Australia is one of the most popular study destinations in the world, hosting more than 600,000 international students per year. Studying in Australia require some organisation and a sizeable budget. Indeed, tuition fees and everyday living costs are quite high and need to be considered when planning to study abroad. You must therefore plan your budget in advance to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Before you depart from your home country, make sure to consider all the expenses to prepare financially. Here is an overview of what it costs to study and live in Australia.
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Tuition Fees: an important budget
You can study at all levels of education from primary and secondary school, to vocational education and training (VET), from English language courses to higher education (including universities). You should be aware that the costs of studying will depend on your education provider, the level of study you choose and the city where you’ll be studying. If you’ve ever checked the web pages of the university or school of your dreams, you’ve probably already noticed the budget you need to cover your tuition fees. First of all, it is important to make sure that your chosen course is available for international students. Indeed, the tuition fees are different for Australian and foreign students.
Tuition fees and course costs
Study in Australia, is the official government site for international students. It gives you a broad indication of the range of course costs (yearly) for different types of qualifications
- School – $7,800 to $30,000
- English language studies – Around $300 per week depending on course length
- Vocational Education and Training (Certificates I to IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma) – $4,000 to $22,000
- Undergraduate Bachelor Degree – $20,000 to $45,000*
- Postgraduate Masters Degree – $22,000 to $50,000*
- Doctoral Degree – $18,000 to $42,000*
* Note: This does not include high cost of delivery courses such as veterinary and medical. Please visit institution websites directly to see costs for these courses.
Australian universities are world-renowned and the fees are very high. If you want to go to one of the top universities (Group of 8) the fees are usually around $25,000 per year. You will find the school fees that concern you in the “International Student Fees” category.
Other school related expenses
On top of the tuition fees, you will have other expenses linked to your studies. Here is an overview of those:
If English is not your first language, a compulsory English level test is required when enrolling in most establishments (except language schools). It costs around $395 and is valid for 2 years. If English is your first language, you need to have citizenship or permanent residency and completed secondary or higher education (tertiary) studies in an English-speaking country for most of universities. Check the website of the university of your choice to see their specific requirements.
It is a condition of your student visa that you have Overseas Student Health Cover for the duration of your student visa. You must provide evidence of your health cover when you apply for your student visa. It costs approximately $400 per year. Depending on your home country, you may need to consider adding a private health insurance on top of the OSHC which only covers basic services.
You will also have to add the costs related to your studies such as books, photocopies, supplies etc. Count around $200 to $300 per semester. To manage this budget, you can buy second-hand books or go to specialized student bookstores that offer better prices. You can also purchase digital versions of the books. Another option is to borrow books from your school library (usually for a renewable month).
Student visa costs
The fee for the Student Visa (Subclass 500) currently stands at $650 (March 2023). The Department of Home Affairs also has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa.
With a student visa, you can study for up to 5 years at a recognised higher education institution.
From enrolment to getting a Student Visa, the budget is already substantial, which is why it is important to prepare well in advance before deciding to enrol in an Australian institution.
Plan your budget ahead
Summer jobs, “Gap Year”, loans, help from loved ones, there are many options available to you to prepare your budget. Also check with your city, region to see if there are scholarships available to help you finance your studies.
Payment methods for schools
Some universities or school fees are payable per semester. It means you will not have to pay the entire tuition fee at once. You should check with the institution of your choice in advance. In all cases, you will need to be enrolled and therefore have paid your fees to be able to apply for a student visa.
Travel and transport costs
On top of the budget required to cover the costs of studies, you will need to set aside a budget to cover the travel costs and everyday life transportation. This includes:
Airline tickets: around $1100 one way
Public transport: First from the airport to the city ($25). Then everyday transport to get to your institution if necessary. You can cover short distances with trams, trains or buses. A ticket costs you around $3.50. You should get a weekly or monthly pass to save some money. Depending on your ‘zone’ of travel, it will cost you between $20 to $55 per week. You can also benefit from student concessions available in all states.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Australia will vary depending on your lifestyle and the city you are studying. The Australian Government requires students to have access to approximately $21,000 per year to meet living costs.
Here is a breakdown of the living costs per week:
- Groceries and eating out: $80 to $280
- Gas, electricity: $20 to $50
- Phone and Internet: $20 to $55
- Entertainment: $80 to $150
- On-campus accommodation: $166 to $208
- Off-campus accommodation: $160 to $450
- Homestay: $200 to $280 per week
Most Australian universities provide breakdowns of the cost of living in Australia on their websites, you should check your institution’s site.
You also have to think about the trips you are going to plan. Remember that going to the other side of the world is an experience not to be missed. Many start with a budget in mind but quickly indulge in all that there is to do in Australia.
All of these expenses can be difficult to save in advance, which is why the majority of students plan to work alongside their studies once in Australia. Many save before leaving to cover the first few months.
Working on a Student Visa
In Australia, work and study are easily compatible and allow better budget management to cover your daily expenses. As an international student, you can work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the teaching period. You can work unrestricted hours during course break. Be aware, however, that it is not possible to work before the start of your school year.
You will to plan your schedule to be able to work during your free hours after / before your study hours. It is easy to find a job offering less than 20 hours a week. Indded casual jobs being very common in Australia. The majority of students turn to cafes, bars, restaurants, fast food, supermarkets, etc. as these positions are flexible with student schedules.
You can find work advertised on the employment notice boards on universities campus. You can also contact the Careers and Employment Service of your faculty.
Financing your studies once in Australia
In Australia, work and study are easily compatible. This allows you to better manage your budget to cover your daily expenses. With your student visa, you are allowed to work 40 hours / 2 weeks, or about 20 hours per week. You can also work unlimited hours during school holidays. However, you should know that you cannot work before the beginning of your school year.
You will therefore have to organise your schedule and your free time after/before your study hours in order to find a job. It is quite possible to find a job offering less than 20 hours per week. Casual jobs are very common in Australia. The majority of students work in cafes, bars, restaurants, fast food outlets, supermarkets, shops, etc. These jobs are the most flexible with student schedules. It is quite possible to meet your needs and cover some extras by working only 20 hours a week, it’s all a question of being organised!