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Northbridge Secondary School Counsellor Dave Reed visits Australia's best universities

In April, I had the privilege of traveling to Sydney and Melbourne to visit some of the universities and catch up with some of our former Northbridge International School Cambodia students. Having a chance to catch up with them over a meal, or coffee was a great opportunity to get the inside story of what life in Australia is like for a NISC student.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Australia University

Although all their stories are different and Sydney and Melbourne are distinctly different, the one overwhelming consistency is that our students are loving Australia.

Many of them have had to learn to cook and some have even got part-time jobs. I found this particularly interesting as they sighted needing the life experience as the main reason for pursuing extra work opportunities.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - University of Sydney

University of Sydney

The oldest university in Australia and they have definitely got a few things right over the years. Despite having an educational standard that is world-class, they have an educational framework that is designed around three core choices of degrees: professional degrees, specialist degrees or liberal studies.  

These three choices mean that every student has an option that is specific to what and how they want to study.

The facilities are exactly what I would expect from one of the top university in Australia. An eclectic but well-balanced blend of old stone buildings that transport you to a different time and state of the art purpose built facilities like the nanoscience hub which has some of the best cleanroom and nanofabrication facilities in the world.

The atmosphere on the campus was electric and students were clearly happy to be there and deeply engaged with their learning. By 11am, the smell of food was a little distracting for me with cafes and food vendors in every building on the campus. This was added to by a wide range of food trucks parked on their main walkway through the campus.

The University of Sydney is a great place to learn and I am sure many of our students in the upcoming years will have more to say about that.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - UNSW


Not as old as the University of Sydney, but still a very clearly defined and well-tested university with some very innovative learning practices.

Courses are structured around eight different faculties but there are many options and the all famous double degree is one of their more popular choices. Business and Engineering are most popular and they perform outstandingly well in the world rankings on these two areas.

The facilities are modern and there are a variety of student independent workspaces all over the campus. Some of them around green spaces and I saw many students making the most of the weather in Sydney in study groups around green spaces and in air-conditioned break out nooks around the campus.

One of the great features that stood out to me was a more collaborative large classroom structure with a lecturer presenting but reprojected at different working stations with about 6-8 student in small focus groups. A great way to keep the 'big lecture' collaborative.

The layout of the university was spread over two main areas, upper campus and lower campus, but both areas were really quite green and they have incorporated a lot of nature into the spaces and built around old trees and green spaces.  

The food options were again vast and I managed to successfully walk past several rather attractive cafes and food vendors.

As we have three students currently enrolled at UNSW they were very engaged with their programs and have transitioned well to living in Sydney.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - UTS

UTS - University of Technology Sydney

Voted as the top young university in Australia, I could clearly see why it has become a popular choice for university students.

This university has some very innovative and traditional options for study. With over 200 degrees from 11 faculties, this is certainly a university with world-class curriculum development and attention to changing trends in employment demands.

This is a university which is in the heart of Sydney and housed in several iconic buildings all within walking distance of each other and major public transport. This location is also strategic with around 40% of Australian startups situated on their doorstep.

With the available think tanks and startup-business incubators they utilize, the UTS students have many options to interact with some of the brightest minds in the region. Being the young university that it is has meant that many of their buildings are purpose built and state of the art.

The strength of any technology focussed institution is clearly in the area of engineering and IT related fields, but UTS also performs really well on Law, Education and Business and Economics in the ranking game.

The Univesity of Technology Sydney and the INSEARCH pathway program will be a popular choice for our students next year as the quality of education and support services are outstanding and will be well matched for our students.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - University Melbourne

University of Melbourne

Established in 1853, the University of Melbourne is a public-spirited institution that makes distinctive contributions to society in research, learning and teaching and engagement.

It’s consistently ranked among the leading universities in the world and it is clear for any visitor or student to see why. The curriculum is driven by industry demands and this is facilitated by regular and specific feedback from employers regarding what they demand from graduates in the workplace. This is one of the initiatives that has resulted in Uni Melbourne being #6 in the world on the QS employability ranking.

The facilities at this university are an interesting mix of the traditional and the new. The university occupies a large area of the heart of Melbourne City, and there is a clear to preserve the heritage of many of the traditional buildings while advancing the perspective of students through innovative and design of the more up to date buildings. An example of this is the hanging classrooms that dominate the atrium of the design building.  

The feeling of the campus was very relaxed and despite being in the heart of the city, had a very fresh and natural atmosphere with large lawns where students can be seen gathering between classes.

Melbourne is known for amazing food and the campus reflected this with several interesting food vendors and catering start-ups of which many are student driven.

The University of Melbourne is the premium university in Australia and the entry requirements, student cohort and excellence presented during my time there are some of the reasons this is the first choice for many of our students looking at Australia next year.

For more information, contact Mr Dave: dave.reed@nisc.edu.kh