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How to Study in Australia as an International Student

If you have decided to study abroad in Australia, you are about to embark on an exciting and life-changing journey. Not only will you further your education in a country that is renowned for its world-class education, but you’ll also experience a new culture, enter a fresh job market, and make new friends. Before you can start this next chapter of your life, there are a few things you’ll need to do to make your dream of studying in Australia a reality.

From choosing your course to lodging your student visa application, here is a breakdown of the key steps you need to follow and information you need to know to study in Australia as an international student. 

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Explore your study options

The first step in pursuing your studies in Australia is choosing which type of study you want to follow. One of the best things about studying in Australia is that you have lots of options available.

In Adelaide, for example, you can pursue an educational pathway, study at an Australian university, or opt for vocational education training (VET) at a college, which provides more hands-on, practical learning.

In the Australian higher education system, there are also many fields of study you can specialise in. With hundreds of institutions and thousands of courses to choose from, you can get a degree in just about anything from arts to engineering to medicine. No matter what you choose to study, Australian institutions can help prepare you for success.

Be sure to research the various study options and areas of study available across Australian institutions to get a sense of which would be the best fit for you and your goals.

Choose and apply to institutions

Once you’ve decided what kind of study format and field of study you want to pursue, the next step is to choose an institution.

If you’re planning on attending a university, you can even see how universities in Australia rank globally, which may help you make your decision. Many of Australia’s universities – including some right here in Adelaide – are considered world-class, with several holding top positions in various global rankings systems.

Once you have narrowed down which institutions you would like to apply to, start researching the application deadlines and requirements for each one. In most cases, you will be required to create an account on each institution’s online portal, upload your documents, and submit your application through that site.

Applying for a student visa

To study in Australia as an international student, you must hold a valid student visa (subclass 500) for the duration of your studies. This means that you’ll need to apply for your visa online before you begin your studies. You can lodge your application inside or outside of Australia.

The main requirements to lodge this visa application include:

  • A Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE certificate) from your institution
  • Meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
  • Proof of sufficient funds (read on to find out more about this)
  • Proof of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your studies, unless you fall into one of the exemption categories
  • Demonstrate English proficiency
  • Meet health and character requirements

Some important things to note about this visa:

  • This visa is valid for up to five years in alignment with your course
  • You are legally allowed to work in Australia while studying for up to 40 hours per fortnight unless you are pursuing a masters by research or a doctorate. Students in these programs can work unlimited hours as long as they are meeting their course requirements
  • You can bring eligible family members with you to Australia

If you need assistance with the visa application process, you can consult an education agent (sometimes known as a study abroad consultant). Education agents (also known as study abroad consultants) are professionals with up-to-date information on Australian institutions’ requirements and visa policies. Many of them have lived experience as international students, so they are well-equipped to answer your questions.

Budget appropriately

To be eligible to study in Australia, you need to prove that you have enough money to cover your airfare, course fees and living costs. The exact amounts will depend on the type of schooling you choose (i.e. university pathway, vocational education or university), the institution, your level of study, and your course.

Tuition fees vary between educational institutions. In 2018, the average international student tuition cost was roughly AU$30,840 per year at the undergraduate level. For postgraduate programs, the cost was about AU$31,596 per year. It’s important to note, however, that these cost estimates do not include high-value courses, such as medicine, which can cost more. 

In addition to tuition costs, international students must also consider visa costs, cost of living, and health cover costs. The cost of a student visa is from AU$620 unless you fall into one of the exemption categories.

As part of your visa application process, you must provide proof that you have at least AUD$21,041 for living costs per year. Living costs include weekly expenses such as rent, gas and electricity bills, phone and internet, groceries, public transport, and entertainment. Adelaide happens to be one of the most affordable capital cities in Australia, making it a good choice if you’re looking to keep costs down.

It is also a condition of your student visa that you have health insurance. Specifically, you must hold Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your stay in Australia. Currently, the cheapest option for a three-year undergraduate program with no accompanying family members is around AU$2,149.10 for the entire duration. OSHC costs vary depending on the provider, your length of stay, and your personal circumstances.

Fund your studies

There are several scholarships and grants that can help fund your studies.  In Adelaide, there are institution scholarships and Australian Government scholarships available. These scholarships and grants are provided by top universities in Australia, the government, individuals, organisations, and NGOs to help ease the burden of financial stress on international students. They are typically awarded on the basis of financial need, academic merit, and/or some other form of high achievement.

Organise accommodation

Once you know for sure that you’re coming to Australia, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to live. It’s typically best to organise your accommodation before you arrive in Australia because it will give you peace of mind knowing you have a roof over your head from the moment you land.

There are several types of accommodation to choose from as an international student, including homestay, managed student accommodation (i.e. residential colleges or commercial accommodation), or private rentals. To secure your housing, consult your institution’s website for accommodation options.  Adelaide Student Housing provides a complete list of student accommodation options in Adelaide.

When it comes to studying abroad, there’s a lot of planning involved. While it may feel overwhelming at first, it will all be worth it once you see your dream of studying in Australia become a reality.

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