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Studying abroad: Australia

Australia has long been a favourite for British students seeking out sun, sea and spectacular wildlife. But the crystal blue-tides are turning and something is happening: more students are realising that Australia isn’t just for travel, but study too!


Studying in Australia

Australia is the 3rd most popular English-speaking country for international students – 20% of all students in the country are international so you’d be in good company. Like in the UK, Bachelor’s degrees are three years in length. The qualifications, skills and expertise obtained will grant students the ability move around the globe, pursuing careers with elite companies and organisations. 

There are over 20,000 courses to choose from, across over 1,000 institutions so students are spoilt for choice. While Australia has a particularly strong reputation in the technology and science fields, the close proximity to China, Japan and Indonesia has made Australia a particularly strong destination for international business, East Asian languages, and combinations of the two. Meanwhile, the close relationships with these countries – particularly the rapidly-growing powerhouse of China - promise a bright future for graduates.

Five Australian universities made the Times Higher Education World University rankings 2014/2015: University of Melbourne (33rd), Australian National University (45th), University of Sydney (60th), University of Queensland (65th), Monash University (83rd).

Applying to university in Australia

Once you have found a course you want to apply to, you’ll need to apply to the university directly. Their website should have a section just for international students explaining everything you need to do. This should be your first destination while there will also be information about how to get in touch if you have any queries or questions.

The Australian academic calendar is slightly different to the UK’s with two different intakes in a year: one in February and one in July. You can choose to apply to either though they’ll have different application cycles – make sure you take note of the correct application deadlines for the intake you wish to enter.

When applying for your student visa, things may look a little complicated because there are various subclasses but don’t be intimidated. The one you need to apply for is the Higher Education Sector Visa (subclass 573) which is for those studying a bachelor’s degree. This costs around $535. To apply you’ll need an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment certificate from your university; to demonstrate you have the funds to pay for your tuition fees and support yourself; and proof that you have Overseas Student Health Cover (i.e. health insurance, which is a requirement of all international students). You may also have to demonstrate that you are of “good character” i.e. you haven’t been charged with any criminal offences in the past.

You can learn more about applying for a student visa on the Australian Government’s official website.

Costs of studying in Australia

Your tuition fees are determined by the course you study. Arts subjects like languages are significantly cheaper than STEM subjects like physics, though graduates in the latter are in high demand around the world. As an undergraduate, you’ll be paying anything between $15,000-$33,000 AUS a year in fees (around £9,000-£15,300).

Australian universities estimate that rent, food, travel and utilities all add up to around $23,000 AUS (around £12,500) per year. Some cities are more expensive to live in than others, particularly hot tourist centres like Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. That you have access to $18,610 AUS in funds is one of the requirements when you apply for your student visa. 

Fortunately you are allowed to work part-time to support your studies according to the terms of a subclass 573 visa. This is tremendous news for you because there are loads of opportunities for part-time work in bars, restaurants and cafes across the country. Did you know that cities like Melbourne have quite the café culture? During term time you can work up to 40 hours per week while outside of term you can work unlimited hours.

Scholarships in Australia

Australia annually sets aside £250 million of scholarships for international students every year because they recognise how much they contribute. You should definitely find out whether the university you are applying to offers any. If they don’t, you should look into the Australia Awards and Endeavour Awards; these are merit-based fellowships and scholarships to support international students in the country though they are highly competitive. 

Life in Australia

Australians have a reputation for being laid back and jovial which is pretty much spot on (though you shouldn’t take a lax attitude to your studies). There are a lot of similarities in their humour and the ways they interact with one another when compared to the British which means you should make lots of friends pretty easily.

The weather is beautiful all year round making every day a potential beach or BBQ day (locally referred to as a “barbie”). As a result you’ll notice that the pace of life in Australia is very different to that in the UK where the weather often puts a damper on spirits. And while a sunny Christmas season might be a little strange at first, it has to be done at least once in a lifetime.

There’s so much to do and see in Australia too which is why it’s a popular travel destination amongst students. Uluru, Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Philip Island (home to the world famous Penguin Parade)…Australia is ideal for those who like being outdoors and always doing something. Your Instagram snaps will make your friends utterly jealous (no filter needed at all)! And don’t worry; while Australia has a bit of a reputation for being home to a thousand creepy crawlies and beasts that will kill you, it is blown out of proportion.

Oh and you don’t have to say “G’day” to everyone; a simple “Hi” will do.

Study in Australia – Official Government site
Study Options - service for UK students applying to Australia and New Zealand

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