Overseas university spotlight: Murdoch University (Australia)
Updated: May 27
Since Murdoch University was founded less than 50 years ago, it's had two focuses: sustainability, and pioneering access to education for people from diverse backgrounds.
Located in Perth (my favorite city in Australia), Murdoch was the second university in Western Australia at its time of founding, a place known for its mining and oil and gas industries.
Murdoch's emphasis on protecting the environment counterbalances that, and it even has its own bushland reserves on campus -- perfect for getting students out of the classroom.
It's also the only university in WA to offer a degree in veterinary science.
Here are some of the highlights from my trip to campus in October 2022!
First things first; we've all heard about Sydney and Melbourne.
But to me, Perth is Australia's best kept secret.
Sure, it's an extra 5-hour flight on top of a long trip to Sydney, but once you get there, it is absolutely worth it.
I lived there for four years, and not a day goes by that I don't miss it.
In fact, one reason I chose to live in San Diego is because it's actually Perth's sister city; the two are similar in size (about 2 million people), both have a beautiful skyline, high quality of life and outstanding beaches.
And if you're not keen on the idea of going to a beach packed with people, then Perth is a fabulous solution; sometimes you can have an entire beach to yourself!
And the best sunsets!
As the capital city of WA (Australia's largest state), Perth is considered the most isolated capital city in the world, and I think this is why it's great -- it's not overrun with tourists.
It's also one of the most affordable cities in Australia, the sunniest city in Australia and the climate is just comfortable (not humid like the east coast).
But speaking of skylines, Perth has recently undergone a lot of changes and development, including a new harbor (Elizabeth Quay), new hotels, new student housing residences and new restaurants.
And for those looking to get out every once and a while, there is no shortage of options; in my four years I was fortunate enough to explore many of these!
One place I would absolutely recommend visiting is Rottnest Island ('Rotto' according to locals), which you can reach via ferry in just 45 minutes.
You can stay overnight there or go for the day, rent a bike and cycle around the car-free island, enjoy the crystal blue waters and hidden beaches and take a 'quokka selfie' with the most famous island residents.
The Margaret River wine region is also about a 3-hour drive south, Denmark (home to the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen) is about 5 hours, Esperance (where there are kangaroos on the beach) is about 8 hours, and internationally, Bali is just 4 hours on a plane.
Going north, there is the Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage Site that some say is better than the Great Barrier Reef!
There's a really interesting site called the Pinnacles.
And going east toward the Outback, there is a cool place called the Wave Rock, which is as close as I'll get to actual surfing.
I could literally talk for hours about all the reasons I love Perth, but I'll leave it at this for now.
The bottom line: you MUST check it out!
Murdoch's main campus is located on South Street, just three stops on the train from Perth city.
From there, it's just two stops on the bus to campus, for a total travel time of about 30 minutes.
It's also a half hour on the bus from Fremantle, a very hip port city known for its maritime past and remnants of being a British penal colony.
With 25,000 students, the Murdoch campus is actually the largest geographical campus in Australia, almost an entire square mile.
This is due in large part to its School of Veterinary Science, which has its own on-campus farm, veterinary hospital, equine centre and high-tech teaching surgery (the only one in WA).
Its 5-year combined Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) also happens to be AVMA-accredited, which makes it easy to bring back to the U.S.
The main area of the university is an open quadrangle of grass and trees, known as Bush Court.
I thought it was really cool that there were bean bags scattered around so students can relax, read, meditate, hang out with friends and soak up the breeze.
One thing that is definitely noticeable, however, is the deliberate choice at its founding not to have any imposing buildings or clock towers like other universities have.
Like its buildings, Murdoch says its students are 'down to earth.'
The university also recently established three "myMurdoch Advice" locations across campus to assist with academic support and general advice for international students.
And its on-campus housing is equipped with an outdoor pool (now you know you're in Australia!).
Overall, it's a pretty chill campus with lots of green space, gardens and black cockatoos!
So what's next for Murdoch? Something quite big, actually!
Boola Katitjin is a brand new teaching space set to open in Semester 1, 2023, where 60 percent of students will be taught going forward.
It's also where Student Services will be housed, like a one-stop shop.
Interestingly, it will be built entirely out of timber, a modern and sustainable design with PV cells across the roof and views of bushlands.
When complete, it will be the largest mass engineered timber construction in the state.
And students will also benefit from the use of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology in the new building, making in-person learning more fun and interactive.
Murdoch University: Summary
Murdoch University may not be as old as other universities Down Under, but sustainability and access to education for all are constant themes.
Its students are 'down to earth,' and its tuition fees are generally more affordable than most.
It's a campus-based institution with many subjects to choose from, though best known for its degrees in veterinary science and environmental science.
And best of all, it's located in Perth, which, if you couldn't tell, is one of my favorite places on Earth.