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Masters Fees and Funding in Australia

You won’t be surprised to learn that Australia is a consistently popular study destination, with internationally recognised universities attracting students from home and abroad. But how much do you know about the cost of a Masters in Australia? And how fortunate are postgraduates looking for funding in ‘the lucky country’?

On this page you can read about Masters fees and funding in Australia. This includes a guide to costs for domestic students as well as international postgraduates and a breakdown of some of the more important Australian scholarship providers.

If you’re looking for more general information on Masters degrees in Australia, why not check out our study guide? Or, if you’ve already decided that postgraduate study down-under is for you, you can start searching for Australian Masters degrees.

Masters fees for Australian students

The majority of Australia’s universities are publically funded, with the government supporting research, teaching and some student fees. This means that, whilst fees for Masters degrees in Australia are relatively high, many students do not pay the full cost of their courses.

Calculating Australian Masters fees

Costs for most degree programmes in Australia are calculated per-unit. Each unit (or module) of your course will fall into one of three bands, depending on its course content and subject area. Student costs for individual bands are capped by the Australian government until 2016.

In order to calculate the entire cost of a specific programme you’ll need to work out which units you expect to study and combine their cost. Many Australian universities offer fee calculators on their websites to assist you with this.

Commonwealth supported students

Domestic students (as well as permanent residents and citizens of New Zealand) may be able to receive Commonwealth support for a taught Masters (or, ‘Masters by coursework’) in Australia. Commonwealth supported places are partially subsidised by the Australian government, which pays money directly to universities in order to reduce tuition fees.

Masters fees for Commonwealth supported students are much lower than those for other ‘full-fee’ students. Instead of paying the entire cost of your programme you will pay a smaller ‘student contribution fee’. This can be as little as AU$1,000-2,000 per year, though the actual cost will depend on the units you study and the grade bands they fall into.

In some cases your student contribution fee can also be offset with a loan. For more information, see the section on Masters funding in Australia.

‘Full-fee’ students

Domestic students who do not qualify for Commonwealth support pay fees in Australia at the full rate set by their university. This is the case for the majority of Masters students, due to limitations on the number of Commonwealth supported places at postgraduate level.

As a ‘full-fee’ Masters student in Australia you will pay between AU$10,000 and AU$25,000 for a typical one-year course. The exact cost will depend on your specific programme and the units of study it includes.

Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF)

In addition to tuition fees, students in Australia may also be required to pay a small Student Services and Amenities Fee. This covers administrative costs and other services not directly related to tuition for your Masters.

Individual universities can decide how much (if anything) to charge for SSAF, up to a maximum of AU$286 per year.

Masters fees for international students in Australia

If you are not an Australian citizen, New Zealand citizen or permanent resident of Australia, you will usually be classed as an international student.

International postgraduate students in Australia pay tuition fees at a slightly higher rate and are not eligible for Commonwealth supported places. This doesn’t mean you can’t receive financial support to study a Masters abroad in Australia – in fact, there are lots of scholarship schemes designed specifically for overseas postgraduates.

International fee estimates

The Australian government currently estimates the cost of fees for international Masters students at between AU$20,000 and AU$37,000 per year.

Some programmes may be more expensive than this, particularly in subjects such as medicine and related disciplines. MBA courses are also likely to incur higher fees than other taught Masters degrees.

Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF) for international students

International postgraduates can also be charged SSAF, up to a current maximum of AU$286 per year. This covers additional costs associated with your Masters degree, but not directly related to its tuition.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

You will need to have adequate health insurance during your time studying a Masters in Australia. International students usually receive this by purchasing Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) from a suitable insurer.

Different OSHC products provide different levels of cover. You can take out a cheap basic policy that satisfies your legal obligations as an international student, or purchase more extensive cover according to your needs. The average cost for a minimum coverage policy is around AU$437.

The Australian Department of Health provides more information about OSHC cover.

Upcoming reforms to fees and funding in Australia

The Australian government is due to introduce various changes to higher education funding that may impact fees for degree programmes.

These will begin to apply to new students from 2016. Existing students (enrolled prior to 13th May 2014) will pay fees at the original rate until 2020.

The most important of the changes concern Commonwealth supported places. Government subsidies for these are due to be reduced and caps on student contribution fees will be removed. This will increase the final cost of some degree programmes, but may not have as great an effect on the cost of Australian Masters degrees (for which many students already pay at the ‘full-fee’ rate).

You can read more about these upcoming reforms at the Australian government website.

Masters funding for Australian students

Financial support for Australian students is available in a number of forms, from both public and private sources. So, even if your course is not eligible for Commonwealth support, you should still be able to receive some funding or other assistance for your Masters in Australia.

Note that international students are not usually eligible for the same government finance as Australian citizens, but can receive other forms of funding and support.

Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP)

The Australian government provides support to domestic students through a national loans system. This support is referred to as the Higher Education Loan Programme, or ‘HELP’ – a pretty appropriate acronym!

HELP loans are normally only available to Australian citizens, or students with permanent humanitarian visas. This excludes students from New Zealand or those with other forms of visa.

You can receive five different forms of ‘HELP’ for your Masters degree:

  • FEE-HELP loans help cover the cost of your tuition fees. The amount you can borrow is subject to a lifetime limit that varies each year, but is roughly AU$100,000 (students in medicine and related subject areas may be eligible to borrow slightly more). This limit is shared with the VET FEE-HELP scheme (see below).
    Undergraduate FEE-HELP loan schemes usually incur a 25% borrowing fee, but this is not charged for Masters degrees.
  • VET FEE-HELP loans are similar to FEE-HELP, but are provided to cover tuition on vocational education and training (VET) qualifications.
    These include some postgraduate courses, such as graduate certificates and graduate diplomas. If you are an Australian student studying a complete Masters degree, you should apply for a FEE-HELP loan, rather than VET FEE-HELP.
    VET FEE-HELP shares the same lifetime borrowing limit as FEE-HELP.
  • HECS-HELP support is only available to students on commonwealth supported places. It provides a loan to cover your student contribution fee (the amount of tuition you pay for after your Commonwealth support is taken into account).
    The HECS-HELP scheme also allows eligible students to receive a 10% up-front discount on their student contribution fee, instead of a loan. This option may be removed as a result of upcoming higher education reforms in Australia.
  • OS-HELP loans are intended for Commonwealth supported students studying part of their course overseas.
    In order to be eligible for an OS-HELP loan your Masters must be awarded by your ‘home’ institution in Australia. You cannot use an OS-HELP loan to pay for an entire Masters abroad.
  • SA-HELP loans are available to assist with the cost of your Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). Eligibility for SA-HELP loans is partly based on your tax status. You will need to submit your Tax File Number (TFN) as part of your application.

HELP repayments

Any HELP debt you incur as a Masters student in Australia will be combined into one sum, managed by the Australian Taxation Office.

Repayments are made on an income-contingent basis, above a specific threshold (currently AU$54,126) and deducted through the Australian taxation system. The exact rate at which you repay will depend on how much you earn each year. At present, rates rise at roughly 0.5% per additional AU$5,000 of income.

You can find more information about different HELP schemes (including repayment rates) on the Australian Government’s Study Assist website.

Commonwealth Scholarships

The Commonwealth Scholarships Programme supports indigenous Australians in higher education. You can apply for this funding if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student and can demonstrate a need for financial support.

Various Commonwealth Scholarships are offered, with some providing a maintenance grant, whilst others are primarily intended to cover relocation costs. The Australian Department of Education and Training provides more information on scholarship amounts, eligibility and application procedures.

Other sources of funding for Australian Masters students

Support for postgraduate students in Australia is also available from a variety of other sources. These include scholarships from individual universities as well as wider funding schemes targeted at particular groups of students or subject areas (you can view some of these in the section on funding for international students in Australia, below).

The best way to find out about university scholarships is to find a course that interests you and get in touch to ask about funding – you can view contact details for all of the Australian Masters degree programmes listed here on FindAMasters.

Masters funding for international students in Australia

You won’t be eligible for HELP loans as an international student in Australia, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any support available to you.

Various other funding schemes exist for Masters students in Australia. Some are specifically designed to attract and support international postgraduates. Others are available to all applicants, regardless of nationality.

Australia Awards

The Australia Awards are a flagship international scholarship scheme funded by various branches of the Australian government. They offer generous support to international students from a selection of partner countries who wish to study abroad in Australia.

There are two main Australia Awards scholarship schemes for international Masters students in Australia:

Both scholarship schemes cover full tuition fees in addition to travel expenses, an initial establishment grant, a maintenance stipend, Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and other sundry expenses.

Scholarships for postgraduate research

Various schemes exist to assist international students on postgraduate research degrees in Australia. Much of this funding is targeted at PhD-level work, but some schemes also support research Masters degrees:

  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS) are awarded by universities to international students (excepting citizens of New Zealand) who wish to complete a postgraduate research degree (including a two-year research Masters) in Australia. They cover tuition fees and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
  • Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) are offered by individual universities, with the support of the Australian Department of Education. Funding is available for two-year research Masters degrees (as well as PhDs) and is offered in the form of a living stipend (currently set at AU$25,849 for full-time students). International students can apply for Australian Postgraduate Awards in addition to International Postgraduate Research Scholarships.
  • Postgraduate Scholarships are offered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission. Most of their support is targeted at American PhD students wishing to complete short periods of study in Australia.

University scholarships

Australian universities are keen to recruit promising international postgraduates (like you!) and many will offer their own funding for overseas Masters students. A good way to see what’s available is find a course that interests you, then get in touch. You can find contact details for all of the Australian Masters degrees listed on FindAMasters.com.

Search for Masters funding in Australia

Of course, there are far more opportunities for Masters funding in Australia than we can list on this page. That’s why we’ve created our dedicated postgraduate funding website, PostgraduateFunding.com. There you can search for scholarships, travel grants, bursaries and all sorts of other, well, postgraduate funding!

You can click here to view funding for Masters degrees in Australia, or create your own customised postgraduate funding search.

FindAMasters scholarships in Australia

Don't forget that you can also apply for one of our own FindAMasters scholarships to help cover the cost of postgraduate study in Australia. There's no catch, you just have to be beginning a Masters degree this year at a university with courses listed at FindAMasters.com.

We've got one £5,000 scholarship up for grabs, plus four £500 scholarships. So, if you've found a Masters degree in Australia, why not register for scholarship news? We'll be in touch about the application process soon!

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