Australian National University Or University Of Melbourne?

Australian National University Or University Of Melbourne? If you’re planning to study in Australia, two top universities stand out as potential study destinations. They are, of course, the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Melbourne, the two highest-ranking universities in the country.

Ranked joint 27th and 37th in the QS World University Rankings® 2022 respectively, ANU and the University of Melbourne are both are among the world’s very best universities. This means you’re likely to have a fantastic university experience no matter which one you pick.

That said, there are some key differences between the two that might make the choice easier. Here’s what you need to know:

Australian National University (ANU) 

University of Melbourne 

QS World University Rankings® 2022

  • Ranked joint 27th in the world; first in Australia
  • Rated 34th in the world by academics and 75th by employers
  • 354th for faculty/student ratio
  • 38th for citations per faculty member (research impact)
  • 39th for international faculty ratio
  • 49th for international student ratio
  • Ranked 37th in the world; second in Australia
  • Rated 17th in the world by academics and 24th by employers
  • Ranked 601+ for faculty/student ratio
  • 58th for citations per faculty
  • 121st for international faculty ratio
  • 28th for international student ratio

Subject strengths*

  • 21st in the world for arts & humanities
  • Joint 133rd for life sciences & medicine
  • Joint 37th for natural sciences
  • Joint 79th for engineering & technology
  • Joint 34th for social sciences & management
  • 18th in the world for arts & humanities
  • 25th for life sciences & medicine
  • Joint 53rd for natural sciences
  • 47th for engineering & technology
  • 24th for social sciences & management


  • Canberra, Australia’s governmental capital
  • Smaller and calmer
  • Inland, surrounded by mountains, hills, and bush
  • Melbourne, often referred to as Australia’s cultural capital
  • Larger and busier
  • On the south coast of Australia, on Port Philip Bay

Student community

21,352 students in 2021; 9,719 postgraduates 

25 percent international students

54,000 students in 2021;

26,460 postgraduates

44 percent are international students

Fees and funding

Annual undergraduate fees for domestic students range from A$3950 to A$14,500 (~£2,140 to £7,840)


Annual international undergraduate fees range between $36,480-$48,480 (~£19,730-£26,200) depending on the chosen course


Annual undergraduate fees for domestic students range from A$6,684 to $11,155 (~£3,610-£6,028)

Annual international undergraduate fees range from $30,112 to $95,648 (~£16,290 to £51,740)

Annual international graduate student fees range from A$41,472 to A$42,784 (~£22,430-£23,140)

*Based on the broad subject areas of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

QS World University Rankings® 2022

Both ANU and the University of Melbourne place firmly in the top 100, ranking joint 27th and 37th in the world. It’s unsurprising then that both schools enjoy an excellent reputation among academics and employers.

In this year’s world rankings, both schools score extremely well in QS’s global academic reputation survey, with the University of Melbourne ranking ahead of ANU, at joint 34th in the world, compared to ANU’s 17th place. Melbourne also comes out ahead for employer reputation, ranking 24th in the world, while ANU is further behind in 75th place.

ANU does come out of top in student/faculty ratio, for which it’s ranked 354th, while the University of Melbourne is ranked 601+. This indicator aims to give an idea of the level of support students can expect, given the number of full-time faculty members employed per student.

ANU also scores better than University of Melbourne for the number of research citations per faculty member, a metric which aims to assess research impact. It’s ranked 38th on this measure, while Melbourne places in 58th.

For international diversity, both are strong performers. This is perhaps unsurprising, given Australia’s long history of welcoming students and academics from overseas. Both schools are within the global top 50 for their percentage of international students, with Melbourne in 28th and ANU in 49th. For the percentage of international faculty members, ANU is even stronger – ranked 39th in the world to Melbourne’s 121st.

Subject strengths

The latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject shows Melbourne rank three places above ANU in the broad subject area of arts and humanities.

Melbourne beats ANU in life sciences and medicine; engineering and technology; and social sciences and management. However, ANU comes out ahead for natural sciences, ranking 16 places above Melbourne.

You can view a direct comparison of how both universities compare for specific disciplines in the table below.

Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Melbourne in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 




Accounting & finance 42nd 18th
Agriculture & forestry 39th =55th
Anatomy & physiology =47th 15th
Anthropology 5th 19th
Architecture =23rd
Art & design 101-150 51-100
Biological sciences =59th 43rd
Business & management =63rd 26th
Chemistry =106th 47th
Communication & media studies 43rd
Computer science & information systems 51st 39th
Dentistry 37th
Development studies 15th 21st
Earth & marine sciences 23rd 45th
Economics =33rd
Education & training 101-150
Engineering (chemical) 49th
Engineering (civil) 28th
Engineering (electrical) 63rd =46th
Engineering (mechanical) =134th 60th
Engineering (mining) 18th
English language & literature 43rd 20th
Environmental sciences 34th 25th
Geography 7th 16th
Geology =24th 47th
Geophysics =22nd =45th
History 17th 38th
Law =17th
Linguistics 22nd 25th
Materials science 101-150 85th
Mathematics 50th 51st
Medicine =92nd 18th
Modern languages 39th =27th
Nursing 33rd
Performing arts 51-100 19th
Pharmacy =57th
Philosophy 5th 101-150
Physics & astronomy 40th =66th
Politics 9th
Psychology 38th =20th
Social policy & administration =12th
Sociology =13th
Statistics 51-100
Theology, divinity & religious studies 46th
Veterinary science 18th
See the full QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021


While there may be little difference between the two top universities in Australia in terms of the high quality of education they provide, there’s a lot to distinguish them when it comes to location.

Often referred to as the nation’s cultural capital, Melbourne is an arty city featuring impressive architecture, world-leading museums and an on-the-pulse theatre and comedy scene. The city also offers a myriad of ultra-cool restaurants, clubs, and shopping districts, as well as a healthy love of sports.

Coming third in the QS Best Student Cities 2019, Melbourne is a popular study destination due to its large and diverse student community, excellent quality of living and high concentration of world-class universities. Besides the University of Melbourne, the city is home to six more Australian universities which feature in the QS World University Rankings.

Canberra is home to ANU and is Australia’s capital city. It’s far smaller than Melbourne, both overall and in terms of its student population, which helps to make this city a somewhat calmer place to live. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal preferences.

However, as Australia’s political hub, Canberra is anything but boring. During parliamentary sittings, the city is alive with national politics.

Canberra boasts a beautiful natural landscape. Surrounded by mountains, hills, and bush-land, as much as half of Canberra itself is protected as natural park and reserve land – so if you’re used to living in the countryside, Canberra may be the place you’d feel most at home.

Aside from ANU, Canberra is also home to the University of Canberra, which is ranked joint 436th in the QS World University Rankings. The city itself is ranked 23rd in the QS Best Student Cities 2019, achieving its highest score for the Student Mix category.

Student community

The University of Melbourne is over double the size of ANU in terms of student community, with 54,000 students – of which 44 percent are international students. This is reflected in the university’s high score in the international student ratio category of the rankings.

ANU has 21,352 students in 2021 and almost half of these (26,460) are made up of postgraduate students. Of ANU’s students, approximately 25 percent are international students.

Tuition fees and living costs

The Australian government pays a portion of the tuition fees for Commonwealth supported students. This means that for domestic students, tuition fees are significantly cheaper than for international students. The remaining amount is called the student contribution and is dependent on students’ chosen subject.

Arts and humanities subjects (band 1) are typically the cheaper programs, while medical-related subjects, business, and law programs (band 3) tend to be the most expensive.

International student fees are towards the upper end of the spectrum, with annual tuition costs of around A$41,472 to A$42,784 (~£22,432-£23,141) at both schools. Medicine is the most expensive subject for international students, with annual tuition fees of A$65,056 (~£35,192) for clinical medicine at the University of Melbourne.

Scholarships and funding

With such high tuition fees, prospective students will be pleased to learn that both the University of Melbourne and Australian National University offer scholarships for international students. Both schools offer online search tools to help students identify which scholarships they’re eligible for.

There are also several government scholarships available to study in Australia, including the Australia Awards, aimed at students at all study levels from developing countries, and the Destination Australia scholarship.

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