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Choosing a campus

Institution campuses differ in many ways, and no two campuses are ever the same. It is likely that you will be spending a lot of time on campus, so it’s vital that you feel comfortable there.

Female studying outside

In this section we discuss:

What to look out for on campus

If you are tossing up between multiple campuses (or even multiple campuses of the same institution), you may want to consider the following:

Where they are
Campuses can be inner city, suburban, regional or just plain rural. Each city or town has its own unique personality, so think about differences in lifestyle, cost of living, transport and people. You may prefer the sunshine in Cairns, the cheap rent in Hobart or the inner-city Sydney campus you can get to by public transport. See Study destinations for more information.

Size has a big effect on the campus atmosphere, social opportunities and facilities. The largest university campuses have over 30,000 students, while some small private providers only have a few dozen students. Some campuses are spread out over hundreds of acres, while others are confined to a single skyscraper. Ask yourself whether you would prefer to be located at a big, buzzing campus or whether you would prefer something a little smaller and more intimate.

How hard they are to get into
Generally, metropolitan campuses are more popular and are therefore harder to get into than rural campuses. It is not uncommon for larger institutions to offer the same course at multiple campuses and have different entry requirements for each. If you are worried about meeting the academic entry requirements of a particular course, it is probably best to apply to a few places, including a campus that is not as competitive. See Getting into a course for more information.

Facilities and services
Investigate the range of academic resources, student support services and leisure facilities on offer. Big campuses have the creature comforts of small towns — you can get everything from a haircut to a four-course meal, and there are plenty of social activities and student support services. Those that are in metropolitan areas provide students with access to a range of services and facilities off campus as well. At some small campuses you can't get a coffee and there may be fewer student services, but you may find that facilities and services are more tailored to your field of study. See Student services and facilities for more information.

If you’re moving away from home to study, then the availability and price of on-campus and off-campus accommodation will be a big consideration. Accommodation options differ between institutions, with some offering options to suit all tastes and budgets (including colleges, apartments, student residences and homestays) and others not offering any at all. If you’re planning to rent, check out the average rental prices near each institution. See Student accommodation for more information.

It is important that you feel safe in your environment, so it might be worth investigating the security services available (these may include night escorts, emergency telephones and shuttle services), the proximity of the campus to public transport or parking and the amount of lighting.

Who's there
Check out the balance of mature age students, school leavers, part-timers or international students, as this will contribute to the diversity of the campus.

Style and ethos
It’s hard to pin down, but no two campuses feel the same. Some seem serious and scholarly, while at others the atmosphere is bohemian, political, sports mad, religious or all about having a good time. The key is to find what suits you best.

Exploring your campus

The best way to get a feel for the campus is by planning a visit or attending an open day. You can find out about the facilities and services on offer through institution websites and brochures, but because the campus will become a home away from home, it’s important to actually see the campus for yourself so you can gain an understanding of what it’s like.

When you visit the campus, look out for the following:

Faculty buildings
It’s a good idea to get a feel for the buildings where you’ll be spending most of your time and to find out what equipment is available. This is especially important for students in fields such as design, IT, engineering and science, who will be spending a lot of time using institution labs and computer facilities.

Visit some of the major institution facilities, such as the library, student administration offices, computer labs and cafeterias so you can get a feel for the campus and where everything is located.

Check out the accommodation options available. This is a good chance to see what they actually look like and how close they are to the institution and the city.

It’s important to investigate the transport options that are available and do a trial run. If the campus is within driving distance, is there plenty of parking? Is it free or does it require a permit? If public transport is the way to go, figure out which forms are available, how frequent it is and which route to take.

Ask yourself: can I really see myself here? You want the university to have an atmosphere that will make you want to spend time there, rather than just attend your classes and head straight home. Whether you’re after masses of landscaped lawns, great sports facilities or on-campus galleries and cafés, it's important to choose a campus that suits you and will provide the experience you want.

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