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A popular destination with international students – thousands head Down Under each year to study in Australia

Sandy beaches, deep blue ocean, relaxed living, good weather and barbeques in the sun are just a few of the things that we associate with Australia. But did you know that the country has an internationally respected higher education system? It also has the third highest number of international students in the world, behind only the United States and the UK. All these foreign students can’t be wrong so it’s not surprising that Australia is one of the most popular study destinations in the world.

The cost of living is high, so be prepared for the expense. However, Australians love the great outdoors and strolling along the beach or surfing is free. In your study-free hours you can explore a variety of landscapes, from metropolitan cities and coastal idylls to rainforests and the outback. One thing’s for certain, you’ll never be short of places to explore thanks to the country’s 17 world heritage sites.

Australian universities

The country has 43 universities located across state capitals and regional areas, so with some research you’re bound to find the perfect place to settle.

Institutions offer thousands of courses in a range of subjects, from science and humanities to management and engineering. Australia’s education structure is similar to that in the UK and you can study for Bachelors, Masters and Doctorates.

For a full list of Australian universities see Study in Australia – List of universities.

When it comes to university world rankings Australia has an impressive track record. Seven of the country’s institutions feature in the QS World University Rankings 2019 top 100. These include:

  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of Sydney
  • University of New South Wales
  • The University of Queensland
  • Monash University
  • University of Western Australia.

The country’s oldest research universities comprise the Group of Eight (Go8) including Australian National University, Monash University and the universities of Adelaide, Melbourne, New South Wales, Queensland, Sydney and Western Australia.

Melbourne is the most popular student city according to QS Best Student Cities 2018. Three other locations, including Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra make up the top 30, with Perth narrowly missing out in 39th place.

The academic year usually starts in February but this can vary depending on your institution and level of study.

The largest university in Western Australia has a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses to choose from in four main areas: business, health sciences, humanities and science and engineering.

Experience a rich academic and social life at Australia’s top-ranked university.

The University of New England offers a wide range of courses delivered by world-class academics, and has been awarded five stars for ‘Overall Student Experience’ for the 13th year in a row – a record unmatched by any other Australian public university.

Degree courses in Australia

Bachelors programmes typically take three years to complete (four years for an honours degree). They’re generally split into two semesters, although some universities offer three.

An undergraduate degree helps to develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need to work in your chosen field and enables you to pursue postgraduate studies.

Entry onto Australian higher education programmes is competitive and to gain a place on a course you’ll need a high school leaver’s certificate or equivalent. You’ll also need to prove your level of English proficiency if it’s not your first language. Additional entry requirements for some programmes may include the successful completion of work experience, a portfolio or audition.

Masters degrees

Australian Masters follow a similar format to those in the UK and usually take one or two years to complete. Qualifications awarded from Australian institutions are globally recognised and well respected by employers, standing you in good stead upon graduation.

Institutions in the country offer a range of taught and research-based Masters in areas such as creative arts, engineering, health, education and sciences to name just a few. Like in the UK, you’ll be able to study a Masters of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc). Courses focus on either traditional coursework (taught courses) or independent research (research courses), or a combination of both.

In Australia you’ll also be able to study a ‘Change of direction’ Masters – for students looking to change subject pathways and a ‘Professional development’ Masters – for students looking to further their careers through additional training.

Entry requirements for Masters programmes in Australia vary depending on your university and subject but basic requirements include the successful completion of a Bachelors degree, with most looking for students who hold a minimum of a 2:1 or 2:2 grade.

Other postgraduate qualifications on offer include:

  • Graduate certificates
  • Graduate Diplomas
  • Doctoral degrees.


The Doctoral degree, or PhD, is usually a pure research degree and the highest qualification awarded by Australian universities. They typically take three years to complete and are undertaken on completion of a Masters qualification.

The Doctoral degree is a research programme made up of three components:

  • a review of literature, experimentation or other methodical approach to a body of knowledge
  • an original research project that contributes to understanding and knowledge in your field
  • a thesis that demonstrates a relationship between the research and the field of study.

In terms of assessment you’ll submit a written thesis, but unlike in other countries you won’t need to orally defend your work.

Student exchanges

Exchanges are possible and can be a cost-effective option as you’ll continue to pay your home tuition fees. To take part in a student exchange programme you must be nominated and approved by the exchange coordinator at your home university.

The University of Nottingham has partnership agreements with institutions in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

If you study at the University of Edinburgh you could head out to the University of New South Wales or the University of Queensland on an exchange. While Kings College London has an exchange partnership with the University of Sydney.

Check with your institution to see what links they have to Australian universities.

Course fees

The cost of higher education in Australia is among the most expensive in the world. Fees are set by universities, not the government so the cost of postgraduate study can vary widely. International students will pay considerably more than Australian students and foreign students are also required to pay their tuition fees before they start their course.

Despite the increased cost of study the country remains popular with foreign students.

You can expect to pay anywhere between $20,000 to $37,000 (£10,748 to £19,883) for a Masters degree and $14,000 to $37,000 for a Doctoral degree (£7,523 to £19,883). All costs are per-year in Australian dollars.

These estimates do not include high-value courses such as veterinary science, medicine and the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) where you should expect to pay considerably more.

Funding to study in Australia

Australian institutions are big on internationalisation so as an overseas student you’re guaranteed a warm welcome as well as a helping hand. International scholarships can take the form of grants or bursaries.

Some of the major scholarship programmes available for international students include:

  • Australia Awards – bringing together scholarships offered by a number of agencies including the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
  • Endeavour Leadership Programme – offers a range of merit-based, government-funded scholarships to study in Australia.
  • Research Training Program (RTP) – administered by individual universities on behalf of the Department of Education and Training the RTP awards grants to support domestic and overseas students studying research Masters and research Doctorate degrees.

A number of Australian universities also offer scholarships to international students – for example the Monash University International Scholarships for Excellence and the University of Sydney International Scholarships. To find out what help your institution offers get in touch with the international office.

You can search for scholarships on the Study in Australia website.

To help with living expenses you could also consider working while studying. Most student visas allow you to work for up to 40 hours every two weeks during term time and unrestricted hours during holiday periods. To make sure that you don’t fall foul of the law always check that you can work on your visa type before accepting a job offer.

Student visas

To study in Australia you must obtain a student visa.

All international students need to apply for the Student visa (subclass 500) online, which enables you to study full time in Australia in a recognised education institution. This visa lasts up to five years and costs around $575 Australian dollars (£309).

To secure one you must:

  • provide evidence that you’ve been accepted onto a course, be this a copy of your confirmation of enrolment or offer letter
  • provide proof of your finances
  • possess English language proficiency skills
  • have health insurance
  • not have a substantial criminal record.

For more details on Australian student visas, visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection – Visa finder.

How to apply

To study a postgraduate degree in Australia you’ll need to apply directly to your chosen institution online. Entry requirements vary between universities so check these details before you begin the application process. Closing dates differ depending on your course and some programmes may accept applications all year round.

To gain a place on a course you must:

  • submit an application form to your chosen university
  • receive a Letter of Offer
  • receive an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE)
  • apply for a student visa.

In order for your application to be successful you will need to provide evidence of:

  • academic achievements (transcripts, certificates)
  • English language proficiency
  • funds to support your study
  • overseas student health cover.

Language requirements

Programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level are taught in English. In some cases you may need to provide proof of your proficiency in the language through a recognised English language test.

Be aware of the fact that the skill level required by institutions can differ from the level required on your student visa application.

There are endless options to consider when deciding to study in another country, there’s loads of highly respected universities and so many beautiful countries to experience living in. There are so many things to consider when deciding where you’d like to study, but here’s a bunch of reasons we think Australia is one of the best places to do it.


Australia has one of the best education systems in the world. According to the University Ranking of Quacquarelli Symonds, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney are among the 50 best universities of the world. Australian universities are always excited to welcome international students into their communities. Did you know that more than 80 000 international students decided to study Down Under in 2017? Don´t be sad if your first exam is graded with a D. At Australian universities, an HD (High Distinction) is the best grade. Since this is hard to reach, you should celebrate when you receive a D (Distinction). The other grades are C (Credit), P (Pass) and F (Fail). By the way – Melbourne does not only offer one of the best universities in the world but is – according to the Student City Ranking of QS – also among the 5 best student cities worldwide in 2017.


In comparison to other countries, it is quite easy to get a Visa to study in Australia. Foreign students coming to Australia can take part on the “Overseas Student Program”. Of course, you have to meet several requirements in order to get a Visa. Accessing official documents always means dealing with bureaucracy. First of all, to apply for an Australian student visa, you have to show a Confirmation of Enrollment in a study course at an Australian University. Secondly, you must be able to prove that you have enough financial resources for study fees, living costs and departure. Thirdly, you have to show a certificate that proves your English skills. Last but not least, you need different insurances, like for example health insurance and liability insurance. We know this sounds like a lot of effort, but luckily, in Australia, the process of getting a Visa for foreign students is relatively easy, and there’s a bunch of qualified people to help you through it step by step.


Another reason to study in Australia is – of course – the beautiful landscape. You can find more than five different climate zones on this continent. Some parts of the rainforest and areas of Great Barrier Reef even belong to the UNESCO´s World Heritage List. There will be several possibilities to travel around the whole country between your terms. You can try skiing in the south-east mountains of Australia or go for an adventure in the jungle. If learning and experiencing Indigenous culture isn’t enough, try one of the most famous sports in Australia: surfing on the coast. The coast of the mainland is over 36,000 kilometres long and counts almost 11,000 beaches. During your 2-4 years of studies, it won´t even be possible for you to visit all the beaches of the country. Surfing is very popular in Australia and so is the more traditional game of Cricket. This game has been played for longer than 150 years.


While you study in Australia you will get the chance to improve your English skills. Since English is the official language of the country, you can communicate in English with everybody – in the supermarket, in your free time, at the university. You will even be confronted with English media like magazines, newspaper, cinema movies and TV series. All organizational things like applying for the university and the VISA, signing a rental contract, registering at the new city in Australia will be in English, too. So, living and studying in Australia is really the best way to learn the English language, as you’ll constantly be experiencing it in day to day life. After two or three years in Australia, you will be fluent in understanding all slangs, dialects and accents of English from all over the world. Your ears will be trained for weird accents.  Australians, or Aussies, love to shorten words. There is no other English speaking country with more abbreviations. Here are a couple of our favourites: When you play footy (football) with your cobbas (friends) in the arvo (afternoon), take care that you are not bitten by mozzies (mosquitoes).


You might be thinking “I can get to know a different culture and new, interesting people everywhere – I don´t have to got to Australia for that”. But we promise: You won´t regret having met Aussies and having been part of the Australian culture. Don´t be surprised if everybody is talking with you in a totally informal way right from your first meeting. It is completely normal to call everybody by their first names, even your boss or the doctor. When they don´t know your name, they will call you “mate”. Australian people are known as sociable, open and relaxed so you can easily make friends with everybody. Almost 30% of the people living in Australia are immigrants, which influences the cultural diversity of the country. You can find cultural elements from many European countries like Great Britain, Germany, Italy, or Croatia. But also many people from Asian countries like China, India, and the Philippines choose to live in Down Under. You should definitely study in Australia to get to know the Indigenous Aussies, called the Aboriginals, and their unique cultures and mindsets. Wanna eat something typically Australian? Try Crocodile, Kangaroo and Emu – yes, this kind of meat is really available in the supermarkets! According to some food experts, it even has less fat and is healthier than other kinds of meat.


During your studies in Australia, you will easily find a student job. For enrolled students, there are several opportunities to work. With the Australian Student Visa, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester. During semester breaks you could even work full time. You can find part-time jobs that show a connection to your studies, e.g. in agencies or companies. If you just want to make money without gaining study-related work experience, you can apply as a retail assistant, a waiter, or a promoter. Just search for student jobs on the internet, like for example SEEK. This is one of the most used job platforms in Australia. With your Student Visa, you need to apply for a Tax File Number online. This TFN is essential to get paid!


After your studies in Australia you will have higher chances of landing a job. If you decide to go back to your home country your employer will surely like your Australian degree. Your future boss will see that you can communicate in English and get along in an unknown environment. He will be happy about the excellent education and the skills you have got from your universities studies in Australia. If you decide not to return to your home country after your studies, you could apply for the “Temporary Graduate Visa”. This allows you to work in Australia for 12 more months even after you have graduated. In other countries, e.g. the USA, it is far more difficult to get a working permission after your studies.