Select Page

Student Life

What can you expect from university life in Australia or New Zealand? It’s not as different to the UK as you might expect…

Your first impressions are likely to be that your chosen university looks much like a university in the UK (though it is much more likely to be bathed in sunshine).

There are a range of universities in Australia and New Zealand, in terms of both personality and appearance. Some are self-contained campuses, located on the edge of a city within their own grounds, others have several sites spread throughout a city.

Campuses usually feature a mix of architecture, depending on when the university was founded – the older institutions in Australia and New Zealand were established in the mid– to late–1800s, so are made up of period and contemporary buildings, while another group, set up in the 1960s and 1970s, are more modern in appearance.

Regardless of what they look like, however, they have all the facilities and features you should expect of modern, well-equipped university campuses anywhere in the world including libraries, learning spaces, cafés, laboratories, bookshops, bars, and student clubs and societies catering for a wealth of different tastes and interests.

Student accommodation in Australia and New Zealand

Getting the right accommodation as a student is key in setting you up for a good university experience. This takes a little extra planning when applying from overseas. Accommodation application processes and timeframes are different to the UK so it’s important to start looking into the options available early.

What are my options?
The different types of accommodation available are similar to the UK. These include halls of residence, university-run or managed apartments, or renting a room in a flat or a house. Some universities, including the University of Otago, the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, and the University of Queensland, for example, also have residential colleges.
What are residential colleges?
These are usually located on campus, but are managed and run independently of the university – many have historic affiliations to church groups. They are often relatively small in terms of the number of students they house (anywhere between 80 – 600 students) and foster a strong sense of community through academic support groups and lots of sporting, musical and other recreational activities. The majority are fully-catered. Some students love the closeness and the level of support they offer; others prefer a little more independence.
I’m going to be an undergraduate student – what sort of housing do you recommend I go for?
We strongly advise that first year undergraduate students opt for some form of university accommodation. Living in halls, a residential college or in university flats is a great way of meeting new friends and offers a layer of extra pastoral and practical support that can be reassuring if this is your first real stint away from home. University accommodation is a key step in managing the transition from school to full-on independent adult living!
I’ll be a postgraduate student – what sort of housing should I look for?
On-campus accommodation in Australia and New Zealand is often dominated by undergraduate students. While there are some halls of residence reserved for students doing higher degrees, and others that offer tutoring positions and accommodation to postgrads (in-house tutoring is commonly found in residential colleges), lots of postgraduate students prefer to avoid living on-campus and go for private housing instead. This means arriving a few weeks before the term starts and living in temporary accommodation while looking for a suitable place to rent.
How do I go about renting a house or a flat privately?

To get idea of what rental prices are like in a particular city, have a look at, which carries free local classified advertising and has become the go-to site for many young Australians looking for a place to rent. Once you’re on the Gumtree homepage you can click on to the site specific to your destination state. A similar site for New Zealand is

While it is always a good idea to research the housing market and rental options in an area or a city before you arrive, so you know what to expect, we would strongly advise you not to sign any contracts until you arrive in Australia or New Zealand. There’s usually a big range of properties, prices and locations available at any time and it’s difficult to make a properly informed decision unless you’re actually there in person to check out all-important factors like public transport links, value for money, what the neighbourhood feels like, safety and so on. Just as in the UK, you will be required to sign a lease or tenancy agreement when you take on a rental property, which is usually for at least six months. Once signed, these agreements are very difficult to get out of if the house or flat isn’t what you’d expected. So, do the groundwork before you go, but don’t commit!

When do I need to do this?

We would recommend you start researching the accommodation options at your chosen universities as early as you can (once you have submitted your applications for admission to a course, ideally) as on-campus housing application deadlines are often early, and places are limited. The best sources of information are the university accommodation service websites, which often have online application forms as well as useful advice and contacts. If you’d like to discuss the options or want some help with the whole process, please contact us to speak to an advisor on 0117 911 5610 or

What happens if something goes wrong while I’m away?

The first place to go, at the first sign of trouble, is International Student Support. Every Australian and New Zealand university has one of these – a dedicated team of people whose job it is to help with any problem you might be having, whether it is academic, personal, financial or practical. Having trouble with a course? Tell them, they will be able to put you in touch with an academic support service or help liaise with the faculty to sort it out.

Worried that a landlord is taking liberties? Take your tenancy contract in to them to check. Can’t get rid of your homesickness? Talk to one of the student counsellors. Whatever the problem, International Student Support will either be able to help you directly, or to refer you to someone else who can. Remember: Help is always there, so make sure you ask for it! If you don’t tell anyone when something is wrong, they won’t be able to help you.