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...
Make sure you’re eligible for the courses you’re considering. Australian students are ranked by a system called the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, or ATAR. Most universities will have scales to help you translate your A-Level, SAT, Gao Kao, or IB scores into ATAR, though the specific scores required vary a lot based on the university and the specific course you’re interested in. You can find out more in our Study in Australia: Preparing to apply guide.
Most international students will apply directly to the universities of their choice. However, it’s different if you’re studying for an Australian Year 12 qualification outside of Australia, you’re an International Baccalaureate in Australia, or you have an Australian passport. In those cases, you will apply through a local tertiary admissions centre. Each region/territory has its own organisation, so you’ll have to look up the correct centre based on where you live.
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, this isn’t necessary, and usually costs money.
Universities also accept direct applications. You’ll need to provide the standard set of information you would to most universities elsewhere:
- 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, for example.
Once you have all of your supporting documents, you can submit your application online. Give yourself plenty of time to apply, as you’ll also need to sort out your student visa and health insurance.
3. Health insurance
All students entering Australia on a Subclass 500 student visa must have health insurance for the duration of their stay. This cover is known as Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). It provides medical and hospital insurance for when you’re in the country.
In some instances, the university may organise this health insurance for you. If not, there are approved OSHC providers through which you can take out a policy. You need to have this insurance in place before you enter the country and may also need to provide your policy number on your visa application. Your visa will only be granted for the duration of your health insurance, so if you plan on staying in Australia after you graduate, your insurance will need to reflect that.
International students must apply for a student visa (in Australia, the specific type is called Subclass 500). This is what lets you enter Australia and stay there to study. Here’s some of what you’ll need:
- Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from an educational institution. This document is provided once you have been accepted to a programme, so you won’t be able to apply until you’ve not only been accepted, but confirmed you’re going to attend your chosen university.
- Genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement. Basically, this is a personal statement you write to demonstrate that you genuinely want to study in Australia, and aren’t just signing up for a course to get a visa. Among other things, you’ll be asked to discuss why you’re studying in Australia rather than your home country.
- Proof of health insurance. If you’ve followed the step above, you’ll be all set on this one.
You’ll also need to provide other details like your passport information and proof of English language proficiency, but as these are also required to make your university application in the first place, you should already have them ready to go.
The visa application costs begin at 620AUD. Students from some countries must show that they have sufficient funds to see out the year, which includes travel costs, tuition, and money for living expenses. This amount changes each year, but is generally around 21,000AUD. If this applies to you, it will say so when you begin your application.
If your visa is refused, you will be told why and whether you’re able to re-apply.
Many Australian universities, especially those in more rural areas, offer student accommodation. As an international student, this is definitely the easiest way to get yourself sorted in terms of a place to live, at least for your first year. In addition, there are many private companies that provide housing especially for students, which is another easy option, though often more expensive than renting privately.
If you choose to rent privately, it’s recommended not to try and find a place without being able to look at it first. This means you might want to plan to stay in a temporary place like a hotel or an AirBnb when you first arrive.
Good stuff from elsewhere
Find your tertiary admissions centre