Choosing a study destination

Studying interstate or in a regional area is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and add to your overall student experience.

In this section we explore:

Why choose a different study destination?

It's easy to forget that each state and territory has its own high-quality and prestigious institutions, which will be just as well suited to your needs as those you've considered closer to home.

Here we've listed some common reasons for choosing a different study destination:

  • If you want to study a highly specialised course, you may find that it is only offered at a few institutions (or even in just one state).
  • Perhaps an institution in a different study destination is well known for its research contributions in your field, has better course perks (such as integrating a work placement or student exchange), has a prestigious graduate program or offers a better course structure, with electives or specialisations better suited to your liking.
  • You may find that some study destinations specialise in your course area (such as Tasmania for Antarctic science) or that the job opportunities upon graduation are far greater in certain parts of the country (Western Australia for mining engineering, for example).
  • You will find that entry requirements for different courses differ around the country, so a different study destination may have more manageable entry requirements if you're looking to enter a competitive course.
  • Tuition fees and living costs may be more affordable in some areas. Costs that are ordinarily very difficult to manage on a student income can become much easier to bear depending on where you live, so if you're on a budget it's worth considering relocating to study.
  • Perhaps you think you would benefit from a change of scenery or have always wanted to try living in a different part of the country — for Tasmanians and Victorians, for example, the sun and surf of the northern states is appealing.

Where do students go?

The Northern Territory is the most popular destination, with around 54 per cent of students originating from elsewhere in the country (Department of Industry, 2011) The Australian Capital Territory comes in second, with interstate students making up around 36 per cent of the student body — most of them from New South Wales.

No matter which state you choose, you'll have little trouble finding fellow expatriates from your home state, let alone making new friends with locals. And if you're making the move within your own state from the country to the city, or the city to the country, don't despair — you're bound to see more than a few familiar faces.

Studying in a regional location

While many students can't wait to hit the bright lights of a big city campus, don't forget that regional campuses also have much to offer. Life is a bit more relaxed and, with fewer students, there is often a more personal touch than at the big city campuses. A regional campus is also a good option for students who would like a change of scenery but are deterred by the costs and hassles associated with moving interstate.

Regional universities are also known to be successful in niche study areas, such as viticulture or tropical ecology, and also at linking courses and research to the local environment or industry.

Although regional living can mean facing some obstacles, such as not having the same services and facilities offered by big cities, these are felt less (if at all) on a well-resourced campus. You will also find that the cost of living is significantly lower in many regional cities than in the capital.

What holds students back?

Distance is probably what deters most school leavers from applying interstate, with the expense and time that it takes to travel back to see family and friends much greater here than in some countries overseas. At the more practical level, it's normal to be deterred by the prospect of uprooting and leaving your family home. It's equally hard to deal with leaving your friends, especially knowing that many will attend the same institution back home while you may be on your own. And although leaving a regional area for the city is much more common, some students are held back by their financial circumstances or simply the desire to stay home a little longer without having to live independently just yet. Likewise, metropolitan students can find it difficult to leave the bright lights of the city for a quieter life — no matter what the benefits may be.

If you're not quite sure if studying interstate or in a different part of your own state is the right choice for you, it's a good idea to have a chat to someone who can help. Student advisers at the institution you are considering are your best bet, but it can also help to arrange a meeting with a career adviser to discuss some of your concerns and get any questions answered.

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