Key Info

  • Average temp during the day: 21C
  • Average rainy days per year: 68
  • Capital of Australia and the home of government
  • Highest average income and highest employment rates in Australia
  • Lower cost of living than many other Australian cities
  • Five universities and one major TAFE
  • 19,000 international students


Australia’s smallest territory still offers a remarkable variety of cultural and natural diversity. The nation’s capital, Canberra, accounts for roughly 96% of the ACT’s 431,000 residents. Many of those are students thanks to Canberra’s five QS-ranked universities, including the Australian National University. Canberra itself is described in detail below. The natural beauty surrounding the ACT’s only city is also a major attraction for international students, giving the territory an affectionate nickname: “The Bush Capital.”

More than half of the ACT is composed of conservation areas. Namadgi National Park dominates the territory’s south, where it borders Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. “Namadgi” is a local name for the mountains that run through the park, and 1,900-metre Bimberi Peak crowns the territory’s section of the Brindabella Ranges. Tidbinbilla is home both to the ACT’s oldest known human habitation and to the NASA’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.

Closer to Canberra, rolling farmland and some of Australia’s best vineyards are served by an extensive network of cycling trails. The safety and relaxed pace of Canberra itself, along with the remarkably varied opportunities to leave the city behind, have made the ACT one of the healthiest urban centres in the world.


Canberra is a major world capital, but with a population just shy of Edinburgh’s, it is more relaxed, welcoming, and quiet than its reputation might have you believe. For students who want the advantages of living in a major city without the hassle and undue expense, Canberra can strike just the right note.

It’s possible to be homesick in Canberra, but difficult to stay that way. More than 20,000 international students from more than 100 countries live and study in the capital. Australian National University is the most prominent of the five universities that call Canberra home. Along with the natural beauty of its surrounding countryside, Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin offers a chance to get away from the grind, right in the centre of town. The city is easily navigable, and public transport is surprisingly inexpensive by UK standards. A robust network of public buses and light rail connects Canberra and the surrounding countryside. 

Australia’s national capital is also its most important cultural hub. National cultural institutions abound, from the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery to Parliament House and the National Museum of Australia. Just as importantly, if less world-renowned, Canberra’s large student population supports a teeming arts and music scene. 

Canberra’s standard of living is high even by Australian standards, and its per capita income is consistently the highest among Australian cities. Despite that distinction, Canberra is a surprisingly affordable city for international students who are happy to share space with a flatmate or three. Individual accommodations are a different story: while Canberra is still less expensive than Sydney, a one-room apartment in the city centre costs upwards of AUD $1,973 per month. 

This wide range of accommodation hints at another reason why Canberra is such a compelling option for international students: its bevy of employment opportunities. As the cosmopolitan capital of a G20 country, Canberra supports a vibrant and diverse economy, offering strong opportunities in industries ranging from healthcare, professional services, and education to construction and retail. International students can take advantage of Canberra’s economy with an additional year of work rights following the conclusion of their studies.