The best university city in the world

It’s hard not to be in awe of a city that was founded by Batman.

John Batman, that is, who, in 1835, established the settlement upon the Yarra River that would become Melbourne.

The discovery of gold triggered the Victoria Gold Rush in 1851, and Melbourne grew into a thriving city. By the 1880s, at the peak of the gold rush, Melbourne had become the richest city in the world, exceeded in size only by London.

Melbourne drew people from all over the world with the promise of riches, and it remains an ethnically diverse and multicultural community, with statistics from 2006 indicating that 35.8% of its population was born overseas. According to Wikipedia, this exceeds the national average of 23.1%.

It still draws people from all over the world, but now its riches no longer come in the form of minerals.

City of gardens and culture

Melbourne is now Australia’s second most populated city, and regularly ranks high on lists of the world’s most livable cities, earning 1st place from the Economist in both 2011 and 2012.

It’s often referred to as the” Garden City”, and you don’t get a much more self-explanatory nickname, or one that conjures imagery more clearly. Numerous parks and tree-lined avenues, together with the river on which the city is built, provide it with an abundance of natural scenery and “green infrastructure”.

There’s scenery both within the city and without, with some world-renowned beaches being just a short distance from the city center, allowing Melbourne to provide the recreational benefits of both the river and the seaside. The Great Ocean Road is one of the top ten coastal drives in the world, passing by such famous sights as the Twelve Apostles, which are impressive rock structures formed by erosion that stand off the shores of Port Campbell National Park.

Not many other locations can offer a river, ocean, mountains, forests and even ski-lodges all at once, but Melbourne does. There are hiking trails in the rainforests of the Dandenong ranges, and ski resorts in the Victoria peaks. People who prefer the dry to the wet can venture north and experience what the Outback has to offer.

Melbourne has also been referred to as the “cultural capital of Australia”, as its home to the nation’s oldest and largest art museum in the National Gallery of Victoria, and is also the birthplace of Australian Film and Television, as well as the point of origin for unique cultural exports such as Australian Rules football. It was the second city after Edinburgh to be declared a UNESCO city of literature.

High livability and high cost of living

Melbourne has much to offer on the education front. According to The Age, it has been included in RMIT’s top ten Global University cities index since 2006 and was nominated the world’s fourth best university city in 2008.

Melbourne, like Sydney, has high expenses to go with its high quality of living. It’s been ranked as the world’s eighth most expensive city on the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey and is deemed almost 50% costlier then New York.

So, while it may be one of the world’s top student cities, it makes getting by on a student budget something of a challenge. Those hoping to study in Melbourne will need to take into account the high cost of living. Fortunately, students have the option of affordable university accommodation, which also allows them to take advantage of Melbourne’s ethnic diversity and interact with fellow students from around the world.

There’s also the convenience of Melbourne’s public transport system, which simplifies as one ticket provides passage on all major modes of public transport, namely the bus, tram and train. Melbourne, like the majority of Australian cities, may be built primarily for automobile use, but its public transport system is one of the most efficient in the nation, and boasts the world’s largest tram network.

With Victoria’s educational institutions hosting an estimated 160,000 international students from 165 countries, many clearly feel that what the city has to offer is worth the price.


writes for Now Learning, which promotes TAFE courses in Victoria (VIC) Australia, as well as higher education opportunities in other major cities in the country.

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