Whether it’s for the white-sand beaches of the Gold Coast, Sydney's iconic architecture, the hipster cafes and tap-rooms of Melbourne or the fact that you don’t need to learn another language, UK students looking for an overseas study adventure continue to flock to Australia in their droves. Though it may be easier to acclimatise to the language barrier (just remember, thongs are something entirely different over there) getting to grips with student finances once you’re down under can still be a little tricky.
So, we sat down with Millie, a former student at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, for a quick chat about how she managed her finances in ‘Stralia. We then threw together some other key facts to help you get started.
What tips would you give to someone who’s off to study in Australia?
Be aware of how expensive the first month is. You’ll most likely have to buy kitchenware, bed sheets and other essentials like that in your first month, so have a bit of extra money.
If you’re going to Australia then you will not have the summer to work as their term starts earlier, so keep this in mind. I came out here with no savings and so I am now looking for a job and it's not easy to get one on a student visa!
Research the cost of living in the place you're going to study in. The high cost of rent and alcohol in Australia took me by surprise and I was not prepared.
Get an Australian phone contract as soon as you get out here. A lot of the time they’re actually cheaper than phone contracts back in the UK and you get a lot more for them. I went with Vodafone and I get 500mins free international calls so I can call home anytime and it means I can use 4G without it costing the world.
Finally, going out is quite expensive in Australia, especially the cost of alcohol. The best thing me and my friends have discovered to do on weekends is rent an Air BnB for the weekend between about 10 or 15 of us, the more the better as it makes it cheaper. It costs about $50 to cover the price of the house and then we put in an extra $10 and do a big food shop to last the whole weekend. Honestly, this is so much more fun (and a lot cheaper) than a night out, which you can do in England anyway, and we’ve seen some amazing places and had the best weekends.
What financial arrangements did you make before you left for Australia?
Before I arrived I set up an Australian bank account with Commonwealth Bank. You can set it up from the UK before you arrive and put money in it, but you can’t access that money until you are out in Australia and have gone into your chosen branch to show them your ID and verify your account. I also changed up some money so that I had $200 in cash for when I was out there to last me until I had activated my bank account.
The day after I got there I went to Commonwealth Bank to verify my account. They are meant to have your bank card printed and ready to give to you but there had been a mix up with mine so I was told that they would have to send it to me in the post and this could take up to two weeks. However, it wasn’t too much of a problem because they set me up with an app on my phone where I could get money out of any ATM.
Are there any extra loans/help you received from the local council/government whilst abroad or from your UK university?
I didn’t get any extra loans, although my student finance did increase a little bit. Everyone else I have spoken to seems to have received a travel grant but this was never offered to me from student finance, so if you’re about to go on a year abroad I would call up student finance and ask them about this directly.
Studying Abroad in Australia: Key Facts
How do I apply to study in Australia?
You’ll need to have been accepted onto a course and been sent a letter of enrolment when applying for a student visa. You’ll need to apply to the universities individually.
What are the student visa requirements?
This can differ depending on what and where you’re studying. But typically you’ll need the following:
How much will I be looking to spend in advance?
To apply for a Student Visa it costs $575 and tuition fees vary depending on where and what you’re studying. Fees start at around $20,000 per year, but the average fee is often over $30,000.
Are there any language requirements?
You may have to take an English language test to prove you’ll be able to get by once you’re over there. The difficulty of these tests can differ from one university to another.
Do I need health insurance?
Yep. Australia has a special health insurance system for overseas students called the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). You’ll need to sort this out before you arrive and maintain the cover until you go home.
The average cost of minimum cover for one person is $500 for 12 months. There are often discounts for couples and families.
To make things a bit easier, you can have your university organise it for you once you’ve been accepted onto a course.
Can I work while studying?
Yes, but only once you’ve started studying. You can work up to 40 hours every two weeks during term time and as much you like outside of it.