrate it each year.
  • Sydney is one of the most multicultural cities globally, with around 44% of its inhabitants being born overseas.
  • With the highest concentration of professional workers per capital city and headquarters of the majority of ASX-listed companies, Sydney is considered Australia’s economic and financial capital.

Best Universities in Sydney

Apart from its beautiful natural sights and magnificent architecture, Sydney is also home to some prestigious universities that continuously rank among the top universities in the world. 

If you’re planning to study abroad in Sydney, Australia, here are some of the best universities that you should consider:

The University of Sydney

With over 170 years of shaping Australian education since its establishment, the University of Sydney is a leading educational institution both nationally and internationally. Consistently ranking in the top 50 universities globally, this university gathers students from all over the world due to its quality of education and prestige. Here, you’ll find numerous undergraduate, postgraduate, and research programs in various disciplines. 

The University of Sydney consists of the following faculties and schools:

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Medicine and Health
  • Faculty of Science
  • School of Architecture, Design and Planning
  • University of Sydney Business School
  • Conservatorium of Music
  • Sydney Law School

The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney)

Another globally-leading tertiary institution, the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) was established in 1949 and has since then made an ongoing contribution to education and society in Australia. The university offers plenty of undergraduate, postgraduate, and graduate research programs. 

The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) is divided into seven main faculties for you to choose from:

  • Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture
  • UNSW Business School
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • UNSW Law
  • UNSW Medicine
  • UNSW Science
  • UNSW Canberra (tertiary education for midshipmen and officer cadets of the Australian Defence Force)

University of Technology Sydney

With many areas of study ranking in the top 100 in the world, the University of Technology Sydney is another high-quality educational institution in Sydney. This university offers more than 130 undergraduate and 210 postgraduate courses across a variety of exciting fields of study. 

You can choose from these courses in one of the nine schools and faculties that the University of Technology Sydney offers:

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • UTS Business School
  • Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
  • Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology
  • Faculty of Health
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Science
  • Graduate School of Health
  • TD School (Transdisciplinary School)

Macquarie University

Founded in 1964, Macquarie University has gained global recognition in key research areas and continuously improves to offer Australian and international students a quality education. With top-notch facilities and a variety of study subjects to choose from, this university is a great choice if you’re planning to study in Sydney. 

Macquarie University is divided into four major faculties:

  • Faculty of Arts
  • Macquarie Business School
  • Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering

Read more about the top universities in Sydney.

Student Life in Sydney

Sydney student life has much more to offer than just studying or researching at your university. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and countless attractions, Sydney has something for everyone. Especially after the relaxation of COVID-19 measures, the city’s cultural and entertainment scenes are booming.

Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Socialising. It is important for every student, especially international students, to make time for their hobbies and extracurricular activities. By doing so, you will both improve your physical and mental health and make some friends along the way. Most universities in Sydney offer a wide range of clubs, societies, and sports and recreation facilities.
  • Food and coffee. If you’re a restaurant connoisseur and like to try new fine-dining places, try Aalia for Middle Easter Fine Dining, Restaurant Hubert for classic French dishes, or the delicious French-Asian tasting menu at Tetsuya’s Restaurant. For some cheap eats, visit Bar Reggio for mouth-watering Italian pizza & pasta, Spice I am for Thai food, or get some tasty takeaway at Malay Chinese Takeaway. And if you enjoy sipping some coffee at a cute coffee shop, Boon Cafe, La Renaissance Patisserie (The Rocks), Two Good Eggs Cafe, Celsius Coffee Co., and Café Monstera are just a few of the many lovely spots in Sydney.
  • Student resources. Each international student may need additional support at some point, and for this, the NSW Government established Study NSW. Study NSW provides various free programs to help students with resources for living, studying, and working in the state. A lot of universities also have their own student support centres with access to counselling and mental health support, career centres, health services, learning support, and more.

Top Things To See and Do in Sydney

We’ve established that there is plenty to see and do in Sydney, but here is a checklist of the main attractions you should check out when you make it to the city and have some time on your hands:

  • Sydney Opera House
  • Sydney Harbour & Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Sydney Ferries
  • Royal Botanic Garden
  • Manly Beach
  • Darling Harbour
  • The Rocks
  • Taronga Zoo Sydney
  • Queen Victoria Building 
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Bondi Beach
  • Sydney Tower Eye Observation Deck
  • Watsons Bay
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral

Public Transportation in Sydney

Sydney is a popular tourist destination and, therefore, a busy transportation hub. Sydney Airport offers plenty of domestic and international flights and connections. As for public transport, New South Wales uses a smartcard ticketing system called Opal. You can use your Opal card for the metro/train, bus, ferry, and light rail services in Sydney and its suburbs. 

The Opal card is available to buy online or from over-the-counter sellers. Student concessions for this card are available only for a small number of students who study full-time under some Australian Government scholarships.

Sydney Cost of Living and Student Accommodation

Being a popular Australian city and a gathering place for many internationals who want to live and study here, Sydney is known for having a high cost of living. However, seeing as it is also one of the most livable cities in the world, it offers plenty of opportunities to live comfortably as a student. Many students work part-time to support themselves and finance their studies.

Please note that all rates presented below are $AUD.

Cost of Living

Your cost of living expenses will depend on numerous factors such as what type of accommodation you live in, how much you eat out vs preparing food yourself, and how much you spend on entertainment, clothing, utilities, etc. 

Considering these factors, you can approximately expect to spend around $4,000 to $4,500 (2,650 to 3,000 USD) per month for accommodation and other expenses. 

Use this Cost of Living Calculator to calculate your monthly expenses according to your lifestyle and accommodation.

Student Accommodation

There is a variety of student accommodations in Sydney, including on-campus accommodations, purpose-built student accommodations, private rentals, homestay, etc. Most universities offer on-campus rooms that are often a popular choice for international students due to utilities and other amenities being included in the fee. 

University-provided accommodation

Here are some of the university-provided accommodation options available at some popular universities in Sydney. We have provided the fees for single rooms or studios for comparison. However, note that some of these student residences have other options, such as twin studios, 4-bedroom apartments, 6-bedroom apartments, etc.

The University of Sydney
Queen Mary BuildingSingle room$326 per week
AbercrombieSingle room$449 per week
The RegimentSingle room$344 per week
The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney)
Colombo HouseSingle room$349.95 per week
Fig Tree HallSingle room$519.45 per week
International HouseSingle room$355.00 per week
The Kensington CollegesSingle room (shared bathroom)$476.45 per week
UNSW HallSingle room$429.50 per week
University of Technology Sydney
Yura MudangStandard (small) Studio Apartment$274.62 per week
Macquarie University
Central CourtyardStudio apartment$450.00 per week

Private flat & house-sharing

A lot of students also prefer sharing a private rented apartment or house with other students. and are some great websites where you can search for rooms or flatmates in Australia. Prices per room in 2023 typically range from $250 to $500 weekly, depending on the location and type of accommodation.

Purpose-built student accommodation

As for purpose-built student accommodations, some of the most popular include Sydney University Village, Urbanest, Iglu, Stucco Student Cooperative, Scape, and UniLodge, Castle Student Accommodation. These are spread out across various locations in Sydney, so you can choose one that is closer to your university. 

For example, if you’re studying at the University of Sydney, UNSW Sydney, or University of Technology Sydney, Iglu Broadway, Central, Central Park, Mascot, and Redfern are closer (starting at $549 per week). If you’re studying at Macquarie University, Iglu Chatswood is closer to your university (starting at $479 per week).


Last but not least, homestay accommodation is also an option for students. This type of accommodation involves paying for a private room in a residence shared typically with a local family. You can find homestay opportunities at Auzzie Families, Global Experience, Study Vision, and more. Prices for this type of accommodation typically range from $350 to $400 weekly.

Sydney is a city of numerous possibilities and educational excellence. You’ll have the chance to study in some prestigious institutions, meet people from around the world, and enjoy living in a metropolitan city without compromising on nature and the spectacular sights of the ocean.

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