Why study in Australia
For many, Australia means kangaroos in the outback, or the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge at New Year. But when you look beyond those, you’ll discover why so many international students choose to study in Australia, and it often ranks in the top 10 best countries to study abroad.
The setting of international cities in a vast expanse of natural beauty is one attraction. But it boasts world-class universities, a diverse and welcoming population, and one of the world’s most generous sets of grants and bursaries. And it’s all backed by a national culture that welcomes visitors so much, they often decide to stay.
Why choose Australia for study? Here are a few reasons:
- Generous funding for international students. Australia is one of the world’s most generous nations when it comes to education, offering a range of bursaries and grants for students.
- World-class universities. Australian universities regularly feature in the top 100 of world rankings, but with a rigorous education system, you can be sure of a top-quality education wherever you study in Australia.
- The stunning natural landscape. Australia is renowned for its diverse beauty, from gorgeous beaches and reefs to breathtaking desert plains and mountains. The Australian landscape and wildlife are like nowhere else on earth.
- A welcoming nation. Australia has been welcoming people for hundreds of years, and it’s just the same for students. International students can study any topic, and the student visa enables them to work — whether that’s to support their education or fund their adventures exploring the country.
The Australian welcome is not just down to the national history and culture though, the government has set explicit standards that universities must meet for international students to ensure that they have all the support they need while they are studying.
Australia has 43 universities, mostly publicly funded. And all are research institutions, helping to support their academic credentials and making it the world’s fourth most popular destination (after the UK, US and France) for PhDs.
Combined with Australia’s vibrant culture — whether it’s relaxing or surfing on the beaches or sampling the nightlife of the cities — and the opportunities that its generous student visa offers, the country has become a leading destination for students, with over half-a-million students heading to Australia every year to earn their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
Culture in Australia
Australia’s culture is similar to many Western nations, especially the UK, from where many Australians trace their heritage. However, the country’s history and unique geography have also shaped that culture.
Aboriginals are believed to have lived in Australia for as much as 60,000 years, but the influx of Westerners from the late-eighteenth century onwards transformed the nation. Used first by the Europeans as a prison colony — criminals were often deported for relatively minor crimes — it was deportees and their families that shaped modern Australia’s early years.
Combined with the sometimes inhospitable nature of the Australian landscape, people living here take pride in hard work and overcoming adversity. Alongside this, Australians tend to have a sense of egalitarianism and a self-deprecating sense of humour because most can trace their family to humble beginnings, and this is often exhibited in a friendly, ‘mate-ish’ culture.
Cultural diversity in Australia
However, the country’s young age (compared to other nations) makes it hard to define uniquely Australian culture and traditions. Indeed, although the country has seen immigration from everywhere in the world, much of the culture remains influenced by the UK, which has, historically, provided the largest number of immigrants.
Food culture is a good example of British cultural influence in Australia. Early settlers imported livestock, whether looking for home comforts or finding the local animals unappealing. The result is that English staples like beef and lamb remain a key part of the Australian diet. And where there has been some fusion with other cuisines, for example from Southeast Asia, there remains little to differentiate it from UK food.
Languages spoken in Australia
The UK influence can also be heard in the languages spoken in Australia. Although there is no official language, in practice it is English. And although there are some small groups with a different first language, almost everyone will have some fluency in English for day-to-day life.
How to choose a university in Australia?
The right university is a very personal choice. Factors like the university’s reputation and subject choice will be important, but you should also consider things like the size and structure of the university. Although Australia has relatively few universities when compared to some other countries, it’s worth creating your own choosing-a-university checklist to make sure you are considering everything that’s important to you.
Here are a few suggestions for what to include:
- Think about the subject or field that you want to study or research. Although most Australian universities offer a full range of subjects, some do have some specialism and are members of networks like the Australian Technology Network or the Innovative Research Universities network. This can help you create a shortlist.
- Think about the student and living experience you want. Unlike many countries, Australia does not have a city or cities that dominate culture or specific sectors. However, nine out of ten people live in urban areas, which tend to be along the eastern and southern coasts. If you are looking for a beach, you are in luck! But if you would prefer a more campus-based experience, then you might want to consider universities like some of those in the Verdant University League, which have campuses built alongside unspoilt bushland and nature reserves.
- Think about the cost of living. Unfortunately, Australia is often listed as one of the world’s most expensive countries. But the expenses you incur will vary depending on where you study. Studying and living in central Sydney will be pricier than living on campus at a regional university.
- Consider the cultural experience you want. Australia remains a country that has high-levels of immigration: around one-third of the population are immigrants. However, this is not reflected in diversity, since the vast majority are from countries like the UK or New Zealand. While each university will have an international community, most immigrants tend to reside in the larger cities.
What are the best universities in Australia
What makes a university ‘the best’ is a matter for debate, but the Times Higher Education ranking for 2023 suggests that the top five are:
- University of Melbourne. Australia’s second-oldest university, it has also produced more Nobel Laureates than any other Australian university and is arguably the country’s leading research university.
- Monash University. Another leading research university, Monash is the only Australian member of the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers, Universities and National Academies. Its world-leading research resulted in the first IVF pregnancy, the development of antiviral drugs, and the breakthroughs in stem cell research.
- The University of Queensland. Offering a strong research focus, the university has over one hundred research centres and institutes, with many focusing no medicine and technology.
- University of Sydney. A consistently high-ranking university, both in Australia and globally, the University of Sydney is particularly strong in arts and humanities, and social science and business subjects. QS ranks it as the fourth most employable university in the world.
- Australian National University. Organised into colleges that lead teaching and research, one is the Asia and the Pacific college, making it a world-leading centre for study and research into the history, culture, and policy of the Pacific region.
>>> Click here for the full list of university rankings in Australia.
What are the top student hubs in Australia?
Melbourne tops the league in the QS rankings of student cities, coming fifth in the world thanks to its high student satisfaction scores. For international students, Melbourne is perhaps Australia’s most diverse city, with approximately 94,000 international students.
Second (and ninth in the world), is Sydney. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sydney’s cosmopolitan outlook, combined with a concentration of Australia’s best universities, makes it an attractive destination for any student.
However, Australia, unlike most other countries, is notable for not having a dominant set of cities. And this perhaps explains why a further five Australian cities — Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, and Gold Coast — make a total of seven in the QS world top hundred best cities for international students.
Tuition Fees in Australia
Education in most of the world is expensive and, sadly, Australia is no exception. Fees vary between universities and courses, but the Australian government’s Study Australia website offers a single place to get an overview of the courses available and their costs.
For both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, fees range between AU $12,000 to as much as AU $65,000 a year. Typically, most are between AU $25,000 and AU $35,000 a year. Fees are broadly the same for both on-campus and online options.
Domestic students, which includes not just Australians, but also New Zealanders, pay significantly lower fees. Students are required to contribute to their tuition, which is based on ability to pay and capped. It means that some students will not have to make any contribution, but no one will pay more than the maximum.
The government caps vary to encourage students to study subjects where there are more employment opportunities. Law degrees, for example, have the highest cap at more than AU $15,000. However, for subjects like agriculture or nursing, the contribution will be just over AU $4,000.
Like most places, there will be incidental costs that the student will be expected to meet, such as books and equipment. However, Australia also requires students to take out health insurance with an approved provider, which typically costs around AU $50 a month. However, students from New Zealand and some European countries can gain an exemption because of reciprocal healthcare arrangements.
>>>Use the ‘Tuition fee’ filter on the left menu of our Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD search pages to find the programme best suited for your budget. You can also sort the list of available programmes by Lowest tuition fee by clicking the top right Sort button.
Can I study in Australia for free?
Although some countries do offer free education, they are becoming increasingly rare and usually targeted to domestic students or areas where there is a skills shortage. Sadly, there is no free education in Australia for international students.
Australian and New Zealander applicants will have their course significantly discounted, although their maximum contribution can still be sizeable. However, there is a range of financial assistance packages available, ranging from a reduced contribution for families with lower incomes, to support to access education for those from Aboriginal or regional communities.But there might still be a way to cover your costs. If you want to know how to study in Australia for free, you need to look for ways to cover your tuition costs and Australia has a range of grants, scholarships, and bursaries available for international students.
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Australia
The aid you can access will depend on where you are from, your status and where you are studying. But regardless of your situation, there will be options available for you. However, if funding is an issue, it’s well worth investigating the scholarship options before you apply. Not only might it affect your choice of university, but some are only open before you have secured a place at a university.
>>>We have compiled a list of over 1,500 scholarships that you can apply for when you are studying in Australia.
Types of scholarships on offer
There are a range of awards available, including those awarded based on your academic ability or financial means, and as both grants and loans. Our article on the different types of scholarships and how to apply will help begin your search.
You should always check the eligibility criteria, but, typically, there is no limit to the number that you can apply for (although they are likely to place limits on how many you can accept!) so it’s sensible to apply for several. It is far better to have too many options than none.
Where you can find scholarships
Our ScholarshipsPortal.com is a great place to start. It lists over 1,500 scholarships from both universities and outside bodies that offer support to students in Australia.
The Australian government’s scholarships page is also a useful resource, containing details of the scholarships that are organised by or with relevant departments.
Finally, check with universities that you are interested in. All universities will have a range of scholarships and bursaries amiable for students, and you might be the ideal candidate not just for a course, but also for one of their bursaries.
How to apply
Once you’ve done your research and identified the scholarships that you are interested in, it’s time to complete the applications. Remember that most are competitive, so there’s no guarantee that, however good a match you think you are, that you will be successful. It’s sensible to apply for more than you need.
The following steps are a useful guide for making your applications:
- Check the eligibility criteria and make sure you meet all the requirements. These might include your academic record, nationality, age, subject, even your family background. Every scholarship will have many applications, so if you don’t fully meet the criteria, even if you think you are close, don’t waste your time applying.
- Gather all the documents you require. Each scholarship will detail the evidence they require for your application. While you might be lucky if you forget something and get a chance to submit that forgotten transcript or statement, it will usually mean your application is rejected.
- Complete the application. These may have different formats, ranging from simple forms to personal statements. Whatever the format, take the time to get someone to check the form. Someone like a tutor will be ideal since, even if they do not administer scholarships, they will have an idea of the sort of things the scheme will be looking for.
- Send your application! This might seem like a simple step, but one that is often missed as people delay while they review and revise their form. Set yourself an application deadline that is before the actual deadline to make sure you get it all sent off in good time.
- Wait for the response. This might be a tense period, but you will need patience. Depending on the scheme, you might have to attend an interview or provide additional evidence. If you will have to attend an interview, use this time to take a look at our advice on how to do well.
- Accept the offer. The best part, but make sure you don’t just accept. There will be terms and conditions that you should make sure you fully understand and can meet before you accept. And if you have other applications that are not decided yet, you might want to wait to make sure you commit to the best option available to you.
What to include in your application
Each scheme will state what they want to see from you and the format they require it in. However, they will always want to know why you are applying for financial aid and how it will help you meet your academic goals. This will usually be requested in the form of a personal statement or a letter of motivation. Like any application you make in your career, while the underlying reasons may be the same, it’s worth personalising your applications, so they are relevant to the scheme you are applying to.
Other information that applications are likely to require are:
- Personal information, this might be simple factual information, but some schemes may be interested in your family background, for example if they are targeting first-generation students.
- Your academic history, such as certificates or transcripts.
- Letters of recommendation, which might be provided by teachers, tutors, or employers.
- Financial information, which can establish your need for financial aid.
- Supporting materials, this might be a portfolio of your previous work, or an essay required for the scholarship to demonstrate your abilities.
Interested in scholarships for Australia? Check out our scholarship search page.
Apply to university in Australia
For domestic students, applications to universities are done through a number of state-based central admissions systems, for example, the Victoria Tertiary Admissions Centre for universities in Victoria or the Universities Admissions Centre in New South Wales and ACT. Although there are differences between each scheme, candidates can make multiple applications, listing universities by preference in each, meaning they are able — with just a handful of formal applications — to apply to dozens of universities.
Unfortunately, international students, regardless of the level of course they are seeking, are not included in the process. Instead, international students have to apply directly, and individually, to each institution.
How to apply
Exactly how you apply for university in Australia will depend on the institution. Each university has its own application process. While these are all very similar, there may be slight differences between each, so make sure you carefully check the requirements of everywhere that you want to apply. Missing a deadline or a crucial document could make the difference between getting your dream course and having to settle for something else.
Typically, the application process is completed entirely via the university's website, and most have a useful guide, so you know exactly how to apply to a university online before you start.
Assuming you have already identified the course you want to study, the first thing to check will be that you are eligible to apply. The eligibility criteria will be listed on your course page and typically include having a recognised qualification and meeting the English proficiency requirement. You will need to evidence that you meet these in your application.
You will also need to submit a range of documents as an international student. These will, obviously, include your academic records, but also some personal documents, such a copy of your passport and documents attesting to your identity. In some circumstances, universities may also be required to confirm your eligibility to enter Australia.
How much does it cost
While you do not have course fees to pay before you apply to university, you will often be required to confirm that you understand the fee structure and will pay when required. Some scholarships are not available after you have applied and accepted a place, so make sure you are clear that you have the finances in place before you apply.
Finally, although you do not have to pay course fees, you do have to pay to apply to university, more specifically, you will be charged an application processing fee. This fee is levied by almost every university and is usually between AU $50 to AU $150.
How many times can you apply
As an international student, you do not have a limit on your applications, so you can apply to more than one university at the same time, or even multiple courses at the same university. However, the application processing fee is likely to be your limiting factor, along with the time taken for each application, so you are likely to want to focus your applications to those where you really want to study and have a reasonable chance of success.
What’s the structure of the Australian academic year
Australia’s academic year is similar to many other Western universities and operates a semester-based year.
- Undergraduate degrees are typically three years, or four years for an honours degree. Postgraduate degrees are one or two years for a Masters, and three for a PhD.
- Most universities have two semesters a year (although a few operate with three trimesters)
- The academic year starts in March.
- Many universities and courses offer two starts a year, but not all, so check if you want a September start.
When to apply for Australian universities
Because international students apply directly, and most universities offer two starts a year, applications are almost always open for international students. Check with the university, though, since some do close applications at specific periods, or have courses that only offer a single intake a year.
Generally, the deadline to apply for university depends on the preferred start date. For those hoping to start in the first semester, applications must typically be made by December at the latest, while second semester starts should apply by the preceding May.
However, it’s sensible to apply as early as possible. Many universities will process applications quickly, and if you are not accepted, that means you have more time to consider and apply to alternatives.
Documents needed to apply for university
Typically, Australian universities will ask for the same documents needed to apply for university anywhere. These will include:
- a copy of your passport
- copies of relevant qualifications
- evidence that you meet the language requirements for the course
- evidence of any scholarship you are receiving
- a reference or letter of recommendation from a school or tutor
- evidence of any additional requirements listed for the course
In some cases, you may have to provide additional evidence of your right to enter Australia. And if your documents are not in English, you will also have to provide a translation provided the issuing body or a government-certified translator.
As an English-speaking country, all courses in Australian universities are delivered in English. You will therefore have to demonstrate fluency. Either by being a native English speaker or having passed English language tests.
Individual universities and even courses may have their own requirements. However, most major English language tests are recognised and accepted.
- IELTS. This test scores between 0 and 9 for listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English. A typical requirement will be an overall score of at least 6.5, with no individual skill below 6.
- TOEFL-IBT. Like IELTS, the TEEFL-IBT gives individual scores for listening, speaking, reading and writing, with a maximum of 30 in each category. You will usually need at least 85 overall, with minimums of 17-19 in each category.
- PTE Academic. This test gives scores for speaking, writing, listening and speaking, each with a maximum score of 90. Universities often ask for a score of around 60, with a minimum of 55 in each of the 4 skills.
Student housing in Australia
You will need somewhere to live while you are studying. The options available to you will depend on your university, its location, and your preferences.
- University provided accommodation. Many universities will have accommodation they manage for students. But few will have enough to house all their students, though, so it is often prioritised for particular groups, such as international students and first year undergraduates. Check with your university to see what they have on offer and how you can apply.
- Managed student accommodation. Privately run student accommodation is becoming increasingly common, especially in urban locations. These will typically include a room which shares communal facilities such as living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. They will usually include costs like energy and internet, some will even include things like servicing, or have canteens on site.
- Private renting or leasing. Although more common for the second year and after, when you have established friends with whom you can share, there are lots of sites that can help you find places to rent, often targeted at students.
When to apply for student accommodation
You can find out when to apply for university accommodation through your university website. However, if you are considering private options, it’s sensible to start looking as soon as you have confirmation of your place. There is usually a high demand for accommodation, especially in cities, where students can find themselves competing with everyone else to find somewhere to live.
Useful resources for finding accommodation
Cost of living in Australia
The cost of living can be subjective, and much will depend on your expectations. Students are often masters at living inexpensively in even the most expensive locations! However, most independent sources suggest that Australia is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, with a cost of living that is significantly higher than, say, the UK or USA.
The government’s Study Australia website provides a cost of living calculator that indicates the likely costs you will incur, even looking at the frugal lifestyles tends to suggest annual costs of around AU $20,000.
Perhaps predictably, the most expensive cost is accommodation, which can be more than AU $2,000 a month for an apartment in Sydney city centre. But even ‘cheap’ activities can be expensive, a typical meal in a low-cost restaurant will be around AU $25.
Cost of food in Australia
The cost of food in Australia, like everything else, is high when compared internationally. While the prices will vary depending on lifestyle — a vegetarian diet will be cheaper than a meat-eating diet — you can typically expect to spend around AU $500 a month on food, and significantly more if you eat out regularly.
Work and study in Australia
The Australian student visa allows students to work while they are in Australia. This can be useful whether you need the income to fund your studies, or simply want some extra cash to enjoy the experiences that the country has to offer.
Are international students allowed to work in Australia?
Working hours for international students in Australia are limited to 48 hours every two weeks during semesters, and unlimited during vacations. However, unlike some countries, there are no limits on where that work is, or what sector it is in. It means that students have a wide-range of job options.
Indeed, apart from the limit on working hours, student visa holders have the same benefits and work protection as any Australian, even having the right to start their own business.
Where can I find jobs?
The first place to start is with your university. Their career service will usually have a host of jobs that suitable for students, often from employers that are specifically looking for student employees.
>>> Read this article for Tips on Finding Part-Time Jobs for International Students, including ideas of how to get an internship or a work from home job for students.
Is Australia safe?
Australia is generally seen as a safe country. However, the question of whether Australia is safe, or safe for international students, will depend on exactly where in Australia the question is being asked. It is a vast country, and the dangers can vary dramatically.
Typically, crime in Australia is low, and it follows a similar pattern to other Western countries, being higher in urban areas and lower in rural areas, with the types of crime driven largely by opportunity.
However, safety is not just about crime. Many sites will warn travellers not against the dangers of theft or robbery, but to be aware of some of the dangerous plants and animals that inhabit parts of Australia!
Wherever you are, or whatever you are doing in Australia, simple common sense can keep you safe.
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are somewhere unfamiliar.
- Avoid dark areas where there are few people around.
- Be careful in busy areas, especially at night, when opportunities are created for thieves and pickpockets.
- Be careful when withdrawing cash from ATMs
- Remember the emergency number. Australia uses 000 for emergency services, but 112 can also be used from mobile phones.
Australia operates a mixed private-public healthcare system, providing free healthcare as needed to Australian citizens. However, many will also have health insurance to cover medical needs that are not available in the public system, or to provide extras if treated in the public system.
Most international students, however, will not be eligible for free healthcare. Unless they are from one of the countries that have a healthcare agreement with Australia — such as New Zealand and many European countries — they will need to have health insurance in place.
Take care when researching your insurance options, so you have the level of cover that is right for you. As well as being a requirement, healthcare can be very expensive. Even if you consider yourself fit and healthy, an accident or unexpected illness can result in a very large bill.
Student insurance in Australia
Overseas Student Health Cover is the only insurance that is mandatory for international students. Only approved insurers can provide this, and it is available in a range of covers, for example including additional benefits or covering a dependent family if they are travelling with you. Typically, you can expect to spend at least AU $500 a year for this, but you might be able to get cheaper quotes by shopping around or committing to multi-year cover with your insurer.
However, it’s also sensible to consider what other insurance you might need. Your circumstances will determine the type and level of cover that is appropriate for you. It is sensible to consider insurance for your possession, since things like your computer and even textbooks can be expensive to replace if stolen or damaged. But you might also want to consider other policies like renters’ insurance for college students or travel insurance if they are appropriate to you.
>>> Learn more about this by visiting our Student Insurance Portal
Support services available for international students
Your university or college will provide student support services, and almost certainly will have services dedicated to international students. Before the Covid-19 pandemic there were over half-a-million international students registered at Australian universities, and since the pandemic the number has been returning to that level. International students represent a major part of the education sector economy and, through that, the Australian economy.
As a result, the Australian government also operates its own international student service. While this is largely dedicated to ensuring that individual universities provide support, it offers its own resources, and can be an especially useful source of information whether you are thinking about Australia or are already there.
Most other resources are organised on a state level, so when you have a place, it’s worth researching the services that may be on offer to you in that state. However, it is worth noting that most statewide organisations prioritise the support they offer to students that cannot get support from their university.
Nationally, there is the Council of International Students Australia, which acts as a representative organisation for international students. However, most other student organisations are organised on a state, city, or university basis. An example is the Oz International Student Hub in Sydney. Some others are available for particular groups, such as the Asian International Students of Australia. Your university will be the best starting point to identify the organisations that best represent you.
Things to do for students on a budget
The high cost of living in Australia does not mean there is a shortage of things to do, even when money is tight. There are plenty of cheap and free things to do in Australia. But remember that Australia is vast, it’s not just the world’s sixth-largest country, it’s also the smallest continent! We’ve listed some ideas here and tried to pick things from different parts of the country, but a little research will find plenty of things for you to do wherever you are.
Top urban attractions for students
- Can you go to Australia without visiting Sydney Harbour? With the iconic sights of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge it’s one of the most recognisable views in the world. Free walking tours are available, so you can find out more about the buildings, or find your way to some of the area’s best food-and-drink spots.
- Melbourne has a rivalry with Sydney, and a Melbournian will be quick to assure you it’s the best city. It is a centre for art and culture, but if you want something different, head to the suburb of St Kilda, where you spot the penguins roosting at the end of the pier every night.
- Head to the Gold Coast, which is also well-known for the high-rise towers that loom over the golden beaches. If you can resist (or hate) the sand between your toes, the city offers everything you need for an urban escape, from retail therapy in glamorous malls, to adrenaline-fuelled fun in theme parks.
- Brisbane also lays claim to being an Australian cultural centre. It is the only place in Australia where you can spend a morning enjoying the culture of museums and galleries before heading to a man-made inner-city beach to relax on the sand!
- Perth is home to a large part of Australia’s history, and the port of Fremantle offers a range of attractions celebrating Australia’s maritime past, and Fremantle Prison, the state’s first jail.
Top 5 Outdoor Attractions
- Uluru is probably Australia’s most recognisable natural landmark. A large sandstone rock, it has enormous cultural significance for the Aboriginal people and visitors can no longer climb it. However, its size means it has to be seen to be appreciated, and it is an awe-inspiring and unforgettable sight even from ground level.
- The Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 1,400 miles off the coast of Queensland. The largest coral reef system in the world, it is even visible from space. Boat trips are available to visit the reef, while the more adventurous can try snorkelling or scuba diving to see parts of it close up.
- Litchfield National Park is a few hours from Darwin and showcases the stunning diversity of Australia. The forest contains a series of pools and waterfalls that are popular spots for people to take a dip.
- Lake Hillier, on the West Coast, is perhaps the most famous of the pink lakes. The water takes on a pink hue believed to be caused by organisms in it (and making it a subject of ongoing research). It is especially vibrant when viewed from overhead, and several companies offer tourist flights.
- The Great Ocean Road is an ideal way to not just take in Australia’s beauty, but also enjoy a fantastic road-trip. Around 150 miles long, it is easily travelled in a day, but with delightful seaside towns, the opportunity to see some of Australia’s more unusual wildlife, like the platypus, and sights like the Twelve Apostles, it can easily be a multi-day road-trip.
Travelling in AustraliaAustralia’s size means that there are two types of travel, local, or long-distance! People often underestimate how far apart destinations are in Australia. Flying from the east to west coasts, for example, will take over five hours on a plane, plus all the time at the airport. And tourist sites are often advertised in the number of hours they are from the nearest city. It means that if you want to see all of Australia, and being a student offers the ideal opportunity to explore, then you might be spending a lot of time on internal flights. If you are travelling on a budget, then planning ahead is wise, and allows you to benefit from schemes like Qantas Explorer, which can be an effective way to save on multi-hop trips. Alternatively, check sites like Student Universe which can have good deals for students making travel bookings. When you are in cities, however, it is an entirely different story. Most Australian cities are very walkable, especially in central areas, and often you can get by on foot or with a bike. And, if not, local transit systems are comprehensive and efficient. Every major city has an integrated transport network usually combined buses and trains. You can usually get student travel discounts on season tickets if you are travelling regularly.
Being an English-speaking nation is a great advantage to international students because there is no shortage of opportunities to practice, even before you get there. If you are not from an English-speaking country, you will almost certainly know English-speakers that can help you. But there are plenty of other ways to practice.
- Try watching English TV shows and movies, with subtitles if you need.
- Download English podcasts, some are designed for various levels of English fluency, so you can practice listening to English speakers
- Read English books, newspapers, or websites.
- Use apps like Duolingo.
Living as an expat in Australia
After you have finished your studies in Australia, you might decide that you want to stay there. If you do, you want be alone, a lot of the expats in Australia never intended to stay, until they fell in love with the country.
However, your student visa stops being valid when your course ends, so you will have to apply for a new or different visa. Australia is very strict about immigration, so if you want to remain in the country, it’s worth preparing well before you graduate.
Expat communities in Australia
Australia has an incredibly large expatriate community, with more than one-in-four Australian residents born elsewhere. However, it is not necessarily the most diverse group of expatriates: over a million of them are from the UK, attracted by a Western culture, common language, and significantly better weather than at home!
However, there are still plenty of communities from across the world living in Australia. After the UK, the largest foreign-born populations are from India (around 700,000 people), China (approximately 600,000), and New Zealand (560,000). According to the most recent Australian census, there are sixteen countries that have a population of more than 100,000 people living in Australia.
The largest foreign-born populations are found in the cities, with Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth having the largest populations.
Australia Immigration rules
How your immigration status changes after graduation
Your student visa is only valid for the duration of the course you applied for, to a maximum of five years. When your course finishes, or five years have passed, you must apply for a new visa to remain in Australia.
The Australian immigration process does have many options, though, and it’s likely there will be a suitable visa that you can apply for. However, although the Australian student visa immigration process is quite straightforward, the rules for other visas can be complex, even considering factors like whether you studied at a rural university. It’s worth taking the time to identify the right visa for you.
Types of Visa
Australia’s immigration and citizenship service lists over 70 types of visa, but for international students who are about to graduate, the most important ones are likely to be those in the ‘working and skilled visa’ category.
For those who have a job, it may be possible to obtain a visa sponsored by an employer. However, for others, the Temporary Graduate visa allows graduates from Australian universities to remain in the country for between two and four years, depending on the qualification. Those who graduated from a regional university can apply for a follow-on visa, which will give them another one to two years.
Immigration processing times
Processing times and costs for visas will vary depending on the type of visa requested. A graduate visa costs AU $1,730, and around half of applications are granted within four months. However, official statistics state that 10% take longer than 15 months, so you should plan well ahead if you want to remain after your course finishes.
Job opportunities in Australia
The Australian economy is one of the world’s largest and typically has low overall unemployment rates and high employment rates for professionals. It makes it a great place for graduates to seek work. Most graduate and postgraduate level jobs will tend to be focused in and around cities, and as a developed economy will have a similar mix of job-types as elsewhere.
However, do bear in mind Australia’s immigration rules. These can limit job opportunities in Australia for foreigners because it can be harder to secure a visa. Those with qualifications that match identified shortages within Australia, such as engineering, will find it a lot easier to get a visa since they can apply for a skilled worker visa. Others might be reliant on having, or finding, an employer that will sponsor them to enter the country.
If you are looking for graduate work in Australia why not try:
Continue your studies in Australia
If you are coming towards the end of your course and are keen to continue studying, there are plenty of options. Remember, though, that you will need a new student visa, and if you are already in Australia, you will have to apply before your previous visa expires or leave the country.
One thing to note is that, generally, you can only apply for a student visa to study at the same or higher Australian Qualification Framework level than you have previously been granted. The exception to this is at the very top, when you can apply for a student visa to undertake further Master’s level study after a PhD. A bachelor’s degree is level seven.
- A postgraduate certificate or diploma. Although often seen as around the same level as a degree academically, these are at level eight on the AQF. They are typically more specialised and often a prerequisite for some careers.
- A Master’s degree. Sitting at level nine on the AQF, if you already have a Bachelor’s degree, or sometimes have relevant life and career experience, you might consider applying for a masters’ degree. We list over 3,300 Master’s degrees in Australia.
- A doctorate. A doctor of philosophy (PhD) is the highest-level qualification you can get — level ten on the AQF — and usually takes at least three years of original research, which should add to the sum of human knowledge. We list over 180 PhDs offered by Australian universities.
Frequently asked questions
1. Do international students need a visa to study in Australia?
Yes, international students need a visa to study in Australia. The Student visa (subclass 500) lets you remain for up to five years while your course lasts, allows you to work while in Australia, and entitles a partner and dependents to apply for a visa to join you.
2. Is studying in Australia worth it?
Australia has some of the world’s best universities, as well as some of the world’s best student cities. With plenty of scholarship opportunities, and the potential to remain in Australia with a graduate visa, it’s a very attractive option for more than half-a-million international students every year.
3. What is the cost of studying in Australia?
Fees vary between universities and courses. However, they are typically between AU $25,000 and AU $35,000 a year, although some specialist subjects can be as much as AU $65,000.
4. How much money is required to study in Australia?
Australia has a high cost of living. You can expect, even with a frugal lifestyle, to need at least AU $20,000 a year.
5. Can I study in Australia without IELTS?
You will need to demonstrate enough fluency in English to cope with your course. If you’re educated in an English-speaking country, this may not be necessary. Alternatively, all universities accept PTE Academic and most also accept TOEFL-IBT.
6. What are the requirements to study in Australia?
You will need to have secured a place at a recognised institution through their application process. Once you have this, you must apply for a student visa to allow you to travel to Australia.
7. What exams are required to study in Australia?
The exact exams and results will vary between courses and universities. For undergraduate courses, these will be the equivalent of Australia’s secondary education certificate (which itself varies between states), such as A-levels, International or European Baccalaureate or the American SAT. For postgraduate courses, it will be a relevant undergraduate qualification.