Architectural Blatherations

Australian Architecture Students Rate their Schools: Part 1

top rule

The Good Oil

Do you want to study architecture in Australia? Which are the top architecture schools in Australia? For those of you who are thinking of studying architecture in Australia, we have a few tips. For those of you thinking of doing research in architecture, check out our acclaimed research rating of the Aussie schools.

Cut to the chase: Go here to Part 2 of this article for our summary charts on the best and worst Australian architecture schools, as rated by their own students.

Final release: As you can read below, the Australian architecture schools have definitively terminated the release of any rankings. They don't want you to know.

Basic structure of education

Until the early 2000s, the Australian architecture schools followed the United Kingdom model of a double bachelors, or bachelors and diploma. In the first decade of the 21st century the Australian schools decided to ape their American cousins in a sad example of architectural credential inflation and provide a degree structure consisting of a bachelors degree, variously called, followed by a masters in architecture. Only now do we have enough masters students graduating to provide opinions about their education.

Measuring student satisfaction

So where should you study? Depends who you ask.

  • Ask the students. They want a satisfying, challenging, useful and equitable learning experience. We discuss how happy Aussie architecture students are compared to their compatriots in other disciplines here.
  • Ask their future employers, the architecture firms. They want solid, skilled and cheap labour.
  • Ask the architecture teachers. They want tenure, bright students and time to work on their masterpiece.
  • Ask the universities that house the schools. They want academic papers and books, and a flood of research money from the government. We provide a separate ranking table about this here.

On this page we provide the latest data on what the students think of their education, using the data from the national Course Experience Questionnaire and its successor the University Experience Study.

Some caveats

The key point is that course satisfaction surveys measure what students think of their recent education. Not employers, not parents, not people who graduated thirty years ago. Let us emphasize that:

  • These surveys say nothing about a school's research performance or community service. But then, if you were a student looking for a school, you did't care much about those, anyway.
  • This is what students think: whether their perceptions are valid, and what employers think, are other issues.
  • Graduates' ratings can be very volatile: one year's grads may give a much worse or better rating than just the next year's crop.
  • Thes survey poll the prior year's graduates. They were really assessing their experience of several years. There is therefore an inherent time-lag in the data: a lot of grudge factor, and many memories of happy times. A melange.

The CEQ Study: 1994–2012

We used for our data the annual Australian Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ)1, which polled students from 1994 to 2013. This was run by the very nice people at Graduate Careers Australia. The survey used several different scales to measure how satisfied graduates were with their courses. We used the Overall Satisfaction Index (OSI) from this survey to make our analyses. We converted the raw numbers into simple ranks for each year. Quite a lot of people tried to prevent us getting this information, but we found ways around their obstructionism.

2013: The Schools Block the Information

The last Course Experience Questionnaire was conducted on the students graduating in 2012. The CEQ was replaced by the University Experience Study (UES) in 2014, run by the shadowy organisation The Social Research Centre. We always had excellent relations with Graduate Careers Australia, who very generously provided us with the information we needed to construct our rankings.

From The Social Research Centre we have heard not a peep, despite our many efforts to contact them. We have some evidence that The Social Research Centre is run by the Church of Scientology. No, wait, let me rephrase that: we have some evidence that many members of The Social Research Centre are scientologists. If that turns out to be the case, then this may be the last update to these ratings. If the many people we have emailed at the The Social Research Centre would care to disabuse us of our wild and crazy notions, all they have to do is reply. Just one reply would be fine, thanks. Just one. Anyone? Anyone?

1. In an act of utter bastardry, in 2008 Universities Australia, the supposed owner of the CEQ data, not only refused to publish the data for that year but also expunged all the previously public domain data from the prior 14 years! For more information, read our page on what Australian universities don't want you to know. But we've found our own ways around that.

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