Australia is among the top destinations for those looking for an exceptional study abroad experience. This big, beautiful country with a laid-back vibe offers international students a world-class education and a great quality of life.
1. Confirm your passport is valid
If your passport is due to expire within the next 12 months, you may want to renew it before you move to Australia. You might find it to be more difficult to renew your passport once you're overseas. Dual citizens should travel on their Australian passports, but they can use their foreign passport once out of the country.
2. Apply for the necessary visas
All student visas fall under the visa Subclass 500. These include visas for higher education studies; vocational education and training (VET); and post-grad research. The Department of Home Affairs website is a good place to start for any visa or immigration-related questions.
To study in Australia, you need to make an application for an Australian student visa after you've received a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from your chosen university. In order to get a CoE, you must have been given a formal offer by the university; accepted it in writing; and paid the required deposit toward your tuition fees. Once the visa has been granted it will allow you to study in Australia for up to 5 years.
3. Check your health and travel insurance
To study in Australia, you'll need a visa. And to get a visa, you'll need health insurance. International students must apply for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and maintain their coverage for the duration of their stay. There are some exclusions to this healthcare plan, so some students opt for extra coverage through a private insurer. Currently, Belgian, Swedish and Norwegian students are exempt from the OSHC if they're covered under their own national healthcare plan.
OSHC will not cover you when you're travelling in and out of Australia. It won't cover you for lost baggage, delayed flights or lost valuables either, so it's also wise to have travel insurance.
Check out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for more details on health insurance, or the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship for up-to-date information.
4. Set up your banking
How will you move and then access your money in Australia? How will you pay bills, start saving or have a means of day-to-day expenditure?
You could open up a bank account online before you go, but many banks will still require you to go into the branch in person once you arrive before you can access your money. Others may offer credit cards, but without Australian credit history you might not be eligible.
A solution? You may need to set up an overseas bank account with global benefits in advance of your travels. This means you will have your bank account details, debit or credit card prior to your departure.
5. Book travel and accommodation
Australia is, really far away, no matter where you're starting from. Be prepared to book your flights well in advance, in addition to researching your accommodation. There are many temporary and long-term accommodation options within the cities or the suburbs.
Unlike in the US, it's not as common in Australia for students to live on campus while going to university. International students may also prefer a rental apartment instead. These units will usually come unfurnished, and you'll have to pay rent in advance, utilities, and most likely a "bond" (security deposit).
The Study in Australia page on the government website can give you more information on finding accommodation in Australia.
6. Update your mailing address
Once you have sorted out your accommodation, make sure any mail that you need to have sent to you whilst you're away is forwarded to your new address in Australia.
7. Create a budget to cover costs
Australia is one of the most popular destinations for international students, and one of the priciest. Aside from tuition, visa fees, flights and accommodation, there may be other costs you'll have to save for, like the compulsory healthcare and optional (but recommended) travel insurance. Then there's everything in between, from new clothes and furnishings to reading materials and textbooks.
Want to know what it costs to study in Australia, and what parents are spending their money on? Our Value of Education: the price of success study looks at global trends and practical steps for planning an international education.
8. Begin saving
Once you have your budget, set yourself a savings goal so you'll be ready when the time comes to move. Make sure your goal is achievable so you're able to stay on track by either saving a little each month or cutting back on things when you can.
Perhaps you might want to apply for scholarships or grants before you arrive? The Australian government gives out AUS200 million a year in scholarships to international students. Apply early and often and hopefully you can add this to your savings if you're eligible.
Take advantage of student discounts, like those for mobile phone plans, travel, clothing and entertainment.
9. Start your job search
You may need some extra spending money, so how about working while you're studying in Australia? Once you arrive and before starting a job, you'll need to apply for a Tax File Number, which you can do online. Full-time students with a valid student visa can work up to 40 hours every 2 weeks. International students are protected by labour laws like everyone else, and can expect to make at least minimum wage. This is currently set at AUD19.84 an hour if you're 21 or older. You can find the most up-to-date information on the Australian government's Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Students who plan to stay on after graduation will need to apply for a work visa before their student visa expires.
If you're applying for a job before you arrive and make it through the first round, apply for your check out our tips on how to ace your virtual interview.
10. Do a health check
You may need vaccinations before you enter Australia, especially if you will be undertaking studies or work within a public health facility. Undergraduate and post-grad students working in a clinical setting in New South Wales are required to submit their entire immunisation records. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend that travellers to Australia get hepatitis A and B, rabies, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and chickenpox vaccinations, as well as be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
To check the current recommendations for travelers entering the country, please see here.
If you have a prescription, you need to check that it's allowed into the country. For more information, see the government website.
11. Unlock your phone
If your phone is unlocked from your current network provider, you'll be able to use it with any SIM card. This makes it a lot easier when you arrive in Australia and you don't want to buy another phone. If you're planning to buy a new phone, most are now sold unlocked so you can shop around for your phone provider.
12. Triple check all documentation
In the final couple of days, make sure you have all the relevant documentation ready. This will include your passport, visa, driving license, vaccination records, travel tickets, education record and any tax information.
You'll need to show your proof of payment and confirmation of your OSHC health insurance when you arrive in Australia, so keep it handy for it when you arrive.
13. Confirm you're not bringing in restricted items (and then confirm again)
Australia is notoriously strict about what you cannot bring into the country. Being so geographically isolated, it's imperative that travellers do not, even inadvertently, bring in pests or disease. Rumour has it that there are over 20,000 items on the government's "potentially hazardous" list. What does this mean for you? Declare everything or risk heavy fines. The most common no-nos are fresh fruit, homemade food, raw nuts, eggs and dairy products. Tobacco is also a prohibited import as are some medicines, so check them all.
See if you can bring it in on the Australian Border Force website.