If you’re thinking about going to study in Australia, here are lots of things you should know. Our recommendations outline how to go about studying as an international student in Australia, from applying for a course and visa, through to finances and general tips for living down under.
1. Know When to Apply
If you are keen on the idea of studying in Australia aim to apply to universities several months before the school term begins, so you have time to apply, be accepted, and get everything else organized. Generally, Australian universities split their academic years into two semesters of about four months each.
The first semester runs from February to May. The second semester runs from August to November. You can find out the application deadlines and start dates from individual university and college websites.
2. You’ll Need a Student Visa
An academic stay of any more than three months in Australia is done on a student visa. These are quite easy to get after you’ve been accepted into your course, depending on which country you’re from. You can apply for one online. You’ll need to supply certified copies (stamped copies by an authorized person) of important documents, such as the letter of offer from the course provider.
3. You Have Options for Where to Study
At approximately 7,700,000 sq km, Australia is one of the largest countries in the world – and a continent in itself. As such, there’s variety in the environments where you can study abroad. You can choose to attend a university or college in an urban environment or a rural one.
Feel free to compare universities and look beyond just Melbourne and Sydney (which tend be more expensive places to study). You can also choose whether you want a school that’s by the coast or in the country.
4. Financial Aid Opportunities are Limited
Financial aid for international students at Australian universities is limited compared to American and Canadian institutions. While it might be worth applying for scholarships, realistically, you should expect to cover all costs yourself.
5. You Can Work While Studying
A student visa entitles you to work in Australia, for up to 40 hours per fortnight. International students can take advantage of this, though competition for jobs when schools are not in session is quite high. Part-time jobs for students are rewarding since Australia has one of the highest minimum wages in the world. You might also want to consider volunteering in Australia which can be a rewarding experience in your spare time.
6. Living Costs are High
Life is quite expensive in Australia, on top of significant tuition fees especially compared to going to study in New Zealand for example. The cities of Sydney and Melbourne almost always have a spot in many 'Most Expensive Cities' lists. Studio apartments in Australia cost as much as two bedroom apartments in many other countries. Meals and travel expenses are also relatively expensive compared to many other countries. Make sure that you have adequate financial backing to live comfortably in Australia.
7. Forget the Stereotypes
Crocodile Dundee and many Hollywood movies have gone a long way in giving people stereotypes about Australia. To adapt to life in Australia quickly, you’ll need to learn the real country. For starters, you’ll not always meet kangaroos on your way to school and do not call every girl you meet 'sheila'. You can, however, say 'g’day mate' to everyone you meet on the streets. Most local people you encounter will be very friendly and helpful.
8. Sightseeing During Term Breaks
Many international students who plan on travelling in Australia schedules such trips almost as soon as they land in the country. It’s advisable to plan such trips at the end of the semester. During this time, you will have met friends who plan on doing the same. Travelling in groups is always less expensive and more fun than travelling alone. You might also want to search group tours of Australia where you can visit multiple destinations in the country.
9. Read Up on Road Rules
International students in Australia may choose to hire cars over school holidays to travel across parts of the country. You can, however, find yourself on the wrong side of the law for violating traffic rules. One of the first things that you should know is that Australians drive on the left side of the road. Also, driving while using your mobile phone is disallowed. You may also want to avoid driving in the country at dusk, dawn or even in the middle of the night. Many animal-related accidents occur on Australian roads every day.
10. Learn the Grading System
Australia has a unique academic grading system. Do not panic when you get a ‘D’. That's actually a very good grade by Australian standards. Many Australian universities grade their tests as HD (high distinction), D (distinction), C (credit), P (pass) or F (fail).