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James Cook University, Townsville

Queensland, Australia

Est. 1961

Ranked among top 20 universities in AUS

About James Cook University, Townsville

Located in Queensland, Australia, James Cook University (JCU) is a public, tropical research university that was established in the year 1961. The university is named after James Cook, who was an English explorer and navigator and his voyages have significantly contributed to science. It is one of the oldest universities in Australia and the second oldest in the state of Queensland.
The university offers undergraduate and graduate courses in a wide range of courses, like business, social sciences, education, health and medicine, science, creative arts, engineering and law. The courses can be completed on-campus as well as off-campus with the help of printed materials, online resources and other technologies. While the university is one of the top 4% of universities across the world, its education is negatively reviewed by majority of the past students.

JCU's School of Engineering


acceptance rate

A$37,500 (~US$27,000) /year
average tuition fee

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A$8,800 (~US$6,400) /year
average living expense

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Engineering graduate courses offered at JCU

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JCU has main campuses in city of Cairns and Townsville and other smaller campuses in Mt. Isa and Mackay cities of Queensland. It also has a campus in Singapore on 149 Sims Street, which was opened in the year 2003.
The Townsville campus is the largest campus of the university and has more than 12,500 students, including more than 1000 international students. The campus is spread across 385 hectares of land in the Douglas suburb of Townsville. The campus is being redeveloped under the $1 billion Discovery Rise project which was announced in the year 2007.
The Cairns campus of the university is located in Smithfield suburb, which is about 15km from the central business district of Cairns. More than 4000 students study at the Cairns campus of the university, including around 400 international students. JCU Cairns campus is also home to the Cairns Institute, JCU Dental, Australian Tropical Forest Institute, Australian Tropical Herbarium and Queensland Tropical Health Alliance.
While the Townsville campus has a suburban setting, Cairns campus is most covered in rainforest. If you are studying at the Townville campus, you’ll have an abundance of restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, etc. close to the campus, but there are only few spots around the Cairns campus where the students can hangout in their free time.


JCU campuses are known for their state-of-the art facilities that provide students with a modern learning experience. Multiple eateries, parking, book shops and even ATMs are located within the campus itself. As the university is focused on tropical research, it is home to more than 15 research centers throughout its campuses. It has two main libraries- Mabo Library Townsville and Cairns Library that have more than 1 million reading materials. Moreover, students can also access most of these reading materials by logging into their account on university’s official website.
One of the most common complain about the infrastructure of the university is lack of parking spots for students. Students who pay a yearly fee of $80 are not able to get a parking spot on a daily basis and are required to park in dirt.

Residing Options

Out of all the JCU campuses, only the Townsville campus has on-campus accommodation. It has a total of 7 on-campus colleges and halls that currently accommodate more than 1,200 students. These accommodations are managed by the JCU Accommodation Service to ensure that the students receive the best of facilities.
Applying for an accommodation at the Townsville campus of the university is easy and you can do it online. Moreover, the university has also teamed with a number of providers to offer off-campus accommodations that are close to the university. For international students, the university also offers temporary accommodation when they arrive.


Due to the tropical climate of Queensland, JCU experiences a good mix of summer, winter, autumn and rain. The average temperature in the summer months between November and January is around 28 degrees Celsius and in winter that lasts between May and July, the average temperature is around 18 degree Celsius. It rains throughout the year in Queensland, however, maximum showers are experienced between November and March.
As you can see, the climate in Queensland is nothing to worry about. While the rains can play a spoilsport if you are planning for an outdoor activity, overall, the climate is easily tolerable for international students, especially if you are from India.

Faculty and pedagogy

Faculty at the university has been constantly criticized by students for their poor teaching methods. Also, a lot of students have complained that the university doesn’t have adequate lecturers and they hardly get lectures from the same lecturer on a regular basis. Moreover, JCU is now shifting most of its curriculum to its online platform. As a result, the students will no longer be able to study in the positive learning environment of a lecture hall.
On the bright side, the students who have taken medicine and marine biology are happy with the education at JCU. They have some of the most experienced and acclaimed professors to teach them and the presence of multiple research facilities on JCUs campus only adds up to their learning experience. A number of students also believe that the university is biased towards the marine biology courses and doesn’t provide equal facilities for other courses.

Financial aid

One of the best things about the university is the financial aid that it offers to its local and international students. It offers scholarships to undergraduates, postgraduates, honours and research students. However, you need to qualify for these scholarships through your financial requirement or academic performance.
The university also offers a number of external scholarships that are provided by government, industry and business groups. For the international students, the university also has OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover).

Jobs and placements

This is yet another aspect of the university which disappoints a number of students. While the university has been awarded with 5 stars by the Good Universities Guide for Job Success in 2015, most of the students find it extremely difficult to find a job after finishing their studies at the university. A large number of graduates from the university fail to find a job and they take post-graduation from other universities to make themselves eligible for jobs in their respective fields.


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  • Verdict

    While the university does rank in the top 4% of the universities all over the world, the quality of education is highly unimpressive. While it is an excellent tropical research university, you should only consider this university if you are interested in their medicine and marine biology courses.

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