Australia is a popular destination for both Working Holiday Visas and tourists, however, it is also worth considering Australia as a destination for studying. Better yet, foreign students are in great demand, with many nationalities choosing Australia as their study destination because of its internationally reputable universities. The majority choose to study in Sydney or Melbourne; however, there are numerous universities in Australia to choose from, with courses offering a wide range of topics. This guide will explain everything you need to know about studying in Australia from fees to entry requirements.
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Why study in Australia?
There is no doubt Australia is a friendly country with an exceptional living environment, but it’s not just the sun, the beaches and kangaroos that make this country an interesting study destination.
Firstly, the country’s education system is one of the best in the world. Its quality of teaching is recognised worldwide, which will lead to professional opportunities regardless of where you are from. Visiting and studying in Australia is also a good way to improve your English if english is not your mother tongue. You will be immersed in Australian culture from meeting other students, attending bars and cafes, playing sports as well as enjoying the relaxed vibe.
To study in Australia, you will need to get a student visa. It is not difficult to get it and it costs $650 (as at Dec 2022). You will receive a response to your application within 1-3 weeks. Just ensure you have attached the relevant documentation to your application to avoid any complications or delay. This visa will also allow you to work outside of your class hours; however, there are limitations. You can work up to 40 hours per fortnight and full time during school holidays.
To address workforce shortages, student visa work hours restrictions have been temporarily relaxed. This will end on 30 June 2023.
Important Info: To address workforce shortages, student visa work hours restrictions have been temporarily relaxed. Until 30 June 2023, all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy and work before their course of study commences.
Finally, Australia is a very exciting destination, growing in popularity for international students. You will have the opportunity to meet many young people of your age from so many nationalities. They are often in the same situation as you, looking to explore a new destination, learn (or improve) their English as well as study a course they are passionate about. Not forgetting, during school holidays, you will have the opportunity to travel and discover this beautiful country on road trips with your new classmates.
The cost of universities in Australia
There is one main disadvantage in comparison to the European university system – the cost. Universities in Australia are expensive to attend, expect anywhere between $ 25,000 to $ 45,000 a year (with prices increasing every year by up to 10%).
The only financial aid offered in Australia is scholarships. These scholarships are mainly awarded on academic merit. However, it is quite difficult to receive one. There are also sometimes international exchanges automatically offered to certain nationalities, to diversify the university student population. Check with your university if there’s any program in place.
Why are Australian universities so expensive?
A series of factors justify the high cost of universities in Australia:
- a fairly regular overhaul of programs to keep up to date with labour market trends
- carefully selected professors for their academic and professional renown
- state of the art premises including modern equipment (computers, laboratories, research centres, digital bookstores, etc.)
- opportunities for academic exchange in major universities around the world
- excellent sports clubs, art facilities, employment assistance services, accommodation, etc.
Australian universities are on par with the most prestigious American and British universities. They are also often ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. The most popular universities in Australia are known as the Group of 8, which represent the 8 best Australian universities.
This Group of 8 includes:
- The University of Western Australia in Perth
- Monash University in Melbourne
- Australian National University in Canberra
- The University of Adelaide
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of New South Wales in Sydney
- The University of Queensland in Brisbane
- The University of Sydney
This Group of 8 welcomes more than 100,000 international students from 200 different countries.
Australian university entrance requirements
For universities in Australia, there are two eligibility conditions for foreign students:
- Academic conditions – thus obtaining the necessary qualifications before application, eg. Bachelor before Masters,
- Language conditions – Fluent English is essential and sometimes it is necessary to sit an official English test such as IELTS Academic, TOEFL, CAE, PTE. This will not apply if you mother tongue is English.
For each program, a certain average is expected from your previous studies and for the English test. For some more selective branches of study such as law, medicine, teaching etc., other entry requirements will be needed, such as a motivational interview and additional assessments. Finally, it is important to note that some University studies (non-international law, medical professions, teaching, architecture, etc.) are only applicable in Australia, sometimes in New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries.
These studies lead to professions governed by legislation specific to each country. Therefore, it is important to note the relevance of your studies to your country of origin, for example, if you study law in Australia, you may not be able to practise in Europe (depending on the country and the legal system in place). This does not apply to degrees such as business, finance, web development etc. where the practise is the same worldwide, and your degree will prove beneficial regardless of which country you return to.
It is advisable to contact an educational agency before or during your stay in Australia to ensure your questions are answered before applying to make the most of your studies.
Australian vs European university system
The different principles of the Australian university
With universities in Australia, like most universities, their purpose is to ensure the well-being of students and prepare them for their future career.
Moreover, a significant difference with the European university system is the few hours of classes per week. University schedules are usually between 5 and 15 hours per week. The main objective is to allow students to do an internship or work in parallel, to gain on-hand experience alongside learning to work independently and as a team. Understandably, these last two components are valued highly by employers in Australia.
For the Australian university system, students must prepare for each lecture just as much as the lecturer would. Students are asked to read a few chapters in preparation for each lecture and class. This pro-active approach saves time with the teachers seen more as mentors with whom, the students can contact by email between the scheduled classes.
Each academic has a student portal on which you can access results, find timetables and schedules for each semester. Contact the administration for various reasons (such as a certificate of schooling) as well as receive bills each semester for the university fees. To note, in Australia tuition fees are paid each semester.
Generally, Australian universities offer two entries a year in February and July and some work quarterly and therefore offer three quarters.
The similarity between European and Australian university systems lies in the structure and organisation of the university. The final certificates are generally the same – bachelor’s degree and doctorate (PhD) and a masters degree. There are exceptions and there are schools in Australia that deliver bachelors and masters but are not universities, these are more like business schools. These schools are generally cheaper than universities and more flexible eligibility conditions. Their certificates can also be completed in a shorter time, usually achievable within one year.