IT in Australia - Outstanding Opportunities
Why study IT in Australia? Because Australia's IT programs are high quality, and widely recognised throughout the world. Moreover, the cost of studying and living in Australia is low, and the security, cleanliness and quality of lifestyle makes it an outstanding study option.
Australia is one of the world's leading providers of training and education. An analysis of the higher education sector conducted by the Australian International Education Foundation shows that in terms of overseas student numbers, Australia - with 64,188 students - is ranked third in the English-speaking world, behind the USA and the UK.
Australians have had an involvement with IT from its infancy. For example, Dr Trevor Pearcey, a foundation Dean of the Chisholm Institute at Monash University, was credited with the development of one of the earliest computing machines. Australians are amongst the world's most rapid appliers of information technology and are leaders in software and system development. Australian universities also have an excellent reputation for the quality of their educational programs, attracting large numbers of students from countries in the Asia Pacific region. It is notable that in Singapore, with a labour force that is one of the most highly educated, productive and articulate in the world, Australia is the number one provider of education, ahead of both the USA and UK, as well as an important provider of education for overseas students from other developed economies in the region - in Hong Kong and Japan, it is the number two and three provider of education respectively. Most overseas students in Australia are studying vocational courses, with the top two areas being:
- Business, Administration and Economics
- Science (with the overwhelming majority studying Computer Science)
Perhaps the best indication of a university's international standing is the demand for its places amongst overseas students, particularly full-fee paying students open to a wide choice of study options. Australian universities are highly regarded, and their qualifications are valued - competition for places is tough, and academic standards are high. There appears to be a tendency for overseas students to pursue courses at better-known and larger universities. For example, while overseas students are found in most Australian universities that conduct IT programs, the four largest institutions educate almost 54% of overseas IT students in Australia. What's more, in the largest five institutions, overseas IT students comprised approximately 25% of total undergraduate IT students in 1997, compared with an average of 15% for all institutions. This reflects overseas students' preferences for IT degrees from large and well-known institutions with prestigious reputations.
Diversity of Course Offerings One strong aspect of Australian IT institutions is the diversity of programs available. These vary from specialised courses targeted at fast-growing areas of IT, such as Networking Computing, Multimedia and Electronic Commerce, to more general degrees which allow graduates to pursue a wide range of careers in computing, and to target a broad range of opportunities. In addition to undergraduate degrees, most Australian universities offer a range of programs that allow students who have completed their studies in other areas to undertake IT studies at graduate level. Many of these programs do not require students to have completed previous studies in computing.
The Cost and Value With a level of quality in the provision of education equal to universities in the USA, UK and other European economies, Australian institutions offer outstanding value. Not only has the cost of tuition been historically low in comparison to courses in the Northern Hemisphere, but right now the costs have been further deflated by the drop of the Australian dollar. Likewise, living costs in Australia are low compared to those in Europe.
Studying in Australia has other advantages:
- Even in the final year of a course, the fees will be fixed to the level of the student's enrolment
- Australian rental and transport costs are extremely low compared to those in Europe and the States
- Australia has an excellent healthcare system. An international student has only to pay a yearly Medibank fee of $275 to access it.
Security and Quality of Life There are few large cities in the world that can match the cleanliness and environmental quality of Australian cities. Melbourne was voted the most liveable city in the world in 1997, with Sydney close behind at number three. Australians enjoy and seek cultural diversity. Not only will you find them to be warm and friendly, you'll also find that they are fascinated by you and your background. Few people realise that over 40% of Australians were born overseas, or are only second-generation Australians.
So Which Courses Should You Select? Look for the prestige of the institution. Is it large and well known? What standing does IT have within the university - does it have its own faculty, or fall within another, such as science or engineering? Look at the diversity of the courses offered. Does the university offer little more than traditional computer science courses, or does it offer a wider variety of programs? You will need to have regard to your career aspirations in deciding which course is best for you. Are you interested in specific areas, such as multimedia applications or information systems - or do you wish to pursue a generalist computing program that will allow you to target a range of IT career opportunities? Also consider the subject areas available - for example, the universities that offer the largest range of course programs will generally offer the greatest choice in terms of programming languages and specialisations.
Examine the courses offered to see whether they offer the chance to study languages that you want to specialise in, or the latest languages, such as JAVA. Look at the university's commitment to overseas students. Most Australian universities have a range of support systems to cater for international students, and can help you with such matters as accommodation, VISA requirements and day-to-day living problems. Generally, all Australian institutions offer very high quality and credible programs. That, however, doesn't mean that they will all suit you - the final choice must be yours!