If you are intending to study in Australia, you may need to be on a visa class that allows this, rather than a tourist visa. Students and academics invited to visit Australian universities will generally also need an appropriate visa, even if their visit is of a short enough period to be covered by a tourist electronic visa. For extremely short term or part time courses, check with your Australian consulate or embassy.
Australian students attend high school for six years, and enter university at seventeen or eighteen years of age. (In Australia, neither "school" nor "college" are used to refer to tertiary institutions; they are referred to only as "universities" - in fact, some primary and secondary educational institutions are referred to as 'colleges'). Australian undergraduate programs are usually three to four years in length. A fifth year is compulsory in some professional undergraduate programs such as engineering, law, medicine and dentistry. Students in three-year degree programs can take an optional fourth year known as honours if they want to proceed into a postgraduate research program, whereas students enrolled in four year programs typically can incorporate their honours thesis into their fourth year.
Australia does not have universities whose prestige competes with Harvard or the other Ivies in the US or Oxford or Cambridge in the UK. However many are ranked in the top 200 in the world (Times Higher Education Supplement).
All tuition at university level is in English, save for courses that specifically focus on other languages. Students who have not previously earned a qualification in an English speaking program (or passed high school English) will have to take one of a number of English competency tests before being allowed to enrol.
Postgraduate studies in Australia fall into two classes: coursework and research. Coursework degrees are generally at the Masters level. Research degrees are at the Masters and Doctoral level.
There are 39 Universities in Australia. The higher education institutions usually regarded as the best Australian universities have gained their reputation over many years. The best universities are credited for having been established the longest. Australia's oldest universities are the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne. Australia's most prestigious Universities are known as the "Group of 8."
- The University of Adelaide
- The Australian National University
- The University of Melbourne
- Monash University
- The University of New South Wales
- The University of Queensland
- The University of Sydney
- The University of Western Australia
Undergraduate admission to university is centralised at the state level. You make a single application for admission to the state admissions body stating your course preferences. The universities select students from this common applicant pool based upon their ranking and preferences. Unless you are applying for a creative arts degree, your ranking will be based solely on previous academic performance at both high school and previous university studies.
Postgraduate admission is managed by individual universities and you will need to apply separately to each institution you are considering.
Bond University (a private school) is currently the most expensive University in Australia with semester rates of 13,760 or per year (3 semesters) 41,280.
The full fees are very competitive compared to many Western universities. Australian citizens have the option of substantially reduced fees and also have the option of deferring payment and having the money taken from their taxable income along with tax after graduation. Other students will generally be required to pay full tuition on enrolment each semester.
Scholarships are rarely awarded for undergraduate or postgraduate coursework degrees. A comparatively large number of scholarships are available for postgraduate research usually covering both tuition, where required, and living costs. These are awarded by individual universities.
Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of Australia can work in Australia without any further permits, but others will require a work visa. All visitors who do not hold Australian permanent residency or citizenship (including New Zealand citizens who aren't also Australian permanent residents or citizens) are not allowed to access Australian social security arrangements for the unemployed, and will have limited, or more usually, no access to the Australian government's health care payment arrangements.
Payment and taxes
Most Australian employers pay via direct deposit to Australian bank accounts. Open a bank account as soon as you arrive. Your passport will not be enough ID to open a bank account. You will need to show the bank teller 100 points of ID
As soon as you have an address it is wise to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN). You can apply for it online (though, only in Australia) for free at the Australian Tax Office website though you can generally get it quicker if you just go to one of their offices. The Australian financial year runs from July 1 to June 30, and tax returns for each financial year are due on October 30, four months after the accounting period concludes. Check with Australian tax agents about Australian tax liability and filing an Australian tax return.
Australian employers will make compulsory payments out of your earnings to an Australian superannuation (retirement savings) fund on your behalf. Temporary visitors who are not citizens of either Australia or New Zealand can have this money returned to them when they leave Australia.
Working holidaymaker scheme
Australia has a working holidaymaker program for citizens of certain countries between 18 and 30 years of age. It allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the time you first enter. You may work during that time, but only for 6 months at any one employer (was 3 months until July 2006). The idea is for you to take a holiday subsidised by casual or short-term jobs. If you're interested in a working holiday, some useful skills and experience might be: office skills to be used for temp work; or hospitality skills to be used for bar or restaurant work. An alternative is seasonal work like fruit-picking, although much seasonal work will require that you work outside the major cities. Working for 3 months in seasonal work will allow you to apply for a second 12 month visa.
You can apply online for a working holiday visa but you must not be in Australia at the time. It takes just a few hours to process usually and it costs about $170. On arriving in Australia ask for the working holiday visa to be "evidenced", so you can show your future employer. A working holiday visa restricts you to contract type jobs. Don't waste your time applying for permanent jobs in the hope of sponsorship for a different visa class. Contract jobs generally mean employers are looking for solid experience, so make your resume reflect that. Search for jobs on Seek It is wise to try arranging a few interviews and prospects before you arrive in Australia in order to be in the better paid jobs.
Sponsored work visas
The easiest way to get a work visa is to find an Australian employer who will sponsor you. However, this is just 'easier', not 'easy' as such. Your employer will need to demonstrate that they cannot hire anyone with your skills in Australia, and the approval will take several months. If in search of sponsorship, be prepared for a long wait. Note that getting the visa might take a couple of months from the beginning of the application process, and that you will need a medical examination by a doctor approved by the immigration officials before it can be granted (among other things, you will need a chest x-ray to show that you do not have tuberculosis). Check with your local Australian High Commission, Consulate or Embassy and the the Immigration Department's website
You can apply to immigrate as a skilled person or business person, but this process will take longer than receiving a work visa. You can also apply for permanent residency as the holder of a work or study visa, but your application will not be automatically accepted. After four years of permanent residency you are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.
There are several volunteer opportunities in Australia. Many worldwide organisations offer extended travel for those wanting to volunteer their time to work with locals on projects such as habitat restoration, wildlife sanctuary maintenance & development, scientific research, & education programs.
- Australian Volunteers
- World Wildlife Fund
- International Student Volunteers Australia
- Youth Challenge Australia