How good is the reputation of Swinburne University in Victoria, Australia?
May 15, 2006 7:29 PM   Subscribe

How good is the reputation of Swinburne University in Victoria, Australia? Are they more focused on teaching or research?

As mentioned in previous AskMe's, I'm looking into moving to Melbourne and their might be an opportunity for an Academic position at the Hawthorn campus of Swinburne in Victoria, Australia. Therefore, I'm looking for opinions from the AskMe hive mind on:

a. Swinburne's reputation (and a link to websites detailing its ranking relative to some other vic/aussie uni's)

b. their focus (teaching, research, both)

c. living arrangements for Hawthorn (distance from city etc)

d. Personal anecdotes about the campus and/or the university.

Many thanks to you all in advance! I'm getting closer! :)
posted by ranglin to Education (7 answers total)
a. Swinburne has a background as a technical college, so traditionally had a focus on teaching technical and trade skills. In terms of the 'man on the street' reputation, it is probably third tier (based on its trade background, the fact that it has become a university in relatively recent times by Australian standards), but in its specialised areas (technical), it probably has a good reputation in the field.

b. Ranks very highly for teaching (look for the Good Universities Guide online, but be aware that they change the focus of their award for the top university each year, so you need to read what it was actually for!!).

c. Hawthorn is a great place to live. It is perhaps 15 minutes by train into the centre of the city and generally good public transport links. The area is fairly well to do (major hub of private high schools), but also does have the international students attending Swinburne. The main shopping strip near the university (Glenferrie Road) has great shops, restaurants and cafes, supermarkets, some pubs and bars, some nice parks, also nearby streets have more of this sort of stuff. Friends who live in the area in an unrenovated (ie. no swish stainless steel kitchen) but pleasant house in walking distance of Swinburne and Glenferrie Road pay something like $250 for a two bedroom place, but you can go either way up or down the price range to an extent. Generally, great place to live..

d. Only personal anecdote is unfortunately one of some staff being treated badly in terms of being given stability of employment. Probably common to many universities though.
posted by AnnaRat at 8:31 PM on May 15, 2006

I studied psychology at Swinburne and enjoyed it immensely. At the time (>10 years ago) it seemed a more practical course than the ones at Monash or Melbourne Uni. The teaching staff came from a range of (psychology) disciplines so there was a great range of informed teaching.

Socially, it's not the greatest place. It doesn't have the same range of social (or political) activities for students that the other unis seem to have. IIRC, there is a higher proportion of mature-age students at Swinburne than at the main unis.

The area surrounding the uni has improved dramatically since I was there so there's lots of shopping, cafes, bookshops, pubs, etc. within easy reach of the uni (and there's a really great Malaysian place - can't remember the name of it unfortunately - on Burwood Road).

Hawthorn's a lovely suburb - as AnnaRat noted. It's really close to the city and transport and there are lots of lovely parks and bike tracks. Parts of Hawthorn are not cheap though.
posted by prettypretty at 9:06 PM on May 15, 2006

I'm currently studying Multimedia (Business Marketing) and the first impressions have sort of stuck.

Student Res From what I've noticed, it is incredibly overpriced. For a shoebox apartment with a microwave, kettle, bed and desk, a friend of mine is paying close to $200 p.w.

Travel Glenferrie Station, smack bang in the middle of it. About 5-10 minutes to Richmond which will hook you up to all other lines or anything. Great location.

Social Life Being on a train line, it's a pretty anti-social uni. Everyone just tends to go straight home. That's it. But the pubs are great, and there are plenty of great [and cheap] places to eat.

Basically, I'm in there now, made some good friends, and can't complain. Lecturers and tutors are either crazy, funny, or both. It's not like i'm changing any time soon.
posted by taita_cakes at 2:06 AM on May 16, 2006

Response by poster: Derail on my own question:

Are there lots of international students at Hawthorn? Which is the main campus of Swinburne? Is Hawthorn just an outskirts campus, or is it one of the main campuses?
posted by ranglin at 4:01 PM on May 16, 2006

ranglin, Hawthorn is the main campus. AFAIK, the only other campus is in Prahran and they mainly teach art & design there (I'm willing to be corrected on that).

I think you'll find that there are lots of international students in all of the universities in Australia. Since the Government reduced funding for universities (quite drastically in the last two or three of decades, much of the cutting happening more recently) they've had to look to other avenues for income, hence the prevalence of international students in Australian unis generally.
posted by prettypretty at 4:13 PM on May 16, 2006

Yes, I'd say there are lots of international students at Swinburne's Hawthorn campus (by which I mean students from Asia and the sub-continent), judging by the expansion of their on-campus housing (Australian students are more likely to live at home or in a share house since on campus accommodation in Australia is usually more expensive than rental market options).

If you are going to be teaching a subject which is popular with international students (business subjects esp marketing, IT stuff), be aware that you may have classes heavily loaded with international students (particularly if it is a two year masters course, as the requirements for getting Australian permanent residency give extra points for two years of study here.. or something like that). In my experience, the English level of these students is often not as good as you'd like it to be for a university level course.

The Malaysian place mentioned is probably Penang Coffee House.. I think it has moved in recent times or is about to? But yes, very good.

The Hawthorn campus is the main, original campus. You can find out about the rest of the campuses on their website - they are mostly outer suburbs (aside from Prahran).
posted by AnnaRat at 4:27 PM on May 16, 2006

I'm a current Swin student also... :)

my final semester of Multimedia Software Development.

Hawthorn is a pretty nice suburb, lots of good shops, easy to get to, 10 minute train ride from Flinders St Station and the trains leave about every 10 minutes or so in peak hour.

The campus itself is pretty nice - it's really close to Glenferrie shopping strip which has some really nice cafes, Mario's, for instance...

There are heaps of international students at Swinburne - funding for Aussie students from the government is such that Uni's here HAVE to take on lots of international students for funding, pretty much.

Swinburne has a fantastic reputation for IT, Design, and Multimedia... I'm not as sure about the other departments, not having looked into it... It's far smaller than Melbourne Uni, but still is highly regarded.

The focus is on creating employable students, so work experience - including a year long optional placement within a company - is highly encouraged and promoted.

If you don't want to live in Hawthorn, I highly recommend living in the city and commuting - the travel time on the train is very slight, and you can get some great apartments in Southbank or the city for some decent prices.
posted by jonathanstrange at 10:56 PM on May 16, 2006

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