USA vs Australia for students

Are you looking to study abroad?

Well then, you’ll know that deciding where you want to study is possibly one of the hardest decisions ever! There are just so many options, each more attractive than the other! Should you go for the best-ranking university or the country with the lowest crime rate? Should you settle for an affordable lifestyle or better career prospects? It’s a tough choice indeed.

But don’t fret anymore because we’re going to help you make this decision in a matter of minutes- yes, really!

The top options for international students looking to study abroad are usually Australia and the USA, but then again, when it comes to USA vs Australia for students, what are you supposed to choose? Well, we’ve researched the different universities, English-speaking requirements, student visa processing protocols, job prospects, student safety records, and post-study benefits of both countries to settle the debate once and for all.

So, USA vs Australia for students- which is better? You’re about to find out!


When it comes to choosing a university, you generally consider the course fee, duration of the course, and, of course, the institute’s ranking. And obviously, this information will vary depending on the specific program you’re interested in. As for the USA vs Australia for students debate, we can compare the university rankings and fee structure to see which country comes out on top. No doubt, both countries offer excellent education which is why they’re the top choices for most international students. However, there’s got to be only one winner, so let’s go a tad deeper to see which country is better in terms of universities.

Australian universities offer mostly 3-year undergraduate degrees unless you go for an engineering or honours program, in which case it might take you 4 years. American universities, on the other hand, offer standard 4-year bachelor’s programs. As for the fee structure, Australian universities offer courses for $28,000 to $43,000 depending on which program you opt for. This is equivalent to around 20,000 to 31,000 USD while education in the USA can be pretty expensive. You can expect to pay anywhere between 20,000 to 50,000 USD for a degree in the USA, depending, of course, on the specific course you choose. However, you can also go to some of the relatively cheap universities like Arizona State University where the tuition fee is only around 12,000 USD a year.

Still, when we compare rankings, both USA and Australia have some high-ranking universities. But the American universities that are high-ranking are mostly also super expensive while Australia offers both quality and affordability together. Hence, the clear winner for USA vs Australia for students in terms of the universities is definitely Australia.

English & other requirements

Australian universities require each band 7 in IELTS for all levels of nursing degrees. For bachelor’s in other courses like accounting, IT, and business, you’ll need to attain an overall score of 6 and a minimum score of 5.5 bands in each IELTS section. And for master-level courses, you need an overall 6.5 score and not less than 6 in each band. Australian universities accept IETLS academic, TOEFL, and PTE Academic as English aptitude tests. On the other hand, to study in the USA, you will need to give GRE, SAT, or GMAT in addition to an English aptitude test. You need an approximate IELTS score of at least 6.5 for direct admission in both bachelor and master in the USA. But US universities also accept TOEFL iBT, IELTS academic, PTE academic and even Duolingo! If you have a Duolingo score of 110, you can easily get admitted to both bachelor’s and master’s programs in the USA.

So, if you’re a foreigner with some level of difficulty speaking English, then Australia should be your number one choice because the minimum score is less intimidating.

Student visa processing & interview

Getting a visa for Australia is relatively easier than for most other countries. Processing times depend on the specific sector you’re applying to. For instance, 50% of applications are returned within 29 days and 75% within 57 days for the Higher Education sector while the vocational education and training sector returns 50% of applications in 54 days and 75% in 7 months. Also, Australia takes interviews rarely and that too over the phone only which is quite convenient since you won’t have to dress up and go to the venue to give the interview. As for the USA, student visa processing times will vary depending on your country. It can take anywhere between 3 days to 3 months, and you will also have to show up for the interview in order to actually be considered eligible. Nevertheless, so long as you submit all the requirements, your visa should be accepted, though it’s no way near as easy as Australia.

Therefore, when talking about student visa application and processing, Australia definitely is easier to apply for than the USA.

Student safety

When we talk about student safety, there is no question that Australia is the safest country for students. Australia is surely much safer than the USA because its crime rate is significantly lower. San Diego is considered one of the safest student cities in the USA but it is not the best in terms of educational prospects. On the contrary, Canberra is the safest among the 5 major cities in Australia, and it has some of the best universities in the country! Thus, Australia definitely beats the USA when it comes to student safety.

Jobs for students

Getting a job in the USA is super hard, even for Americans. As for Australia, the job market is pretty competitive but that doesn’t mean you won’t get a job. There are many opportunities in Australia, and with the right skill set, you can get a job quite easily compared to the USA. The highest paying jobs in Australia for students, requiring no experience include food delivery driver, waiter, barista, kitchen hand, cleaner, labourer, sales rep, retail store assistant, and babysitter. The minimum wage for these jobs is almost 20.33 AUD per hour which amounts roughly to 15.02 USD. As for the USA, the common jobs for students are campus ambassador, barista, teaching assistant, library assistant, receptionist, department assistant, research study assistant, college staff assistant, food runner, catering assistant, sales assistant, gas station assistant, retail sales assistant and tutor. The minimum wage in the US is around 7.25 USD per hour.

Post-study benefits

In Australia, once you’re done with your studies, you can easily apply for a 2-4-year work visa which should generally be accepted depending on which city you’re applying to and what your credentials are. If you have a diploma, bachelor’s or master’s from a big city, you’ll probably be able to get a 2-year work visa quite easily. If you’ve studied in a regional area, you might be able to get an additional year, and with a PhD degree, you’ll be eligible for a 4-year work permit. As for the US, things are a little more complicated. You can work 20 hours per week while enrolled in an educational institute in the USA. However, once you graduate, you will need to apply for an OPT extension which is valid for up to 24 months. Still, if you enrol in another program, you’ll be granted a work permit again. So, Australia beats the USA in this regard.

Ease of getting permanent residency

Australia has a point-based system, wherein you are scored on different points and are only eligible for a PR visa if you attain a minimum of 65 points. Points are given on the following basis:

  • your age
  • your qualification
  • whether or not you studied in Australia
  • whether or not you hold a specialist education qualification
  • whether you’ve completed a professional year
  • whether you have relevant work experience
  • whether you’re fluent in English
  • whether you hold a qualification in the credentialled community language
  • whether you’ve studied in the regional area
  • your partner skills
  • if an Australian state invites you

The US, on the other hand, is among the top 5 countries where it is the hardest to get PR, and you can expect your application for a green card to take anywhere from 6 to 33 months. And of course, there’s no guarantee if your application will even be approved. So, Australia certainly seems a lot more just compared to the US system.

House prices

Another thing to consider in the USA vs Australia debate is house prices because obviously if you’re looking to settle in, you will need a place to stay as well. So, in Australia the average house prices for the main cities are:

  • Sydney- 1.5 M AUD
  • Melbourne- 1.04 M AUD
  • Canberra- 1.07 M AUD
  • Brisbane- 785,000 AUD
  • Hobart- 747,187 AUD
  • Perth- 520,000 AUD
  • Adelaide- 650,000 AUD

So, if you’re looking to buy a house in, say, Sydney, you should be earning at least $120,000 a year (before tax) in addition to paying the up-front deposit of 20% if you want to avoid mortgage stress. This is the equivalent of an MP or paediatrician’s salary. However, if you’re a couple and both earning, it might be relatively easier for you to purchase a house.

For the US, the typical house prices for the major cities are:

  • Boston- $800,000
  • Chicago- $350,000
  • Texas- $250,000
  • Philadelphia- $300,000
  • Los Angeles- $780,000

And if you want to buy a house in the USA, you will have to pay $1,200 a month for the mortgage plus the 20% down payment. Hence, you should be earning around $4,285 each month in order to afford a house. Therefore, the USA beats Australia by a long haul in this regard.


The USA and Australia are the top choices for international students, and while they both have their own benefits, Australia seems to be the better option. Not only is it much safer and more affordable but it also has some of the best ranking universities. Plus, you can easily obtain a student visa and later, PR and a work permit to settle in Australia if you’d like.

If you are planning to come to Australia, you have come to the right page. We will keep you informed with our up-to-date information, news and blogs.

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