There is no doubt that Australia is a great place to combine a quality education with an outstanding quality of life.
Australians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world - but it can be expensive for students. An average international student in Australia will spend about A$500 a week on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, transport and telephone. Remember, though, that this figure depends on your location, lifestyle and even your course. You should seek further information on living costs from your institution.
As an international student, you must pay your tuition fees up-front.
Aside from tuition fees, some institutions may also charge for other student costs, such as library, laboratory or sports facility costs. Excursions, books and stationery are other costs to consider, and your course may also require specific essential materials, such as lab coats or photographic supplies.
Your institution will provide you with information on how and when to pay your tuition fees.
While most international students in Australia are full-fee paying students, another option is to apply for a scholarship.
Scholarships are offered by the Australian Government, education institutions and a number of other organisations. They cover various educational sectors, including vocational education and training, student exchanges, undergraduate and postgraduate study and research.
Other funding sources
International and charitable organizations offer scholarships for international study. You must apply for these scholarships in your home country, not in Australia.
Working while you study
One of the advantages of being an international student in Australia is that you can receive permission to work part time (up to 40 hours per fortnight) while you study.
Your student visa automatically gives you permission to work. Your visa information is held electronically by the Australian Department of Immigration (DIAC) and can be accessed at any time using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system. Employers, banks and Government services can also check details about your visa entitlements on VEVO once they have your consent to do so.
- Types of work for international students
International students often find work in retail, hospitality and administration. Working students are covered by Australian workplace law and practice.
You should obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Tax Office if you are going to work in Australia. You may also need a TFN to open a bank account. In addition to supplying your name, current address and date of birth, you may also need to supply your date of arrival in Australia, your passport and proof of enrollment.
Living costs in Australia
Migration regulations in Australia require international students to show evidence that they can contribute to the cost of living and studying in Australia. This helps to ensure students are better able to make the most of their studies and have a safe and enjoyable experience in Australia.
While international students are able to supplement their income with money earned through part-time work in Australia, the ‘living costs’ requirement helps to support the success of students in their studies by ensuring that they don’t have to rely on such work to meet all their expenses.
The basic rate of living costs under the Migration regulations increased. Under these regulations prospective student visa applicants and their family members must have access to the following funds to meet the living costs requirements:
- A $18,000 a year for the main student;
- A $6,300 a year for the student’s partner;
- A $3,600 a year for the student’s first child; and
- A $2,700 a year for every other child and where required.
International students studying in Australia must have adequate arrangements in Australia for health insurance. Australia has a special system of health care cover for international students. This is called Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and you are required to have this for the duration of your student visa in Australia.
Chances are pretty good that your trip will go smoothly and you won’t encounter any problems. Even so, you should plan for the unexpected. Cancelled flights, lost luggage and wallets can end up costing you a lot of time and money, so take out travel insurance before you leave. It won’t guard against bad things happening, but it will protect you against having to cover unexpected costs.
Don’t forget to take your travel insurance documents (and copies) with you when you travel. This documentation provides you with information and emergency contact numbers to use if you need to make an insurance claim.
Some providers of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) offer travel insurance as an addition to your basic policy. You must make arrangements specifically for travel insurance – it will not be covered by your basic OSHC health policy.
Other forms of insurance
Students in Australia are responsible for their own accident and property insurance.
If you plan on buying a car in Australia, you must take out Compulsory Third Party insurance to cover any damage you may do to other vehicles. It is recommended that you also purchase insurance to cover accidental damage to your own car.
Accommodation options and costs
Temporary or permanent accommodation
Finding the right accommodation is one of the biggest challenges facing a new international student, and finding a place in your price range can be even harder.
There is a shortage of affordable housing across Australia that affects everyone, from international students to Australian residents. It is extremely important that you factor the high cost of housing into your budget before you come to Australia, and have access to funds that will cover possible rent increases.
It is a good idea to arrange some form of temporary accommodation before you come to Australia. This will allow you time to get to know the place where you will be living and look for a more permanent place to stay.
Arranging temporary accommodation before arrival
At the very least, you will need to arrange temporary accommodation for your first few days while you look for something more permanent. Your education institution might be able to help you, or you can look up hostels and book online.
Arranging permanent accommodation
Australia has a variety of high standard student accommodation available to suit different budgets and needs and there are several long-term housing options available to you. As well as rooms or residential colleges available on-campus at some education institutions, there are hostels (rooming houses), Homestay (living with a family in their home), and rental properties (either on your own or sharing with others). Shared accommodation with other students is common and popular and student noticeboards and newspapers often advertise rooms, apartments and houses for rent.
Most accommodation, except homestay, does not include electrical items, household equipment, sheets and blankets etc. Second hand household goods are available quite cheaply, but you may wish to bring some of your own basic items.
Student visas are granted by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). DIAC will only grant you a student visa if your course is registered, or is part of a registered course, on a full time basis.
Visit the Commonwealth Register of Courses and Institutions for Overseas Students (CRICOS) website for more information on registered courses and education providers.
Courses under three months’ duration can be undertaken on a visitor visa or courses of up to four months on a working holiday visa. If you intend to study a longer course, you must apply for a student visa.
Advantages to studying on a student visa include:
- You will have access to Australia’s subsidised student health cover.
- You will be allowed to study for longer; and
- You can work part time.
You can apply for your student visa as soon as you receive a letter of offer or electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for your full time course of study.
Overseas student health cover
Australia has a special system of health cover for international students called Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). You will need to buy OSHC before you come to Australia to cover you from when you arrive. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires you to maintain OSHC for the duration of your time on a student visa in Australia.
You might find that your institution has an agreement with a specific OSHC provider. You can choose to take out OSHC with this provider, or with the Australian OSHC provider of your choice. As at July 2008, there are five providers of OSHC in Australia.
- Australian Health Management OSHC
- BUPA Australia
- Medibank Private
- OSHC Worldcare
- NIB OSHC