The only area in the entire world that is both a country and a continent, Australia is a place like no other to experience as a study destination. Read our Study in Australia guide to find out why!
The Land Down Under, as Australia is fondly termed by the other nations, is the 6th biggest country in the world. It should come as no surprise to find that a land as vast as Australia is full with cultures from all corners of the world, creating a fantastically diverse population in addition to its large aboriginal heritage.
With so many from all over the world continuing to migrate to and becoming a part of the Australian nation, no one is a newcomer; as many communities have their own culture pockets, helping those from their motherlands settle into their new home and exist peacefully with Australia’s natives.
Australia’s location as being a bit out of the way from the rest of the world has made it a strong international presence in a huge variety of categories. From natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, to man-made monuments such as the iconic Sydney Opera House; and completely one-of-a-kind landscapes and wildlife such as found in Tasmania - there is always something for everyone; from the familiar bustling of major cities to the great outdoors for trekking and off-road exploring.
One of the top three most targeted destinations for studying abroad, Australia has an international student population of over 500,000 - a majority of them being from the region of South Asia.
As the higher education sector is one of Australia’s most successful and largest exports, Australia’s most prolific areas are often its “student cities” which rank among the top cities in the world that are student-friendly. In 2017, three major cities made it to the Top 20 destinations for students, with Melbourne at 5th, Sydney at 13th and Brisbane at 20th.
Australia's education system has been acknowledged to be of excellent quality, with many institutions earning high placements in world ranking lists for all educational categories and having international certification for providing globally recognised courses - enabling a graduate from an Australian university to gain employment from virtually anywhere in the world.
Most Australian universities offer a standard pathway for higher education, with a Bachelor’s Degree and Doctorate Degree spanning 3-4 years, and Masters for about 1-4 years. It is quite usual for students to undertake combined degrees, as the Australian system is flexible enough for one to major in both arts and sciences, or engineering and commerce, or even business and law degrees simultaneously.
Go8 - Australia's leading universities in research and higher education
Australia's best, largest and oldest institutions are collectively known as the Group of Eight (Go8). They are known for specializing in intensive research and are renowned globally for excellent quality in providing higher education.
- The University of Western Australia
- Monash University
- Australian National University
- The University of Adelaide
- The University of Queensland
- The University of Melbourne
- UNSW Sydney
- The University of Sydney
Study durations in Australia are fairly straightforward - two semesters per year, one beginning in March and the second half commencing in July, with a three-month summer break from November to January. As a student, these three months are open for you to either find some part-time employment, internship opportunities, or to return home to catch up with family and friends.
While studying can almost always become a chore, Australian education is popular for incorporating practical assignments and independent learning into their curriculum. This way, you as a student can ensure to receive an education that encompasses both lifelong learning and some hands-on savvy in kickstarting your pathway to your dream career.
Many Australian top universities also run exchange programmes or have local counterparts in many countries all over Asia as part of a global education reach. Should you feel like you are not yet ready to pursue your degree in a whole new country, the Australian institutions come to you! Feel free to complete most of your studies in your own country, and spend only one semester in Australia for the study abroad experience.
What to study in Australia?
Some of the most sought-after courses in Australian higher education are Psychology, Engineering, Business, Economics and Social Science. Australia is popular for flexible modules in which students can choose units to tailor their education to their specific needs and interests.
Entry Requirements for Australian Universities
First of all, you must be proficient in the English language, as all academic courses and transactions will be conducted in formal English. As a foreigner, understanding the real Australian way of speaking and slang may take a little practice; but be brave and keep interacting outside the classroom and you will be fine.
Did you know?
“Let’s put a shrimp on the barbie!” is from an Australian tourism ad broadcasted in the USA in the late 1980s and has remained a popular image associated with Australia until today. Australians actually prefer prawns.
Formally, admission into an Australian university often requires a proper English as a Second Language certification, of which can be obtained through passing one of the following:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Occupational English Test (OET)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English)
To increase the chances of you gaining entry into an Australian higher education institution, you must take care to first study in a recognised foundation level, preferably in line with the Australian matriculation. For example, Monash University would favor students who have taken the Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY) over those who had not. Keep an eye out for AUSMAT programmes!
Typical acceptance criteria (STPM/Foundation/Pre-U results)
- SPM is equivalent to the Australian Secondary School Certificate (Year 10)
- STPM results are equivalent to Australian Senior Secondary Certificate (Year 12)
* When applying with SPM results for entry level courses and STPM results for degree courses, some courses may require credits (C and above) in specific subjects.
Additionally, an acceptance letter or offer letter from a university in Australia will help with the application processes.
When to apply to study in Australia?
Australian universities typically operate in terms throughout the year. A year holds two semesters, so the peak time to apply to study in Australia for an undergraduate degree would be:
Mid October to mid-November: first semester application period. The first semester begins in March.
Mid-April to mid-May: second semester application period. The second semester begins in July.
** Intake and semester commencement dates may vary by institution, so it is best to double-check with the university you are applying to!
As a Malaysian student entering Australia for the purposes of education, a specific visa is required. To begin the application process, you must first refer to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website under STUDENT for the requirements for a student visa.
Alongside results for the English as a Second Language certification, you must also provide evidence of sufficient funds enough to cover your tuition, living and travel expenses. For living expenses, a sum of AU$20,290* (RM60150) at least must be stated. Alternately, your parents must provide proof of earning an annual sum of at least AU$60,000* (RM177870) <*as of 2018> and a statement declaring their agreement to support you financially.
On some occasions, you might be required to undergo medical examination and/or radiology with a doctor approved by the Australian immigration department. This may be especially pertaining to those who wish to study in the field of medicine, nursing and dentistry. All future students are also required to own Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) in conjunction with their student visa commencement and are not allowed to enter Australia before the OSHC is valid.
Your student visa grant period will be valid for the duration of your course, which is usually for 10 months or longer.
Should your course be less than 10 months, you student visa will be valid for not more than a month after your course ends.
The Australian student visa is not usually granted for more than five years.
* Print this out to make sure you got everything you need to go study in Australia!
Australia’s top universities for studying abroad in are all located in the country’s major cities.
Australia’s second-largest city, the capital of Victoria is among the most popular for the study abroad destinations in Australia and the world. It is arguably the biggest student city worldwide, with over eight major universities based in the area and over 300,000 students, with a third of international origin. Home to Australia’s best and brightest, the most popular top universities are found here, and its vibrant and welcoming life with seasonal climate makes the perfect target for students from anywhere in the world. Melbourne is also popular for sports, encouraging the teamwork and interaction all healthy students need.
- Did you know?
Melbourne has been voted World’s Most Livable City for seven years running!
While not the capital of Australia, as is commonly mistaken, Sydney is Australia’s most happening city; containing the best for research universities, and has been voted as the best city for immigration. Australia’s entertainment and transit hub, Sydney’s almost tropical climate and international disposition ensures a fun, lively environment for all urban lovers and its fast-paced economy makes it the best place in Australia to find corporate opportunities post-graduation.
- Here's a tip!
Sydney is known as the most expensive Australian city, and the 10th most expensive city to live in globally. Plan your finances well if you decide to stay here!
The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is Australia’s number two of student cities. A sub-tropical haven for all, this city is loved by international students from warmer climates and those who are more comfortable in less-dense environments compared to mega-cities like Melbourne and Sydney.
Australia’s capital city, and one of its few inland cities, Canberra is the country’s most developed, with easy access roads leading right through its heart and out to the other major cities. It is also surrounded by many nature reserves and parks, and is connected to many suburban living areas for convenience. Although smaller than the other major cities, Canberra’s universities rank top for teaching quality and overall reputation in all of Australia.
Cost of living as a student in Australia
Each course will be differently priced by universities due to the varying, specialised facilities you will need for each field (like medicine students need access to hospital facilities, engineering students need workspaces, etc).
|Foundation / Pre-U||15,000 - 37,000||44,600 - 110,000|
|Diploma||4,000 - 22,000||12,000 - 65,000|
|Bachelor's degree||30,000 - 50,000||89,000 - 149,000|
|Masters degree||20,000 - 37,000||59,000 - 110,000|
|PhD||14,000 - 37,000||41,000 - 110,000|
*Tuition prices in MYR are subject to conversion from AUD
Living in each city in Australia will also require varying living costs, as some cities may cater more to working adults and tourists, such as the major city of Sydney, or to students and locals, as in the smaller township of Canberra. Financial planning is key here, so be wise in knowing when to save and when to spend!
As of February 2018, the Australian government estimated that a student would need about A$ 20,290 per year, or RM60,106; which works out to around RM5,000 per month.
- As a foreigner under a student visa, you can work for a maximum of 40 hours over the course of two weeks during your study period, and unlimited hours during your semester breaks. Remember to get a Tax File Number to validate your working in Australia!
- If you are a student in Australia for masters by research or a doctoral degree, there is no limit to the number of hours you can work.
After that big chunk of your life is over, what lies in the immediate future for you?
Should you feel like your pursuit is not over, simply renew your visa and health care plans as soon as you can provide proof of finance to continue studying and living in Australia. Pursuing a Masters or a Graduate Diploma can vary from a Bachelor’s Degree, so be sure of your next duration of study, where it is going to be, and how much it costs.
Going home may incite some exciting relief in going back to a familiar environment, but remember to keep track of all the things you needed to do to stay in Australia. Cancel services, pay off bills, sell or give away possessions you can’t bring home with you, end your house lease and return the keys (if you are renting). Double-check with your university for qualifications to perform internationally for work purposes, especially if you come from a specialised field like Medicine, Engineering, Law or Accounting.
Stay in Australia
You don’t have to be a student to continue staying in Australia! Applying for a work or travel visa may take a bit more research and will be more temporary than a student visa, but take this time to gain employment, or spend some quality time travelling around Australia for leisure.
Gain permanent residence
Applying for a Skilled Recognised Graduate Visa will be the first step towards an application for PR in Australia as you will be spending 18 month as an employee on Australian ground. Do note however that applicants that stand to be granted this visa are graduates from specialised fields, notably engineers.
Here's a tip!
As a Malaysian student, keep checking in with the Department of Home Affairs for existing visa statements. Your status as a student, while welcomed, must be kept up-to-date as to ensure legibility to remain in Australia without any issue.