Smart State

Smart State

Experience quality education in the sunny climate of tropical Queensland, writes Kylie McGregor

Three things come up time and again when speaking to students from the UK who have chosen to live and study in Queensland: the amazing climate, the beautiful beaches and the laid-back, outdoor lifestyle.

And it’s all true. Queensland offers more days of sunshine than almost anywhere else in the world, encouraging people to spend more time outside enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.

Is this why the people who live in Queensland have such a sunny and relaxed disposition? Maybe it’s the fact that Queensland is also home to the stunning Great Barrier Reef, with tropical islands galore and some of the oldest and most breathtaking rainforests on the planet.

Life here is fun and easy-going, but there is also a serious and ambitious side. Queensland is known as Australia’s ‘Smart State’ known for its innovation and boasts a fast-growing economy. It also off ers quality education and training with excellent support services to give international students the best opportunity to succeed in their studies, as Hannah Smith discovered after arriving from Yorkshire.

“Studying here has been a great experience,” Hannah says. “I have been given some fantastic opportunities and the people here seem more willing to help each other out and share knowledge and resources. “The lifestyle is relaxing and everyone is really friendly. And I love the different culture here.

“Australia is such a multicultural country. It’s a real melting pot of people and they all come together really wonderfully, and everyone is accepted for who they are. There really is something for everyone.

“The country itself also has so much to offer – and there’s a lot more to it than just the cities. The regional areas are incredibly different and diverse.”

Hannah Smith, 28, from Yorkshire, is studying at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton

“I came out to Australia as part of a volunteer program, helping students with literacy. The school I was based at offered me a job. So I decided to study to be a primary school teacher. It’s been a fantastic experience. I like the pace of life here, the great weather and the outdoor lifestyle!

“I liked the flexibility that I had in my degree programme and was able to pick and choose my subjects.”

Queensland is certainly diverse. It is the only place in the world where students have the opportunity to collect research specimens from ancient tropical rainforests, trace the tracks of dinosaurs in the outback, participate in cutting-edge medical research or dive on the Great Barrier Reef as part of their studies. The education and training programs off ered in Queensland are world-recognised and varied – just like the geography.

You can choose to study in bustling metropolitan areas, cruisy country towns, or stunning beachside locations. With such rich and diverse offerings available across the state, it may be more diffi cult to pick where in Queensland you want to study rather than what you want to study.

Here you’ll find a selection of what you can expect from the unique regions of Queensland, from the bright lights of Brisbane and the glittering Gold Coast, to the lush Tropical North and stunning Sunshine Coast, and out to the West and Central districts.

Explore and enjoy!

Brisbane’s vibrant, innovative edge

Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland and has one of the fastest growing economies in Australia. It is a city for the senses, blessed with a melting pot of cultures, cuisines and creativity. Known as Australia’s ‘New World’ city, Brisbane is a cultural hub of inspiration and invention that provides students with world-class research facilities and forward-thinking educational providers, all in a subtropical climate that promotes an outdoor lifestyle for those who live there. ‘Brissy’ as it is sometimes affectionately known, is the third largest city in Australia and offers all the benefits of a bustling metropolis, yet it is considerably more relaxed that its southern counterparts, Sydney and Melbourne.

That could be due to the wonderfully warm climate, with average temperatures ranging from a minimum of 8°C and maximum of 21°C in winter to a minimum 20°C and maximum of 30°C in summer. With these temperature, it’s no wonder that this city is so laid-back and famous for its love aff air with the great outdoors.

But don’t be fooled into mistaking easy-going with sleepy. Brisbane is a modern city with an innovative and vibrant edge. Locals are friendly and down-to-earth with a free-spirited outlook and a determination to do things just that little bit differently – and of course, to do them well!

Camilla Lee, from Scotland, is studying at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane

“UQ had the perfect combination of location, facilities and reputation, which is why I chose to study there.

“I enjoyed picking and choosing my subjects. I liked the modular assessment mode too, where grades are accumulated throughout the duration of my degree. The knowledge and skills I’ve learnt will stay with me for life.”

Brisbane is a major business hub in Australia with many national companies and numerous international organisations, headquartered here.


While many locals work hard, they also know how to play hard.

Brisbane is host to major international sporting events, particularly for football, rugby, cricket, golf and tennis, and there is plenty to entertain culture vultures too. It is home to Australia’s largest Gallery of Modern Art, and boasts the latest and greatest offerings in theatre, fashion and entertainment.

And then there’s the food – you’ll find a first-class fusion of exotic tastes from around the world here, with a strong emphasis on fresh, local produce.

The centre of the city is built around a beautiful meandering river, but you don’t need to stray far to discover that Brisbane is a diverse city made up of buzzing urban villages, each with its own personality and experiences, from Australia’s premier live music precinct, ‘The Valley’ (Fortitude Valley), to the cool and eclectic community of West End. And, although each urban village is distinctive, all are filled with cafés, restaurants, unique shops and smiling locals enjoying the Brisbane sunshine.

If you need a break from the big city lights, you can venture to an island beach or lush rainforest less than an hour from the city. There are a number of islands just off the coast, including the magical Moreton Island and stunning Stradbroke Islands, or head west and discover the region’s Scenic Rim, home to ancient waterfalls and pristine rainforests.

Mike Wilby, 44, is studying for a diploma in Brisbane

“Studying here is good. As part of my Diploma in Paramedical Science, I have a placement at the Royal Brisbane Hospital which would have to be one of the best trauma centres in the southern hemisphere, so it’s very worthwhile.

“The teachers here have a genuine interest in making sure everyone gets what they want from the program.”


Moreton Island is a short boat trip from Brisbane and one of only a handful of places in the world where you can hand-feed bottlenose dolphins in the wild. This idyllic escape is only 40 kilometres from the centre of Brisbane, hard to believe, but true. Here, you can get up close and personal with these graceful aquatic creatures in a spectacular natural setting before heading back to the bright lights of Brisbane.

Emma Collier, 25, from Birmingham is studying for a diploma at Charlton Brown College in Brisbane

“Charlton Brown provides a great working environment and during my studies I was given positive support to work on my assignments. The resource library at Charlton Brown is exceptional and helped me undertake research for my assignments.

“In the last three years, I completed my Advanced Diploma of Children’s Services, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, fell in love, got married and now have a beautiful baby boy.”

Why the Gold Coast has the most

Sometimes referred to as the ‘coast with the most’, the Gold Coast offers a glittering lifestyle with stunning beaches, sun-kissed locals, and an abundance of action-packed activities along with sophisticated restaurants, cafés and bars, and first-class shopping. Located 80 kilometres south east of Brisbane, this region extends to the New South Wales border and has a steadily growing population of 500,000 people. It is blessed with a sub-tropical climate, with warm summers and mild winters. There are many restaurants, more than 40 golf courses, and world-class sporting and educational facilities as well as an exciting events calendar of sport, music, art and fine food. In fact, the Gold Coast has a growing reputation as one of Australia’s events capitals, so you won’t have to venture far to quench your appetite for entertainment.

The Gold Coast is also a melting pot of cultures with close to a quarter of its residents born overseas. This provides a safe and accepting environment where people have an appreciation for various cultures.

Not surprisingly, this region has been identified as one of the most desirable places in the world to live, ranked highly for its political, social, economic and environmental factors.

The Gold Coast is home to some of the best beaches Australia has to offer. Here, you will find the internationally renowned surf and shopping strips of Surfers Paradise. As the name suggests, this area is a haven for surfers of all levels and abilities, and has also produced its fair share of world champion surfers.

Heading west, you can be in the hinterland region of the Gold Coast in as little as half an hour. Graced with spectacular World Heritage listed rainforest and crystal-clear rock pools, this lush green area offers a refreshing change of pace.

Andy Davis left the UK to study for an Automative Certificate III at the Gold Coast Institute of TAFE (GCIT)

“I chose to study at Gold Coast Institute of TAFE (GCIT) because of the reputable name that the Institute has established for itself in the international market.

“While I was researching my study options, I had often heard GCIT spoken of very highly. With this in mind, and the beautiful location of the Gold Coast, I knew that GCIT was the right choice for me.”


The Gold Coast is home to the largest professional lifeguard service in Australia, which is a good thing when you consider the many kilometres of long stretches of white sand and beautiful beaches here. When you are heading for the surf, just remember to swim between the flags where the lifeguards can keep an eye on you!

Out of the water, the Gold Coast also boasts the largest concentration of themed attractions in the Southern Hemisphere. Take your pick of the theme parks – Sea World, Dreamworld, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Water Park – for some serious thrills and spills.

Study in the Queensland tropics

Enjoying more than 200 days of sunshine a year, Cairns is the gateway to Tropical North Queensland, a haven of relaxed, balmy nights and friendly, easy-going locals. It also happens to be the launching pad to the greatest aquatic wonder in the world – the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is located on Queensland’s North East coast, almost 1,700 kilometres north of Brisbane. It is a colourful and modern city set amid a tropical paradise. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, making it a perfect destination to live and study. Being a tropical region, there is an average of 150 wet days a year. But we’re not talking drizzly, cold, grey days – here, the water breathes life into the magnificent rainforests for which the area is renowned.

Average annual temperatures range from a minimum of 17°C to a maximum of 33°C, so you can safely leave your heavy overcoats at home.

On those lovely, refreshing wet days, you can always take a break from the beautiful outdoors and head in to the myriad of restaurants, cafés, galleries and world class boutiques.

While it might be hard to look past the breathtaking natural attractions, it would be remiss not to notice that Cairns and the Tropical North also offer some of the world’s best international study programs.

With campuses at both Cairns and Townsville, James Cook University is ranked in the top five per cent of the world’s universities. The North also boasts outstanding vocational institutions, including Tropical North Queensland TAFE, which offers a range of programs, including business, horticulture, tourism, hospitality and information technology.

Dino Buonaguidi, 30, from London, is studying at Tropical North Queensland TAFE in Cairns

“I love living near the sea and I try to make sure I am making the most of it all. I have had friends come out and visit me here and they all think I lead a holiday lifestyle, which it is in a way I suppose.

“Work is still a big part of life but you get to enjoy yourself more here and make more of your time off. I enjoy the study here – it’s pretty easy going and there’s plenty of work for me here when I’m finished.”

The Sunshine Coast’s bright outlook

The Sunshine Coast, in South East Queensland, is home to so much more than glorious rays from the sun. While it has more than its fair share of bright sunny days, along with that also comes a relaxed lifestyle that revolves around the great outdoors. Summer temperatures average around 28°C and the winter months are mild, with average temperatures of around 20°C. Water lovers are well looked after, with sea temperatures ranging from 19°C in winter to 26°C in summer, making it perfect for swimming all year-round. So don’t be surprised to find locals taking an early morning dip before work, even in the middle of winter.

Just like its weather, the Sunshine Coast is easy-going. It offers a laid-back lifestyle in a small and safe environment, yet it is only an hour north of the city of Brisbane, and is easily accessible to the rest of the country by road, rail and air.

It may be free of the hustle and bustle of the city, but the Sunshine Coast is home to plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops, a vibrant nightlife, more sporting facilities than you can poke a cricket bat at and excellent educational institutions.

And, if you need a break from the sun, sand and surf, you can always head inland. The Sunshine Coast is home to a vast number of unspoiled national parks and a lush, green hinterland area – perfect for weekend sojourns. This region is also famous for its fresh produce. Take your pick from a number of weekly food markets.

Here, it is easy to live well, and the good news is that you don’t have to go there just for a holiday. The beautiful Sunshine Coast is an ideal spot to base yourself and further your education.

Esther Green, 34, from London, is studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland

“I chose the Sunshine Coast because the size of it really appealed to me. I had lived in London before and I didn’t want the hustle and bustle. The Sunshine Coast is much smaller and more personal.

“I have made some fantastic friends at university and found the staff here incredibly helpful. The lecturers really make themselves available to you, which makes it all easier.”

Claire Lunny, from Leicestershire, is studying hair and beauty at Sunshine Coast TAFE

“I chose Sunshine Coast TAFE to study hair and beauty because I wanted to try something completely new. As part of my training, I spend three days per week in the training salon while another day each week is spent working at a privately owned hairdressing business. The good thing about my training is that as the mother of five girls I stand to save a fortune on hairdressing in the long run.

“The Sunshine Coast is just wonderful because the weather is gorgeous and the people are so friendly. We never had any problems adjusting to the lifestyle.”

The diverse city of Rockhampton

Rockhampton, or ‘Rocky’ as it is aff ectionately known, is situated on the Tropic of Capricorn in Central Queensland. Sitting on the banks of the beautiful Fitzroy River, it is steeped in country charm and is referred to as ‘The Beef Capital of Australia’, so you will find there is no shortage of prime cuts here!

This region has an exciting history built on the wealth of gold rushes and cattle empires. Today, Rockhampton is a thriving city, offering an impressive range of sporting, cultural and educational facilities, with affordable housing and strong communities, but without the big-city stresses, as Professor Robert Reed, a lecturer at the University of Central Queensland, discovered for himself…

“My wife and I had been living in Newcastle before we moved to Rockhampton about two years ago,” Professor Reed says. “Here, it is a lot smaller and the pace is slower. It’s nice dropping back a gear, and the size of Rockhampton means people get to know each other pretty quickly.

“The city itself is really beautiful. It’s got a nice mix of heritage and history, and it has a good location – you have easy access to the coast, as well as beautiful forests and the outback.” It is also a region that appreciates the arts, and is the birthplace of many fine artists, performers and musicians. You can find many theatres and art galleries in Rockhampton.

Professor Robert Reed is a lecturer at the University of Central Queensland in Rockhampton

“I came here to do research on sunshine and the effects it has on micro organisms – something you can’t really do in the UK as there is just not enough sunshine!

“The climate is wonderful and the people are more friendly and outgoing than in the UK. There seems to be more career opportunities here than in the UK at the moment.”

And then there are the booming industries of mining and cattle. But while you might be more likely to be riding a bull than a surfboard here, the city is only a stone’s throw to some of Australia’s best beaches.

In less than 30 minutes you can be in the ocean, splashing off the dust. Alternatively, you can head west into the outback. Think quiet fishing holes, and long stretches of sunburnt country…


Hervey Bay, which is located on the Sunshine Coast, is Australia’s whale-watching capital. Between July and November, giant Humpback whales and their calves can be seen breaching and playing in the warm waters off shore. Just off the coast is World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. This stunning island is home to pristine, ancient rainforests, crystal-clear lakes and rock-pools, and amazing coloured sand formations, and is perfect for a weekend escape when you need a break from studying.

Thriving Toowoomba

Just 90 minutes west of Brisbane, Toowoomba is a modern mountain city, boasting beautiful heritage buildings and a range of education options for international students across all sectors.

Magnificent trees and more than 150 perfectly manicured gardens and parks are why Toowoomba has come to be known as Queensland’s Garden City. The grass is certainly greener on the other side here!

Toowoomba is a treasure trove of tradition and culture, with a burgeoning arts and culinary scene, and a blossoming wine industry. It is Australia’s largest inland regional city and is the commercial economic hub of the region.

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