Melbourne: Student Liveability
Background and Overview
I am looking at student liveability in Melbourne, and I am defining "student" here as an independent university student who is not living with their parents. This topic deeply interests me since I was born in Melbourne, and hope to move there to study in the near future. In this section, I will give an overview on the type of investigation I will conduct, including examples of investigations done by other people, and some background on Melbourne.
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, a state in the southeast of Australia, located on the bay of Port Phillip, with the Yarra River flowing through it. Melbourne is an EMDC known for its liveability in the world, education, arts and culture. The many parks and gardens as well as 19th century style architecture help to provide its inhabitants a comfortable and relaxing environment amidst the hustle and bustle of city life. Here is a map of Melbourne from their government website showing some of the functional zones and facilities around the city:
As Melbourne goes through urban growth, it is now a developed city and currently has a population of around 4,442,919 people. It is the most populated city in Victoria and the second most populated city in Australia. Here is a graph showing Melbourne's annual population growth compared to Sydney, another developed city in Australia:
In my previous investigation on Hong Kong's student liveability, I found some professional studies that were previously done to measure and evaluate student liveability or liveability in general in different cities:
- The Mercer Quality of Living Survey
- The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability Ranking
- The QS Best Student Cities index
The factors used by these studies that were used to evaluate “liveability” or “student liveability” include:
- Student community (student mix)
- Quality of life
- Employer reputation
- Economic stability
- Culture & Environment
When doing an investigation like this, it also needs to be taken into account that something like "student liveability" can be subjective to how different students live and also their individual values, but these areas of investigation can serve as a broad structure that can account for most students in developed cities like Melbourne.
What are the pros and cons of liveability for students in Melbourne?
1. What is the quality of life like in Melbourne?
2. What are universities like in Melbourne?
3. What other pull-factors may there be for students coming to Melbourne to study?
Quality of life in Melbourne
Here are two sets of data from different international liveability rankings, showing where Australian cities are placed. The left is the Mercer Quality of Living Survey (2015) and the right is the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability Ranking (2014):
Melbourne is placed 16th on one ranking, and 1st on the other. As we can see, Melbourne is not only one of the most liveable cities in Australia, but also in the world. According to surveys about quality of living implemented on the residents of Australia by the Property Council of Australia, Melbourne pros and cons are as follows:
- PROS: cultural entertainment, look and design, diverse people
- CONS: climate, road traffic, safety
The pros of liveability in Melbourne all depict aspects of the urban environment which are beneficial to students, providing them with a sense of belonging and making them feel welcome. Cultural entertainment helps students who grew up in Melbourne to enjoy and connect to their own culture, and also helps students who came from other cities to understand Melbourne's culture authentically in order to quickly become 'a part' of the city. Beautiful architecture, parks and gardens, as mentioned in background and overview, contribute towards an appealing look and design of the city, providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for students from other cities to feel at home. Diverse people in a city shows that Melbourne is an inclusive city with good student mix, so students can interact with and understand peers from different cultures and backgrounds, which is always beneficial for learning and social life. Part of my interview below with an alumnus of Deakin University (Burwood campus in Melbourne) shows a student perspective on liveability in Melbourne.
Q: How would you rate the liveability of Melbourne on a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best)? Why?
A: 8 to 9. Melbourne is a garden city. The air is very fresh and the weather is comfortable during all four seasons. It's also not too humid there. It's very safe in Melbourne and the people are very nice to you. The reason why I subtracted one point is because the living pace is very slow, and it's a big place so there isn't a lot of public transport since they expect you to have a private car. The reason why I subtracted another point is because, if you're not interested in sport, you won't find much to do on the weekend. Many people there are "beer and ball".
Q: What aspects of Melbourne's urban environment attract you? Why?
A: Fresh air and blue skies, it makes people happy and healthy. There's a lot of fresh food the fruit available all the time, and a lot of it is organic. There is a lot of space for everyone to live, so houses are all very big and comfy.
Q: What aspects of Melbourne's urban environment do you think could be improved? Why?
A: Transport. There aren't a lot of public transport options available, so if you miss a bus, you will have to wait a long time. Otherwise, you need to drive your own car. Sometimes, you can't find a single shop for miles.
The responses from this interview demonstrate distance decay as a problem in Melbourne for students. Since it is a big city, it may sometimes be hard to reach certain facilities, and residents may therefore choose to not visit those places or consider other alternatives. As a result,
Universities in Melbourne
Melbourne has several internationally popular universities, including the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and Monash University. The image below shows the best student cities based on university rankings, where Melbourne is placed 9th.
Another part of my interview below with an alumnus of Deakin University (Burwood campus in Melbourne) provides more insight into universities in Melbourne from a student perspective.
Q: Why did you choose to study at Deakin University (Burwood campus)?
A: Deakin University is a famous teaching college in Australia. It has two campuses, one in Burwood and one in Geelong. The Geelong campus is in the countryside, so I chose the Burwood campus.
Q: What was most memorable about your experience at Deakin University (Burwood Campus)?
A: The people were all really nice. Sometimes after school, I had to wait a long time for public transport, but other students and teachers who were driving, even those I didn't know, would always offer me a lift.
Q: What do you know and think about other universities in Melbourne?
A: Many of the universities are similar in Melbourne, but different universities specialise in different areas. For example, RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) specialises in technology, Deakin in education and Monash in medicine.
Q: What would you tell students (advice, suggestions etc.) who are choosing to study university in Melbourne?
A: Learn to drive, because transport is not very convenient there, and if you buy a second-hand car there, learn to fix small problems. It can save you a lot of money. Learn to plan ahead, because often supermarkets and shops are at least half an hour away from home, so you'll have to go once a week and buy your groceries in one go.
Here is a video clip showing the perspectives and stories of some students at the University of Melbourne.
This video shows a lot of positive perspectives, partly because its origin is from the University of Melbourne itself, and its purpose is probably to promote the university. Therefore, it is limited in that it may contain selected information and may not provide a range of both positive and negative perspectives. However, it is still very valuable because it gives us insight into the different types of positive perspectives on the university.
My results show that Melbourne has a selection of popular universities, and is appealing to students around the world for many reasons, including exchange programs, people mix, career opportunities, facilities etc. However, due to the large space, some facilities may often be out of reach, which is why convenience may correlate strongly with popularity in less densely populated cities like Melbourne.
Other pull-factors of Melbourne
Melbourne is a liveable city for students due to many other reasons. For example, employer activity is strong in Melbourne, which is favourable for students aspiring to make a living there in future. The image below shows that Melbourne is tied in 5th place on a ranking for employer activity among other cities around the world.
One of the biggest pull-factors of Melbourne evident throughout my whole investigation is the inclusiveness of the city and its people. All students living in Melbourne will feel welcome, whether it's because of the people or by the environment.
Overall, Melbourne is an extremely liveable city for students. The image below shows Melbourne ranked 2nd in the world for being an excellent 'student city'.
From what I have learnt during my investigation, I hypothesise that Melbourne will continue to be a very inclusive and liveable city for students, and the problems it will face will be different to other cities like Hong Kong. Currently in Melbourne, there are unions that stir up arguments in cases of emergencies when working hours need to be added. So, today's generation of students in Melbourne will need to face this issue and learn to be flexible in the future, so they can also set a good example for future student generations to come.