Australian University

University of Sydney: Everything you need to know

Explore the University of Sydney to study in Australia, including its admissions, courses, campus life, and more. Get the latest information for right decision.

Published on: May 15, 2024



Australia is for sure the best destination for international students, offering the best environment for them to seek research and innovation opportunities in the universities. The universities in Australia are indeed promising institutions, cultivating young and innovative minds, accurate for the global market. There are plenty of institutions but amongst them, the University of Sydney shows up to stand out as a beacon of excellence and tradition to study in Australia. But without a proper investigation taking up the crucial step can be troublesome at times. Therefore, you can delve into this blog to understand the operating system of the University of Sydney, its history, its contributions both nationally and globally, and why it is considered by so many students as their primary destination to study. Whether you’re a prospective student, a researcher, or someone interested in learning more about the esteemed establishment, you must continue with your journey by moving ahead in the blog. 



Short Introduction to the University of Sydney


As the name suggests the university is an establishment in Sydney, New South Wales and is one of the oldest universities in the city. It was founded in the year 1850 and is renowned for being a public research university. It remains in the count of the universities that brought the idea of academic merit admission and is reputed for offering academic services for both men and women in society. 


Moreover, the university offers programs in a diverse range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research levels, including arts, sciences, engineering, business, and medicine. The university's historic sandstone buildings and state-of-the-art facilities provide an inspiring environment for more than 70,000 students and 8,000 staff from around the globe.



Importance and Relevance of the University in Australia and Globally


The University of Sydney holds a prominent position both nationally and internationally and is ranked top amongst the other prestigious universities.  Not just the structure but attributes such as its high academic standards, innovative research, and a strong emphasis on producing well-rounded graduates make it a prominent choice among aspiring students. 


According to global ranking partner THE (Times Higher Education) University Ranking, The University ranks at 54th position in Best Global Universities. Then, it ranks at 19th position by the QS World University ranking parameters.  


In Australia, it plays a crucial role in shaping the educational landscape, contributing significantly to the nation's research output and producing leaders in various industries. Globally, the university's robust international partnerships, extensive alumni network, and commitment to addressing global challenges through research and education underscore its importance. Its graduates are highly sought after, and known for their critical thinking, adaptability, and professional readiness.



History of the University at a glance



1850–1950: The University of Sydney's Early Years


In 1848, William Wentworth and Sir Charles Nicholson proposed expanding Sydney College into a university. They had the vision to provide a secular institution open to all, regardless of class or religion. After two critical attempts, the University of Sydney was established by the University of Sydney Act 1850 and inaugurated in 1852.


The university was Australia’s first, and one of the earliest public, non-denominational universities in the British Empire. It received a royal charter in 1858, giving its degrees recognition equal to those in the UK. In the year 1881, it became the first university to admit women, with the first female graduates receiving their BA degrees in the year 1885. 


Later there were a few significant contributions including a bequest from John Henry Challis, leading to the creation of several professorships in 1890. The university awarded its first Doctor of Science in Engineering degree to John Bradfield in 1924, who later designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And, Professor John Anderson, a prominent and controversial figure, taught philosophy from 1927 to 1958, advocating free thought and atheism.



1950–2000: Growth and Transformation


This was the era when the university began offering PhD degrees in 1947, awarding the first in 1951. The New England University College was founded in 1938, as a part of the University of Sydney and separated later to become the University of New England in 1954.


In the late 1960s, the university was a hotspot for debates on Marxism and feminism as a course in the University, leading to departmental splits in philosophy and protests by students and labour unions. The Traditional and Modern Philosophy Department, led by David Armstrong, took a conservative approach, while the General Philosophy Department embraced French continental philosophy.


The Higher Education (Amalgamation) Act 1989 led to the incorporation of several institutions into the university in 1990, including the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Cumberland College of Health Sciences. The Orange Agricultural College joined in 1994 but was transferred to Charles Sturt University in 2005.



2000s: Turbulence and Progress


In 2001, Dame Leonie Kramer resigned as chancellor due to pressure from the university's governing body. In 2003, Nick Greiner, former Premier of New South Wales, stepped down as chair of the Graduate School of Management amidst protests over his ties to British American Tobacco. His wife, Kathryn Greiner, also resigned from university roles in solidarity.


The two major bodies (the Public Service Association of New South Wales and The Community and Public Sector Union) in 2005, came into disputes after the proposal to privatize security at the main campus. In 2007, it acquired land from St John's College to establish the Sydney Institute of Health and Medical Research, now the Charles Perkins Centre, named after the first Indigenous Australian graduate, Charles Perkins.



2010s: Changes and Challenges


In 2010, the University of Sydney adopted a controversial new logo, modernizing its appearance. That year, it received a Picasso painting donated for medical research, sold for £13.5 million.


Efforts to improve financial sustainability led to controversy under Vice Chancellor Michael Spence. Budget cuts in 2012 sparked protests over job redundancies and management decisions.


Internal dissatisfaction grew, with a staff survey showing concerns over management and innovation. Divisions emerged over admissions policies, including a "pathway of privilege" for elite school students.


Concerns over funding and cheating surfaced in 2014 and 2015, prompting reforms. By 2016, the university aimed to streamline its degree programs.

In the 2019 Student Experience Survey, the university faced low satisfaction ratings, highlighting ongoing challenges in student experience and management.



2020s: Challenges and Activism


In 2021, the University recorded the lowest response to sexual assault and harassment rates in the campuses, by the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS). In 2022, the National Tertiary Education Union went on strike demanding job security and better conditions. Pro-Palestinian activists occupied part of the campus in 2024, protesting the Israel–Hamas war. The protest was described as the “Free Palestine syndrome” by Indian media outlet Firstpost. 



Academic courses in Australia for international students


The programs offered at the University of Sydney are abundant in number, you can apply either for undergraduate, postgraduate or research degrees here. It offers courses in the count of approx. 450 and for around 10 areas of study for international students. The academic curriculum is divided into eight facilities and schools Some of the popular courses offline and online university courses in Sydney are Architecture and Design, Arts and Social Sciences, Business, Education and Social Work, Engineering and Computer Science, and Law and Medicine. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Engineering, Medicine and Health, Science, Sydney Business School, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Law School, and School of Architecture, Design and Planning.


The University’s disciplines span:

  • Architecture, Urbanism and Interaction Design

  • Arts and Social Sciences

  • Business

  • Education and Social Work

  • Engineering and Information Technologies

  • Health, Medicine and Dentistry

  • Law

  • Music

  • Science, Agriculture, Environment and Veterinary Science.



University campuses



Main Campus: Camperdown/Darlington campus


It is located in Camperdown/Darlington, giving the best picturesque view of the campus. Spanning over 74 hectares, the campus is a harmonious blend of historic sandstone buildings and modern facilities, providing an inspiring backdrop for academic pursuits and cultural exploration. The Camperdown/Darlington campus houses the university's administrative headquarters, and the Faculties of Arts, Science, Education and Social Work, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Economics and Business, Architecture, and Engineering. It is also the home base of the large Sydney Medical School, which has numerous affiliated teaching hospitals across the state.


Overview of Other Campuses and Research Facilities


In addition to the main campus, there are other satellite campuses and research facilities across Sydney and beyond.


These include: 


  • Camden Campus, home to the renowned Faculty of Veterinary Science

  • Cumberland Campus, dedicated to health sciences and sports science research. 

  • The Sydney Conservatorium of Music: Formerly the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM) is located in the Sydney CBD on the edge of Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden. 


The other facilities for teaching activities:

  • Sydney Medical School 

  • Sydney Pharmacy School 

  • One Tree Island

  • IA Watson Grains Research Centre

  • Maningrida



Campus facilities


The campus facilities are essential for the students, especially for the ones who come from other countries. These usually include on-campus accommodation, libraries, museums, faculty support, etc. 


Libraries: 11 libraries exist at the various campuses of the university. The Fisher and Health Sciences library is recognised to offer disability support services. It is considered to be the largest academic library in the Southern Hemisphere. It has a collection of 5 million physical volumes and a further 3,00,00 e-books. The Rare Books Library is a part of the Fisher Library and holds 185,000 books and manuscripts which are rare, valuable or fragile, including 80 medieval manuscripts, works by Galileo, Halley and Copernicus as well as an extensive collection of Australiana. 


Laboratories: The Sydney Nanoscience Hub houses six research labs: the Eggleton Laboratory, the Quantum Nanoscience Laboratory, the Quantum Control Laboratory, the Integrated Microwave Photonic Laboratory, and the Thin-film Optoelectronics and Photovoltaics (TOP) Materials and Devices Laboratory.


Museums and galleries: The Chau Chak Wing Museum is a university consisting of art, natural history and antique collections. It is located opposite to the quadrangle buildings, inaugurated in November 2020. It houses the Nicholson Collection of antiquities, the Macleay Collections of natural history, ethnography, science and photography, and the University Art Collection.


Halls of residence and residential colleges: The University accommodation services run the halls of Residence, since 2013. These are developed to provide affordable housing to enhance the educational experience of living on campus and offer students a rich academic environment. 

  • The Queen Mary Building

  • Abercrombie Student Accommodation

  • Regiment Hall



Sports facilities


Gym: The Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre (SUSAC) Gym Extension is close to complete with a large chunk of the new training space already open to members.  


Sports: The University of Sydney has 40+ sports clubs and organises world-class sporting events. Students with a keen interest in sports can work on their performance under the guidance of some of Australia's most accomplished coaches and sportspeople. The University also offers sporting scholarships and an Elite Athlete Program. Some of the prominent sports that are available at the University include Archery, Football, Cricket, Swimming, Boxing, Table Tennis, Badminton and Taekwondo. 



Scholarships offered by the University


There are scholarships available to students, based in Australia and to international students reducing the costs and making their academic expenses a bit affordable. The Scholarships in Australia are general and faculty-based. International students can avail of faculty scholarships through their respective degree courses. Some of the top scholarships offered at the university are given as follows:



Scholarship Name Application Deadline Eligibility Granted As
Sydney International Student Award Deadline: Jun 25, 2024 Copy of academic transcripts

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Copy of Passport

Personal Statement
Scholarship amount can be used for tuition and fees
Vice-Chancellor International Scholarships Scheme- Master of Data Science Round 1: Mar 1, 2024
Round 2: Apr 15, 2024
Round 3: June 17, 2024
Proof of English Language Proficiency

Copy of academic transcripts


Copy of Passport ID

Work experience
Scholarship amount can be used for tuition and fees
Vice-Chancellor International Scholarships Scheme- Tier 2 (Master of Data Science) Round 1: Mar 1, 2024
Round 2: Apr 15, 2024
Round 3: June 17, 2024
Proof of English Language Proficiency

Copy of academic transcripts

Degree Certificates

Scholarship documentation
Scholarship amount can be used for tuition and fees
Vice-Chancellor International Scholarships Scheme- Tier 3 (Master of Information Technology) Round 1: Mar 1, 2024
Round 2: Apr 15, 2024
Round 3: June 17, 2024
Proof of English Language Proficiency

Copy of academic transcripts

Degree Certificates

Scholarship documentation

Marriage/Change of Name Certificate
Scholarship amount can be used for tuition and fees
Vice-Chancellor International Scholarships Scheme - Master of Publishing Round 1: Mar 1, 2024
Round 2: Apr 15, 2024
Round 3: June 17, 2024
Proof of English Language Proficiency

Copy of academic transcripts

Degree Certificates

Work Experience
Scholarship amount can be used for tuition and fees



Student organisations: To keep students interacting with other students and help them build networks beyond their classroom, these unions are established. The SRC and the union are run by the student representatives. These are elected based on an election system. 


Student Representatives: Politically and academically, undergraduate students are represented by the University of Sydney Students' Representative Council (SRC) and postgraduate students by the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA).


University of Sydney Union: The University of Sydney Union (USU) is the oldest and largest university union in Australia. They present a range of activities, programs, services and facilities geared at giving students the university experience. This involves delivering clubs and societies programs, a varied entertainment program, student opportunities, a range of catering and retail services plus buildings and recreational spaces for students, staff and visitors.



Eligibility criteria of the university


Academic Requirements for Undergraduate Programs: 


  • Australian Students: They should have completed the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or equivalent with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) that meets or exceeds the course-specific cut-off.

  • International Students: They must have completed their secondary education from a recognised institution, equivalent to the Australian Year 12. Examples include the International Baccalaureate (IB), GCE A Levels, or other country-specific qualifications with comparable results.


English Language Proficiency: This is a must if you are an international student. Being a non-native you are required to demonstrate your proficiency in the English language. Tests that are used to evaluate are as follows IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE Academic. 

Admission requirement for Postgraduate Programs: The students are required to meet the course-specific and general eligibility to take admission. 


  • Academic Qualifications: A recognized bachelor's degree or equivalent in a relevant field of study with a satisfactory Grade Point Average (GPA). Specific GPA requirements vary by course.

  • English Language Proficiency: Similar to undergraduate requirements, non-native English speakers need to provide proof of proficiency through IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE Academic scores.

Research Programs:


  • Academic Qualifications: A bachelor's degree with honours or a master's degree with a significant research component in a relevant field.

  • Research Proposal: Submission of a well-defined research proposal that aligns with the university's research strengths and interests.

  • Supervisor Agreement: Identification and agreement from a qualified faculty member to supervise the research project.




Ultimately, the decision-making process can be daunting for many Australian universities. Amongst them, the University of Sydney stands to be one of the popular choices for both domestic and international students for its research, innovation, facilities, and whatnot. The diverse range of programs, extensive support services, and vibrant student life make the University of Sydney an exceptional choice for those seeking a transformative and enriching educational experience. Before making any decision you can either take a virtual view of the campus or physically visit it to study in Australia. Take the next step towards realising your aspirations and become part of the vibrant USYD community, where innovation meets inspiration and possibilities are endless.


If you need any guidance or assistance during your decision-making, you can reach out to oz assignments and mark your path towards beginning your academic journey.

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