Study in Australia

Each year thousands of international students head Down Under making the country the third most popular student destination in the world

If you’re thinking of studying abroad where better to gain a postgraduate degree than in a country which boasts eight of the top 100 universities in the world? However Australia’s impressive statistics don’t stop there. Six of the top 30 student cities are Australian, with Melbourne currently taking second place to Paris, according the QS Best Student Cities 2015.

In your study free hours you’ll be able to take advantage of the good weather, sandy beaches and metropolitan cities and perhaps indulge in a BBQ or two. One thing’s for certain, you’ll never be short of places to explore thanks to Australia’s 17 world heritage sites.

Australia has a national set of qualifications that are endorsed by the Australian Government. This means that there is national and international recognition of each qualification and the level of education it represents.

The main types of undergraduate qualifications offered by most higher education institutions are as follows:

Tertiary Education: Tertiary education can be divided into 2 main types – vocational education and higher education. Vocational Education courses are offered by the insitutions within the Australia’s VET sector (Vocational Education and Training). Such courses are designed for people who want technical, vocational, or trade skills. Most common way to receive such training is through Australian TAFE colleges. TAFE stands for “Technical And Further Education”. The usual requirement for most TAFE courses is completion of the high school program. TAFE colleges usually charge fees, and students have to buy their own textbooks. Vocational areas and professions taught in Australian TAFE include such things as IT (information technology), business, arts and design, media, hospitality, construction, tourism, transport, mining, engineering, technology, manufacturing, and others.

Bachelor degree: Bachelor degrees provide initial preparation for professional careers and postgraduate study and involve a minimum of three years of full-time study (some institutions offer a fast-track system, which allows students to complete a three-year degree in two years). Entry typically requires completion of an Australian secondary school certificate of education (Year 12) or the overseas equivalent, or a diploma or advanced diploma from the VET sector.

Bachelor degree (honours): Honours may require an optional additional year of study (usually research based) following a three-year degree or may be awarded for academic achievement in degrees of four or more years.

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 courses in areas such as Creative arts, Engineering, Health, Education, IT, Nursing and Sciences to name just a few. Courses focus on either conventional coursework (taught courses) or independent research (research courses), or a combination of both.

Entry requirements for Masters programmes in Australia vary depending on university and subject but basic admission requirements include the successful completion of a Bachelors degree, with most looking for students who hold a minimum of a 3.0 CGPA or 60% with minimum 6.0 in IELTS.

The majority of Masters courses start in late February (semester 1). There is a second intake in July (semester 2); however you’ll need to check with individual institutions whether you can begin your postgraduate study at this later date.

To search for Australian Masters programmes see:

  • Study in Australia
  • Good University Guide Australia – Course finder

Other postgraduate qualifications on offer include:

  • Graduate certificates.
  • Graduate Diplomas.
  • Doctoral degrees.


There are currently 43 universities in the country (40 Australian, two international and one private) and with such a variety of courses on offer, 22,000 to be exact, you’re bound to find a programme to suit your needs.

Universities are located in all state capitals, as well as regional areas, so you’ll get to experience bustling cities or calm coastal towns depending on where you settle. Most universities also have more than one campus, located across multiple territories, providing you with plenty of choice as to where you’d like to study.

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

Australian institutions have an impressive track record when it comes to university world rankings; they regularly feature within the top 50 universities in the world in the following subject areas:

  • arts and humanities.
  • engineering and technology.
  • business and management.
  • health and nursing.
  • life sciences.
  • physical sciences.
  • social sciences.

They also frequently appear on lists such as the:


The cost of postgraduate study in Australia isn’t cheap and as an international student you will be required to pay tuition fees before you start your course.

Course fees differ between institutions and per subject so make sure you check this information before committing to a programme.

While tuition fees are set by individual universities you can expect to pay anywhere between $8,000 to $15,000 for a VET program, $19,000 to $37,000 for a Bachelor/Masters degree and $14,000 to $37,000 for a Doctoral degree. All costs are per-year in Australian dollars.

These estimates do not include high-value courses such as veterinary and medical, where you should expect to pay considerably more.


Australian institutions are big on internationalisation so as an overseas student you’re guaranteed a warm welcome as well as a helping hand. In fact, the Australian government provides more than $200 million each year for international scholarships. These can take the form of grants or bursaries and can help to support you financially with your studies.

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).
  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS)– if you already have a graduate qualification, an IPRS scholarship lets you study in Australia with some of the best researchers in your field.

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

 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.

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.

In some cases you may be required to provide the results of a recognised English language proficiency test (IELTS/TOEFL/PTE-Academic).

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

 Student visas

 To study in Australia you must obtain the relevant student visa.

To study for a taught Masters (or a Bachelors degree) you will need a Higher Education Sector visa (Subclass 573). This visa enables you to stay in the country for the duration of your course and allows you to work for up to 40 hours per fortnight once you course has commenced.

This visa costs around $550 and 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;
  • meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement;
  • provide proof of your finances;
  • possess English language proficiency skills;
  • have health insurance, which can be provided by obtaining Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC);
  • not have a substantial criminal record.
You’ll also need to submit application form 157A, passport photos and proof of your academic record.

To study a research Masters or a Doctoral degree you will need to obtain the Postgraduate Research Sector visa (Subclass 574).

For more details on Australian student visas, visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection – Studying in Australia .

 Doctoral programmes

 The Doctoral degree or PhD is the highest qualification awarded by Australian universities and typically takes three years to complete. They 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.