What’s it like to study abroad in Australia?
Unless you’re averse to great weather, exciting wildlife and beautiful geography, it’s likely that the appeal of spending time abroad in Australia probably doesn’t need to be explained to you.
However, you may not realise just how much Australia has to offer as a study destination.
As one of the world’s strongest economies, with vibrant, high-tech cities and a wide range of cultural and sporting achievements, postgraduate life in Australia can be an educational opportunity in more ways than one.
And, wherever you hail from, you’ll be more than welcome as an international student and be among good company – after all, Australia is the third most popular study destination in the world.
Sports and leisure activities
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get out and about in a break from your studies - whether you’re keen to visit famous resort regions like Bondi Beach and Byron Bay (and perhaps try a little surfing) or check out sports like cricket and Aussie rules football.
Australia also has lots to offer those looking for other pastimes, from major touring music festivals like the world-famous Big Day Out, to beautiful landscapes, man-made landmarks and 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Food and drink
Contrary to familiar cultural stereotypes, it’s not all about shrimp barbeques in Australia (and these days you’re more likely to be offered a ‘Moreton Bay Bug’ – a delicious variety of crayfish!).
You may also have heard colourful tales of Australian ‘bushfood’ or of strange local meats (crocodile, emu, kangaroo and so on) but ‘real’ Australian cooking draws on a much wider range of influences.
In fact, today Australia is widely recognised as one of the best foodie destinations in the world, offering residents and visitors the choice of dishes and ingredients from its hugely diverse immigrant communities - Greek, Italian, Persian, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai – alongside more traditional staples.
Australia also produces some of the world’s finest wines and is a must-visit for any coffee lover. The emphasis across the country is on fresh, seasonal and local food.
Masters student accommodation and living costs in Australia
The Australian government recommends that international students are able to demonstrate a minimum budget of AUD $21,041 per year (USD $15,810), while universities recommend a figure between AUD $18,000 and AUD $28,000 (USD $13,530-21,040).
Your own expenses will vary depending on the city you live and study in and your lifestyle choices, but you should expect to pay something in the region of the above amounts.
Accommodation for international students in Australia
Whatever you get up to while studying abroad, accommodation will almost certainly be your main expense (unless you’re really into expensive surfboards, gourmet dining and fine wine tasting, that is!).
As with other countries you’ll have two main housing options as a Masters student in Australia: university accommodation and private rented accommodation.
University accommodation will usually be the most convenient option for international students. Not all institutions will have their own rooms available, but those that do may prioritise some for overseas applicants. Your best bet is to register your interest while applying for your Masters.
The price of university accommodation in Australia varies between institutions, but will usually be between AUD $110 and AUD $280 per week (USD $80-210).
This may seem expensive, but you should bear in mind that the above prices include utilities – expenses that would need otherwise need to be paid separately.
The main alternative to university accommodation is a private rental. All of Australia’s university cities will be well served with independent landlords offering housing suitable for students.
Searching for this accommodation can be tricky without having the opportunity to view properties and judge factors such as transport options and local services.
For this reason many international students arrive in Australia a few weeks before their degree begins and use this time to help source accommodation.
Your university will have an accommodation office and a database of approved landlords and possible properties. Going through this is a good way to start your search.
The price of privately rented student accommodation in Australia varies according to local market conditions. As a rough estimate you should expect to pay upward of AUD $185 and AUD $440 per week (USD $140-330). Bear in mind that this won’t include utilities or food.
Living costs for international students in Australia
Once you’ve covered the cost of your accommodation you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient budget left over to pay for maintenance expenses such as food and utilities.
The amount you need will depend on your lifestyle. If you’re looking to take surfing lessons, try every bottle of wine you can get your hands on and go on an extended trek in the Outback, you’ll probably spend a little more than someone who’s content to sit back and soak up the sun at the beach.
As a very general rule, you should probably budget between AUD $140 and AUD $280 per week for groceries and eating out (USD $105-210).
Working while studying abroad in Australia
According to the conditions of your student visa, you can work for 40 hours a fortnight while your course is in session. This limit doesn’t include placements, internships or other activities required by your course.
Voluntary / unpaid work isn’t included in the limit either, as long as it benefits the community, is for a non-profit organization and satisfies certain other conditions.
You can work unlimited hours while your course is out of session.
Note that your right to work while studying abroad in Australia only applies for the duration of your course. You cannot work until your registration period has started and will lose your right to work in Australia if you exit your programme.
For more information, take a look at the conditions for the Student Visa (subclass 500).
Other useful information for Masters students in Australia
Once you’ve organised your accommodation, eyed up a part time job and arranged a budget, you’re almost ready to get started with student life in Australia – try not to make your friends at home too jealous!
There are a few other things you may want to check before you go though.
Travel and transportation
Most of Australia’s universities are located in the eastern part of the country, in the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, though there is a small but significant group of universities in Western Australia.
You can travel between cities by road or rail, but journeys further afield (such as to Perth, on the western coast) are better made by plane. All of Australia’s university cities are well served with airports.
Within cities you’ll be able to get around on bus services and other forms of local public transport. Depending on your needs you should budget around AUD $30-60 per week for travel (USD $22-45).
Money and banking
You can open a bank account while studying abroad in Australia provided you have proof of identification and address. This may be more convenient than using an account held in your home country – particularly if you need to manage regular income from a job or funding from a scholarship.
If you are applying from the UK or Ireland through Study Options, they can help you set up a bank account in Australia before you leave home.
The best way to choose a bank account is probably to pick a branch in your local area – particularly if you want regular access to ATM machines and other facilities. Some banks may provide special products or services for international students, including HELP with money transfer and exchanges.
You’ll need Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) while living abroad in Australia. If you are travelling to Australia on your own, this is best purchased from the university directly at the point of accepting your offer – although OSHC policies can be purchased from a range of providers, with various levels of cover. OSHC costs roughly AUD $600 per year (USD $450).
See the Australian Government's Study in Australia page for more information.
Search for a Masters in Australia
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