Study in Australia: The Ultimate Guide

Welcome to our guide about studying in Australia! If you’re considering tertiary education in the land Down Under, this is the guide for you. Click the hyperlinks to find the section you require, or simply read from start to finish!

Table of Contents

1)     Overview of Australia: A Short Introduction.
2)     Overview of Australia as a Studying Destination (Tertiary Education).
3)     After graduation.
4)     Other Useful links and tips.

1)     Overview of Australia: A Short Introduction

·         Australia uses the Australian Dollar (AUD).
·         The country experiences all four seasons, with weather varying across the various cities.
·         Australia is known for having unique speciality coffee and café cultures—certainly no shortage of good coffee to perk you up!
·         Australians love both a good game of Australian football (also known as “Aussie Rules” or “footy”) and Vegemite. Both are made in Australia, of course!

 

Culture, Weather and Money Matters

Australia is known for being a laid-back and casual country with friendly people. Don’t be surprised if someone starts a conversation with you when you’re in a queue running an errand or on a long train ride for a weekend getaway! It’s also a melting pot of cultures, and you’re likely to hear snippets of Korean, Tagalog, Spanish, and just about any other language during a trip to an Australian city’s Central Business District. All these make for excellent exposure to different worldviews and perspectives during your studies abroad and a greatly different lifestyle from Singapore’s.

In Australia, the weather can be slightly unpredictable depending on which city you are based in. Winters can get cold, exacerbated by wind chill that draws heat away from our bodies (also reflected as the “feels like” temperature). It is also advisable to carry lip balm and moisturiser to prevent chapped lips and peeling skin; Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent[i] with high sunshine hours. If you’re used to Singapore’s high humidity levels, this will take time to get used to! A weather app may become your new best friend.

The AUD is currently stronger than the Singapore Dollar (SGD) at 1: 0.9054 as of the time of writing. Australia is currently battling record-high inflation and increased costs of living, so eating out in Australia can be a costly affair. Be prepared to put on your chef’s hat to trim down on expenses!

Popular Student Cities

Every city in Australia has a different character and charm!

big city and park in Melbourne
  • Melbourne

This is Australia’s coffee capital and is home to a diverse, multicultural population. The city is pegged to become Australia’s future tech hub: it has produced many of the country’s tech grads and is home to many tech organisations’ Asia-Pacific headquarters—such as payment platform Square and visualisation software company Lucidchart.

Melbourne ranks as Australia’s top student city (5th worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023[ii], based on indicators such as affordability and student mix.

  • Perth

Part of Western Australia, Perth is an economic and business hub. Many global oil and gas companies, such as Shell, have major offices here. It is also a health and life sciences destination with a growing medical life sciences start-up scene.

Perth ranks as Australia’s 5th top student city (34th worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023.

  • Sydney

Sydney is not only home to the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but is also Australia’s financial centre. The Australian Stock Exchange and the Futures Exchange are based here, alongside many fintech companies, international banks, regulators and industry bodies.

It enjoys good weather and sunshine all year round and ranks as Australia’s second-best student city (9th worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023.

  • Canberra

Australia’s capital city has a thriving art, cultural and creative sector! It is also home to over 80 of the country’s embassies and consulates as well as national research centres, making it an ideal place to study subjects like politics or international relations, or read a higher degree by research. According to the ACT Government, the city leads nationwide for creative employment[iii].

It also has a lower cost of living compared to other major cities, and is surrounded by nature reserves, forests and farmland. Canberra ranks as Australia’s sixth-best student city (35th worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023.

  • Brisbane

One of Australia’s major business hubs, Brisbane is the country’s third-largest city. It hosts an annual City Welcome Festival/International Student Friendship Ceremony, so be sure not to miss it if you study here!

Brisbane ranks as Australia’s third-best student city (24th worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023.

  • Adelaide

It’s easy to get around in Adelaide (you may very well be able to get from one side of town to the other within an hour), and the city is Australia’s first, and only, UNESCO City of Music. It has a lower cost of living compared to the other major cities and is focusing on establishing a deep technologies ecosystem. Check out Lot Fourteen, Adelaide’s growing innovation precinct!

The Australian Institute for Machine Learning is located in this coastal city, Adelaide ranks as Australia’s fourth-best student city (31st worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023.

  • Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is famed for its beaches and is a holiday destination. Here’s more: it also has a vibrant film and television production scene, being the location of many production studios. Many Hollywood movies and high-budget Australian movies were filmed here.

The Gold Coast also ranks as Australia’s seventh-best student city (93rd worldwide) in QS Best Student Cities 2023.

2)     Overview of Australia as a Studying Destination (Tertiary Education)

·         The top 5 fields for Singaporean students studying in Australia are (in descending order) Health, Society and Culture, Management and Commerce, Natural and Physical Sciences, and Creative Arts[iv].
·         Australia’s universities are world leaders in many research fields.
·         In the latest Ranking of National Higher Education Systems (2020), Australia came in 9th[v].

 

Overview

Australia is a popular tertiary education destination, and many Singaporeans find their way Down Under each year. In fact, as many as 5,484 Singaporeans on student visas enrolled in Higher Education programmes from January to July 2022[vi]!

Australia’s universities are among some of the best worldwide: 7 rank within the top 100 universities globally in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings[vii], and in the QS World University Rankings[viii] (2023 edition).

QS Times Higher Education
University Ranking University Ranking
1)      Australian National University 30 1) The University of Melbourne 34
2)      The University of Melbourne 33 2) Monash University 44
3)      The University of Sydney 41 3)  The University of Queensland 53
4)      The University of New South Wales 45 4) The University of Sydney =54
5)      The University of Queensland =50 5) Australian National University 62
6)      Monash University 57 6) The University of New South Wales =71
7)      The University of Western Australia 90 7) University of Adelaide 88

 

University Networks

Many universities are part of a network. These networks help them gain financial and reputational advantages, share best practices, increase collaborations across member institutions, and increase the depth and breadth of opportunities they can offer students.

Here are four networks you may want to pay attention to!

1) Group of Eight (Go8)

The Go8 comprises eight of Australia’s top research-intensive universities. A whopping 70% of Australia’s university research is undertaken by the Go8, with over 99% of the coalition’s research rated world-class or above. The network also has strong international connections and collaborations with organisations such as their UK counterpart, the Russell Group.

Students of Go8 universities are able to transfer to member institutions wherever applicable, provided certain requirements are met. Learn more about the Go8 universities here!

2) Australian Technology Network (ATN)

The ATN comprises 6 Australian universities, with a focus on enterprise and impact. Here’s an interesting fact: Curtin University was formerly known as the Curtin University of Technology!

The ATN is Australia’s second-largest university grouping for international student numbers, research funding and number of research fields ranked world-standard or above (with the Go8 coming in first). A counterpart is the Chinese Excellence 9 League of Universities (E9).

Through ATN, students of member institutions gain added benefits, such as the chance for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students to take a suite of “futurist-focused learning modules” free of charge via the ATN Frontiers programme. Like the Go8, the ATN is also actively involved in partnerships with industry, recently coming up with a technology skills passport that helps Australia-based workers match their skills and experience with the needs of the tech sector, and navigate a pathway through university and vocational education.

3) Innovative Research Universities (IRU)

The IRU was founded in 2003, with a focus on increasing university participation, facilitating high-quality problem-centred research, addressing local and regional challenges as well as strengthening knowledge and cultural exchange with Asia.

The IRU has collaborated with counterpart networks like the Malaysia Research University Network (MRUN) for research projects, for example, and government agencies on a pilot project exploring the potential for students to participate in real projects for Australia’s Department of Defence, the Department of Finance, and the Northern Territory Department of Trade, Business and Innovation as part of their work-integrated learning.

4) Regional Universities Network (RUN)

The RUN was established in 2011 with the goal of putting regional Australia onto the economic map. According to the latest statistics available, 9,400 international students studied in its member institutions in 2018.

In Australia, regional areas refer to most locations outside major cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane).

Areas of Specialisation

Australia has made many important contributions to the world over the years, releasing innovations like the cochlear implant and the electronic pacemaker.

Which field(s) are you keen to major in, and which Australian universities will help you gain an edge? Here are some to consider*:

Business: The University of Melbourne
The University of Queensland
Monash University
Computer Science: The University of Melbourne
Australian National University
University of Technology Sydney
Dentistry: The University of Adelaide
Nursing: Monash University
University of Sydney
Griffith University
Performing Arts: Australian National University
The University of Melbourne
Edith Cowan University
Psychology: The University of New South Wales
The University of Melbourne
Veterinary Science The University of Melbourne
University of Sydney
The University of Queensland

 

*Not an exhaustive or conclusive list, compiled with reference to the QS World University Rankings by Subject, Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject, and the ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (2022).

A good way to decide would be to ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the university offer a course with modules in areas I’m fascinated about, or will help my career trajectory?
  • Is the school located in a city/area that may help boost opportunities and prospects?
  • Does the university culture suit me?
  • If I am exploring a field that will require registration/certification, is the university’s degree recognised by the relevant authorities? To practise law in Singapore, for example, your law qualification(s) must be from the following universities:
Country Approved University Applicable Law Degree
Australia Australian National University LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
Flinders University LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
Monash University LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
Murdoch University LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
University of Melbourne LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
University of New South Wales LL.B, Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
University of Queensland LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
University of Sydney LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
University of Tasmania LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
University of Western Australia LL.B, LL.B (Honours), Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)

Credits: Singapore Institute of Legal Education

Application affairs

To study in Australia, you will require the following to apply for the student visa (subclass 500):

  • Overseas Students Health Cover (OSHC)
    • Health insurance ranging from basic to comprehensive coverage. This is a visa requirement, and you can purchase a policy from a list of registered providers.
  • Confirmation of Enrolment
  • Letter of Offer
  • Identification documents
    • Copy of birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, etc.
  • Employment history documentation (if any)
    • Updated CV or resume with the last five years of work experience (minimum), pay slips, contract, etc.
  • Statement of Purpose
    • It must reflect that you are heading to Australia with the sole intention of studying, and that your stay is only temporary.
  • Proof of sufficient funds
    • The Australian Government requires all student visa applicants to show evidence that they have sufficient funds to cover their tuition, living and travel expenses. This can be through a) bank statements, evidence of grants or scholarships or b) proof that your parent’s or partner’s annual income, hits AUD$62,222 annually.
  • Good health (a medical certificate may be required)

In light of processing times, do apply for the visa as soon as you are able!

Can I work while studying?

Here’s the good news: yes, you can! International students are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight during the semester, and unlimited hours during school holidays. These hours also include self-sourced, non-mandatory internships.

If you are a postgraduate research student, there is no hour cap.

Do take note that the rules have been temporarily relaxed until 30 June 2023. If you are Australia-bound within this period, you’ll be able to work over 40 hours per fortnight and before the semester begins!

Scholarships

Before you head to Australia, take a look at scholarships to lessen the financial strain and gain valuable opportunities. Apart from study abroad scholarship schemes offered by public and private organisations, many Australian universities also offer scholarships to international students. Make sure you don’t miss their application dates!

Check out some scholarships below.

Scholarship Details
Australia for ASEAN scholarship ·         Covers full tuition fees, airfare, accommodation, OHSC, and more
·         Awardees are required to leave Australia for a minimum of two years after completing this scholarship
·         Open to Master’s degree candidates
·         Application period starts in Feb and end in April (annually)
Destination Australia Scholarship ·         Australian Government program that funds eligible tertiary education providers, so that they can provide scholarships for students to study in regional Australia
·         AUD $15,000 per student, per year
·         Apply through the respective universities/institutions
Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) ·         Research Doctorate and Research Masters candidates are eligible
·         Covers tutition fees, stipend and allowance
·         Apply through the respective universities/institutions

 

3)      After graduation

 

·         Currently, about 16% of international students stay on in Australia after completing their studies[ix].
·         Australians typically get 20 days of annual leave, on top of gazetted public holidays, and a 38-hour work week.
·         Australian work culture is very social, and coffee runs with co-workers are a huge part of it! Many important conversations or catch-ups are had during these runs.

 

Post Work-Study Visas

Keen on experiencing Australian working culture? That’s great, as the country offers the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485)! There are two streams under this visa you can consider, with more details in the table below.

Stream: Details: Requirements:
1)      Graduate Work stream ·         Up to 18 months stay (temporarily extended to 24 months)
·         Family can come along
·         5–17 months processing time
·         Skills and qualifications relevant to specific occupations Australia needs (this requirement is temporarily waived for applications up till June 2023)
·         You must have held a student visa within the last 6 months
2)      Temporary Graduate visa ·         2–4 years stay

(Australia is currently suffering a labour shortage and has extended the maximum stay period by two years for select sectors, to be announced during end-Oct 2022)
·         Family can come along
·         5–11 months processing time
·         You can apply for a second Post-Study Work visa if you graduated from a university in a regional area after the first expires, which gives you an additional 1–2 years

·         A degree from an Australian institution
·         You must have held a student visa within the last 6 months

 

Other visas that you can explore include:

  • The Skilled—Recognised Graduate visa (subclass 476)
    • This visa allows you to stay for up to 18 months to work and study. You will ineligible for this visa if you have held a subclass 476 or 485 visa.

4)     Other Useful links and tips

Here are some tools and links that may help your planning!

Cost of Living Calculator
Scholarship Finder
Document Checklist Tool

Australia is a wonderful country to study in, and we hope you will have a fruitful student life there. We wish you all the best in your educational pursuits!

[i] https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/australia
[ii] https://www.topuniversities.com/city-rankings/2023
[iii] https://www.arts.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/2048826/Canberra-Australias-Arts-Capital-Arts,-Culture-and-Creative-Policy-2022-26.pdf
[iv] According to Australia’s Department of Education
[v] https://universitas21.com/sites/default/files/2020-04/U21_Rankings%20Report_0320_Final_LR%20Single.pdf
[vi] ibid
[vii] https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2023/world-ranking#!/page/0/length/25/locations/AUS/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats
[viii] https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2023
[ix] https://ministers.education.gov.au/clare/post-study-work-rights-international-students-boost-skills

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