Overseas university spotlight: Bond University (Australia)
Updated: May 25
Rarely do I get the opportunity to visit a university that's younger than me, but Bond University in the Gold Coast, Queensland, has just narrowly fit that bill.
Founded in 1987, it's also one of only a handful of private universities in Australia.
And notably, it's been named Australia's #1 university for the student experience in the last 16 years (Good Universities Guide, 2006-22).
Historically, Bond has also had a huge presence in North America; there are official alumni committees in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Toronto that hold regular events.
This popularity is due in part to the fact that it offers accelerated degrees; most programs can be completed in just two years.
Here are some of the highlights from my visit in October 2022 - on a rare grey day!
With 4,000 students in total, one of the features of a Bond degree is personalized attention.
Typically, there are no more than 12 students per class.
And when I asked one current student what her favorite part of being a 'Bondy' was, she said just that -- the personalized teaching and opportunities to network.
But Bond is perhaps most notable for its accelerated degrees.
It uses a 3-semester timetable (each one lasting 13 weeks), which means students can finish a bachelor's degree in two years, a master’s degree in 1-2 years, a double degree in less than four years or a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in just three years.
This also means students can start in any one of the three semesters: January, May or September.
But it doesn't mean that students have a higher workload; it just means there is less down time between semesters.
So what can you study at Bond?
One of the most popular subjects for North American students is law.
Bond offers a 2-year Juris Doctor (JD), which is normally a 3-year degree in the U.S.
Bond also has degrees in arts, communications, business, medicine, film and tv, international relations, tourism and more.
And one of the nicest aspect of Bond is the fact that there are no classes on Wednesdays between 12-2 p.m. in order to encourage students to get together at the amphitheater and enjoy a free BBQ or meal.
The campus itself is an American-style campus with everything you need around, including a 'Bond Express' mini grocery, indoor/outdoor basketball courts, two Olympic swimming pools, beach volleyball courts, a gym (free membership), Career Development Centre and more.
It's located in the suburb of Robina, an easy bus ride from the main drag of the Gold Coast.
Most students live on campus initially, and after that, many choose to live close to the beach and commute.
For students living on campus, there is also the option of having a meal plan.
Don’s Tavern is Bond’s social hotspot, and there are more than 40 clubs and societies regularly running events.
Perhaps the most prominent feature of Bond's campus is the manmade lake near the Arch Building (sadly no students were out today!).
Bond's facilities are quite modern, including the library below, which also has board games available to loan out.
It's sometimes open 24 hours a day.
Bond also offers all of its students, regardless of discipline, the opportunity to participate in the Transformer program.
It's an Australian-first entrepreneurship program that has its own dedicated co-working space (below).
Students work in multidisciplinary teams, tasked with developing practical solutions to real-world problems.
Elsewhere on campus, there are banquet halls, gaming rooms, lecture theatres, as well as indoor and outdoor study spaces.
One building I thought was extremely interesting is home to the Abedian School of Architecture.
I was told it was purposely built with slight errors (nothing catastrophic!) to use for teaching purposes.
I would potentially compare the Gold Coast to being Australia's version of Orlando -- but with a beach.
It's a tourist hotspot for both Australians and foreign visitors alike.
It's also the theme park capital of Australia.
The Gold Coast is home to Dreamworld (the largest park), WhiteWater World (waterpark), Wet'n'Wild (the largest waterpark), Warner Bros. Movie World and Sea World.
For those who like spending time outdoors, the whole region is basically one large outdoor adventure park.
You can walk the treetops at Mount Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
Go on a whale-watching cruise
Take an elevator 77 floors to the SkyPoint Observation Deck
Chase waterfalls at Lamington National Park
Swim with the turtles and rays at Cook Island
Cuddle a koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Take an Aquaduck (a bus/boat combo) tour of the city of Gold Coast
And so much more!
Surfer's Paradise is the liveliest part of town where most of the nightlife and shopping takes place.
Nestled equidistant (about an hour's drive) from the capital city of Queensland, Brisbane, and another popular tourist city of Byron Bay, the Gold Coast offers students so many options when it comes to getting out and exploring the region.
Bond University - Summary
Bond University is a small, private institution nestled in a suburb near the Gold Coast, in the northeast of Australia -- a lively, well-located beachy place.
Bond's ethos is to put the student first, and academics even know the students by their first names.
With small classes, students get more personalized attention than most.
And with accelerated degrees due to its 3-semester system, students get out into the workplace quicker.
Studying at Bond is not going to be the traditional university experience.
But maybe that's just what you're looking for.