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Study in Paradise at These Incredible Universities

28th April 2015 Posted by: Amy Murnan

Okay - so maybe beauty isn't at the top of everybody's priority list when they're looking for a place to study. Not many are looking to become a beach bum when they choose their degree course. However, when we found out that some of the world's most respected universities were also in jaw-droppingly beautiful locations, we had to take a look. For your sake, of course.

The number of internationally recognised universities that also have scenic surroundings might surprise you, though. If you want a high-quality education, it is entirely possible that you could end up studying in the foothills of mountain ranges, within earshot of the Pacific ocean or on a tropical island. In fact, studying at an insitution that is both academically and aesthetically appealing might even benefit your grades - research suggests that time spent looking at or in a natural environment can decrease stress, improve focus and provide mental clarity.

So, whether you like golden beaches or intricate architecture, there’s a university out there that will not only offer you a quality education, but an environment in which to truly make the most of it.

Source: Dhilung Kirat, Flickr, cropped from original. (CC License)

University of California, Santa Barbara US

California is famous for a lot of things, but the reason why settlers first flocked there (aside from the Gold Rush) is its naturally warm climate. And, if you are going to study in California, you can’t do much better than the University of California. Not only is it located just metres from the gorgeous Campus Point peninsula (pictured above), but the University of California system is one of the best group of schools in the US, and in the world. 9 out of 10 of its schools have been ranked among the best in the world for research, and currently the faculty at Santa Barbara alone contains 6 Nobel Prize laureates. UCSB is particularly esteemed for its courses in Engineering, Physics and Computer Science too, making their courses highly sought-after by employers. And, to top it all off, UCSB has its own lagoon.

Perhaps this all sounds too good to be true - but it gets better. As a 'Public Ivy' school, UCSB's prices are less expensive than a traditional Ivy League School, and over 20% of the student body is international. So, it is not only a beautiful university, but a multi-cultural one too.

Source: Ian Barbour, Flickr (CC License)

University of Cape Town, South Africa

Nobody could argue that UCT's campus is anything but astounding. The university's upper campus is located just below Devil's Peak, part of the phenomenal Table Mountain range on the tip of the Cape Peninsula. The campus is surrounded by acres of UNESCO protected land famed for its biodiversity, with species unique only to this area of the world - making it the ideal place for budding biologists and environmental scientists. Courses are taught in English, but you're likely to hear one of 11 other official languages while studying here too.

Academically, UCT is on the rise. In 2014 was ranked as the 4th best university in countries with emerging economies, and is very involved in research on health and disease. Additionally, UCT's graduate business school, research institutes and sports scholarships are attracting more international students - there are currently 4,500 international students at UCT, making up 18% of the total student population. And, if you want value for money, UCT's fees are much lower than many leading universities.

Source: Dunedin NZ, Flickr. (CC License)

University of Otago, New Zealand

The University of Otago's appeal comes from not just its location, but if you're into classic Gothic-influenced architecture, from its buildings too. The 'clocktower complex' (pictured above) opened in 1869 and is modelled on the universities that settlers in New Zealand admired from the 'old world', making it something of a point of interest. However, if bricks and mortar aren't your thing, you have only to leave the campus and travel further afield to see some of New Zealand's awe-inspiring landscapes. Clear blue rivers, extinct volcanoes and rolling hills have made Otago famous, not least because it was one of the spectacular locations used for the Lord of the Rings films. Trip to Fangorn Forest, anyone?

Cultural references aside, the University of Otago is also New Zealand's oldest university and is consistently listed within the top 200 universities in the world by QS. It is one of only two universities in New Zealand that teaches medicine, and it also has an eclectic cultural mix in its student population, with significant numbers of Māori, Asian, European and Pacific Island students.

Source: Daniel Ramirez, Flickr. (CC License)

University of Hawaii, US

UH's Manoa campus on the island of Oahu (pictured above) is as close to a tropical paradise as you might get whilst at university. Situated in a valley with daily rainfall and temperatures of around 20-30 degrees Celcius all year, the landscape is covered in lush greenery and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else. Manoa valley is also moments away from Waikiki, a tourist hotspot famed for its long sandy beach - so you can even study whilst sunbathing, if you aren't too busy surfing or island-hopping.

Students at UH represent 126 different countries and regions, and the university is distinguished in oceanography, cancer research, genetics, linguistics and Pacific Island and Asian studies. UH is also an NCAA Division I university - meaning that it has excellent sports teams, stellar facilities and more athletic scholarships available than other American colleges.


Source: Jason James, Flickr. (CC License)

University of Sydney, Australia

We all know that Sydney itself is a beautiful city, with its iconic harbour and glistening blue waters. However, the city's university is also famed for its striking appearance. Established in 1850, the University of Sydney's main building is built out of sandstone in a Neo-Gothic style, and has subsequently become known as one of the 'sandstone' universities for both its architecture and its academic reputation, much like the 'red brick' universities of the UK. Inside you can find stained glass windows, carved stone staircases, and a Great Hall that would give Hogwarts a run for its money - all in a subtropical climate, on the doorstep of one of the world's top 5 student cities.

But there is more to the University of Sydney than its main building - overall there are 11 other satellite campuses dotted around the city and its surrounding area, each offering specialised tuition in subjects ranging from Agriculture to the Arts. It also has several leading research institutes, and holds 37th position in the QS World Rankings, placing it within the top 0.3% of universities in the world.


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