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Few countries in the world have such a high level and strong research sector as the Post Graduate level as Australia. If you ask where are the best experts and academic research from any subject, you will find the many of the answers will be in Australia.

Most Australian Universities belong to the Australian Government. Domestica (Australian students) can not study there for free; however they can apply for a loan to help pay their fees called HELP. If the loan is granted, the Government  pays for the university course and the students pay the loan back when they finish the course and they are employed. Once employed students will start paying between 4 - 8% of their wage. This percentage depends on how much the person is earning, and only if their salary is above A$36,000 per year. The top end of the scale 8% is only charged for those who earn above A$65,000 per year. There are not many scholarships available for international students, and they will depend on the limited number of places offered for specific countries. By the way, most Australians shorten the name of University to” UNI”.  

There are approximately 40 universities in Australia, most of them with a very high level of education and specialising in specific areas. Some Universities offer intensive courses; that is, instead of studying for 4 years to complete their degree, the student can complete it in only 2 years. This is possible by shortening vacation time, and studying more hours/lessons per week. Finishing the course in 2 years is popular amongst Australians; this allows the student to be employed earlier and receive a good salary.  Australian universities attract a huge number of international students for many different reasons. Apart from the high quality of education, the Australian Dollar is cheaper than the American and the Euro. Another reason is that in some countries, especially Asian countries such as China, there are not enough places available at university. Of course we must not forget that Australia is a great place to live in because it is relatively safe, which is a big draw card for some countries; some students just want to study in a Western country because our rules for society are very different.     

 Note from the author: Another important reason why international students choose to study here is that certain Australian universities specialise in subjects that the person cannot find in their native country. For example: one of my cousins, doing a research about environmental problems in Brazil, got a PhD course at the University in Queensland, which is considered one of the best in the world for this field.   

Applying to study at an Australian university is quite easy. The first requirement is a good level of English, the second requirement is the money to pay the course! (the payment is done by semesters). English levels may vary, but you are required to have an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of  6.5 (or equivalent in TOFEL). If you do not have an IELTS or TOEFL score, you will be required to sit the test before you can apply for the course. In certain courses such as Law, Medicine, Odontology and some others, the score is higher, however it may be lower in some other faculties. The second step is to translate your full academic transcripts by a sworn translator( if it is not in English). You will need to complete the form and send certified copies of the evaluation to the university. These assessments are charged around A$ 50, and must clearly describe each subject that was studied with hours and grades. For students already attending a course in a University in their home country, the transcripts of the University are enough. For the ones finishing the secondary school they must include all high school transcripts plus the certificate of conclusion. All must still be translated into English by a certified Translator.    

For those students who didn’t finish their studies, you can still enter a university in Australia. If you have a good level of English, you can enrol in a Foundation course. The majority of universities offer this course. They are usually a one year course, and if finish it successfully, you will be able to attend the university. Each uni has different criteria for acceptance, and other things may be needed depending on the requirements of the chosen course. Some uni have more restrictions than others.

Tip 1: If you have finished high school but you are not yet studying in a uni in your country, it is possible to make what they called a Bridge, or a Pathway. You enrol in a technical or TAFE course, which requires only a 5.5 IELTS score (and is lower than what the university requires) and after the diploma of 1 year if they have agreements with a chosen university and course, you will be able to go directly to the Second year, without needing extra tests.

Tip 2: If you are coming to study English in Australia and intend to continue your studies at University, you will need to bring copies of your transcripts (already sworn translated and certified). This will really save you time.

 Tip 3: If you are coming to study at uni in Australia and need to study English to get the accepted level, you can make an application “Package”. This means that you will get 2 COE’s (Confirmation of Enrolment), one for English and another one for University. The student visa will then cover the total period of study, without needing to change or renew your visa. This can be done if the English College that you study in has an agreement with the University or your English course is part of the university. It can save you a lot of money with visas and having to sit the IELTS test, because the entry in the Uni course would be direct, without necessity of tests.  

 Tip 4: When choosing subjects in a University or Post Graduate Course, international students have the option to take only 3 subjects (3 is the minimum, 4 is normal). As the semester price is based on the number of subjects, the student pay a lower price and have more time to study, but the total study time is longer.   

Many Australian Universities have agreements with, and recognize subjects done in overseas universities. This means that the subjects you have already studied at Uni in your native country may be accepted as completed subjects in Australia (as credits). However, it may be that if some subjects offered in Australia are not part of the curriculum in your country, you will be required to do them as part of your course in Australia.  When graduating uni in Australia you will get a “Bachelor Degree”. Many Universities offer to combine two qualifications, and you will be able to finish the course with a Double Degree. This means a degree with two qualifications; just adding 1more year of study. For example: Bachelor of Business & IT.

Study System of Uni’s in Australia -  Australian Universities follow an integrated national system of education of AQF and university courses called Under Graduate, and Post Graduate courses.Generally the duration of the Certificates are 6 months; Masters is 1 year, Masters with Honours 1.5 years, and a Doctorate between 1-2 years. Depending on the number of completed subjects, the degree will be either a  Diploma or Master. For example: a certificate with 6 months study can became a Master degree if 6 months is added; that is studying 4 subjects you will get a Certificate and adding 4 more subjects or 1 semester you will get a Masters degree.                 

Masters and Post Graduate  - to attend either of these courses you are required to already have a university degree. If your university have agreements with the uni in Australia, the process is practically automatic. Otherwise, the transcripts, certified copies of academic study or the translation of your studies and English proficiency will be requested.  An assessment is done by each university, and the requirements may vary. Some Universities courses can even accept student for Graduate courses without the student having completed an undergraduate course, if they have demonstrated experience in that field. The MBA course usually requires 1 or 2 years work experience but the MBI- Master Business International is equal to MBA and it does not require any previous work experience.  

The style of education in Australian universities is different from many other countries. In Australia, the teacher indicates a subject to be studied(on the Internet or by book- note that in the Uni Internet is free, and most face-to-face lessons are only to ask questions about you have already studied). There are lots of “assignments” i.e. essays that are written by you about a pre-determined subject. So instead of studying, you will write and defend one idea about the topic researched. Masters and Post graduate courses have less and less lessons and more debates. Many courses are done in special rooms, for example in a Laboratory and in theatres with Power Point presentations. Doctorates are practically dedicated to research, and the amount of assignments are enormous without any demand of frequency, with only supervision and the presentation of work done.   

Immigration laws allow International students to work 20 hours a week (if they have this in their student visa) and they can work full time during University breaks and vacations. If international students come with their family, husband or wife, the partners will be able to request work permission and work also 20 krs per week.   

Requirements to study in a University: The criteria to enrol in a University may vary, but generally you will have to show:

  • Evidence of English knowledge (all will ask English proficiency).

  • Evidence you can study in this level, such as: Certificate High School award done in Australia or NZ. Evidence of similar qualification submitted by NOOSR (recognition of overseas qualifications).

  • All qualifications having been certified and translated into English (Certified copies)

  • Certificate showing at least 1 year in a university.  

  • Enrolment in a Foundation course for 6 months or 1 year

  • A diploma done in a technical course with the university agreement.  

Evaluation of the University: You can choose to study in any university in Australia even if the university you studied at in your native country does not have an agreement with the chosen Australian University. It is possible to get recognition of your studies but is necessary to submit your Studies resume to the University. The institution will inform you if your qualifications are or aren’t recognised and how much credit you will be able to receive (credit doesn’t mean money but only subjects done). For this evaluation all documents have to be translated in English by a certified translator and certified copies (original are not accepted) submitted, with a fee for the assessment. It could take some weeks before you know the result. Another way to be admitted into an Australian university (depending on the course), is through an evaluation of your CV and letters of recommendation. There is a possibility that the institution may think that you can satisfy the requirements for the course based on your educational qualifications, life and prior work experience. This option is known as “RPL” (Recognition of Prior Learning).  This assessment is done by NOOSR (report of National Department of the Recognition of Foreign Aptitudes) and the contact is available at the embassy.   

Orientation in the Universities: Orientation programs are offered in general at the beginning of the semester to all international and Australian students. The program is compulsory and is a welcome to the university. It includes acknowledgments of the course and school registration, an introduction to university life (services, norms and procedures, students’ rights), orientation of the campus, and information about Australia. Called “O” Week, students usually have a lot of fun as they meet other students and participate in organised university activities.For international students, a tour around the city or any other places may be included. Orientation is a good opportunity to meet other students and the people who work in the international office at the uni.     

Duration of the University Courses  in Australia: A degree course generally takes three years, but it can be done in only two years in some universities if you take less vacation time and more subjects. If you combine two qualifications it will probably take 4 years. After an undergraduate course you may continue your studies and get a Graduate Diploma, a Master or PhD. Many international students in this phase bring the family (wife and children) and there are special visas for the partner and kids, as well as work permission for the partner.   

Vacation in Australian Universities:  The vacations vary according to the system of semesters that the university adopts. The school year of the university generally starts at the end of February or beginning of March with one week of orientation, and finishes in October or November. The Universities with fewer holidays have 3 semesters per year.    

Consult our Course Guide to know more about the schools offering University Courses for international students in Australia.

Mary Help came to study in Australia and became a specialist in acupuncture.
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