If you’re considering applying to study down under but don’t know where to start - no worries, mate. This useful guide gives you everything you need to know to get organised. It can be a long process, so let's get stuck in...
1. Decide on a course and a university that offers it
There are around 40 universities in Australia, with a wide variety of programmes on offer at each. Before you start your application process, you’ll want to decide on a suitable area of study. Some universities will specialise in certain fields. This often means they’re competitive and have high entry requirements.
Once you’ve settled on an area of study, take a look at some of the universities that offer your programme. Take into account their location, the type of city and campus, and the cost of living. Draw up a shortlist of institutions you want to apply for and check the entry requirements.
Often, you’ll have to convert your exam scores into ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) equivalents. The points scale used for this differs between universities. Therefore, you need to check that you meet the requirements for each one - you can read our Preparing to Apply guide to help with this.
Many universities will have flexible programmes where you can take a combination of subjects. Some also offer joint degrees, and it’s possible to apply for ‘course packaging’. This is where you study consecutive programmes on the same visa. Some universities allow you to choose your units either before or after you arrive.
2. Submit your application
Most international students will apply directly to the universities of their choice. However, this is different if you’re studying for an Australian Year 12 qualification outside of Australia, or you’re an International Baccalaureate in Australia, or you have an Australian passport. In these instances, you will apply through a local tertiary admissions centre. Each region/territory has its own organisation.
In some cases, students can use agents or representatives to guide them through the application process. Universities that accept such services will usually have a list of trusted agents on their website. However, not all institutions require this, and it may depend on your country of origin. For many, you can apply directly to the university.
You can apply online for universities in Australia, although some do charge a non-refundable fee. There's a lot of information you will have to provide to be accepted for a programme. This includes:
- Your personal details including name, address, school details.
- Academic transcripts and details of exam results/predictions.
- Passport details.
- English language proficiency details, including proof of qualifications where necessary.
- The duration of your stay and the study plan for your programme if you’re only staying for one semester. This plan usually requires you to choose a number of subjects/courses for each semester.
- Proof of specific requirements for the faculty/faculties you’re applying for. Some programmes require a portfolio of your past work.
- Evidence of prior learning, particularly if you’re applying for Advanced Standing.
Once you have all of your supporting documents, you can submit your application electronically. Make sure that you find out when the deadlines are for your chosen subject and semester. Give yourself plenty of time to apply, as you’ll also need to sort out your student visa and health insurance.
3. Receive a letter of offer
Once you’ve sent off your application, it will usually take a few weeks (4-6) for the university to process it. In some circumstances, the institution may contact you for further clarification. When your application is approved, you will receive a letter of offer.
You'll need to fill out an acceptance form that shows you have carefully read and accepted the letter of offer. There may be some requirements that you have to meet to confirm your place. Most universities will also ask you to pay your tuition fees at this stage.
4. Receive a Confirmation of Enrolment
After you send back your acceptance form and meet the conditions of your place, the university will send you a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) document. The CoE can be sent electronically, and you will need it to confirm your visa.
5. Apply for your student visa
All students from overseas require a visa to study in Australia. The student visa (subclass 500) costs around AUD$575. You need a Confirmation of Enrolment in order to apply for it. There are also some other requirements:
- You need to meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirements. This proves you are not intending on using your studies to gain residency in Australia.
- You must meet the English language requirements.
- You must have health insurance for the duration of your stay.
For the health insurance, your university may help you find Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). If not, there are also many approved OSHC providers.
6. Find accommodation and book flights
Once your paperwork is finalised, and your visa is approved, you’ll need to plan for getting to Australia and find a place to stay. Most universities will send you a welcome pack upon acceptance. This pack gives you information on your programme and options for accommodation.
Hopefully, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for your arrival. This will mean that you can research the city you’ll be living in and find a suitable place to live. Make sure that you leave enough time to settle in before your orientation.
Don’t forget, you may have to demonstrate proof of funds to enter the country or have your visa approved. For a year of study, this requirement is AUD$20,290 per year. This should cover course fees, travel and living costs.
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