Calculus And Crocodiles: What you need to know about post secondary education in Australia

Calculus And Crocodiles: What you need to know about post secondary education in Australia

Sun, sand, surf and studying. Ever dream about post secondary in Australia? Here’s a breakdown of all you need to know.

What to study

Research the program best suited to you. Whether it is Landscape Architecture at the University of Adelaide in South Wales or Tropical Vet Science at James Cook University in Queensland, researching the right program is a must. A great website for checking out all the universities available to you is the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee site. Go to and select “Australia’s Universities.” Most of the university websites have a section devoted to international students to answer any additional questions you may have.

Some questions to ask yourself

Before you settle on a program, ask yourself, “do I have all the requirements for this course/degree?” If you have an art history degree and you want to sign up for post grad studies in Aquaculture at the U of Queensland, you’d better do some checking to ensure that you qualify.

Also ask, “can I use this degree in my home country?” If you want professional accreditation in your country, will this degree get you that? And don’t forget about future suitability, Sure marine studies sounds interesting, but are you still planning that move to Saskatchewan?

Another thing to consider is that almost all schools require English language proficiency.

Apply for studies

At most of Australia’s university websites you can apply online, or request an application form. Some schools, such as the University of Melbourne, have overseas representatives that you can contact. Make sure that you are prepared to include full details of any secondary or post secondary studies you have completed, and possibly proof of English language proficiency.


Be aware that you might be required to pay full tuition fees before applying for your student visa, so start saving up now. The average tuition fees range between $8000-$12,000 (CDN). Check with the particular university, and your own government for scholarships and funding available. Expect to spend around $350 a week for cost of living.

Still waiting for rich Aunt Hilda to kick? Spent your last dime on Pac Man? There are some options available to you. Consider a short-term stay such as an internship or semester exchange. Many universities have these options available for international students.

Do you want fries with that? With a student visa you can work twenty hours a week during school, and full time during vacation periods. While you are there, why not give Aunt Hilda something to do? Family members (spouse and/or dependants) who come with you can also get permission to work up to twenty hours a week, or full-time if you’re obtaining a masters or doctorate. Other (non-dependent) family members can apply for temporary residence in Australia. Apply for permission to work at the same time as applying for your student visa. See for more information on working and studying in Australia.

Applying for Your Visa

You have your sunscreen ready and a pocketful of cash, now what? Before paying tuition, contact the Australian embassy in your country to make sure you are eligible for a student visa (in Canada contact The most important step is applying for your student visa, but there are some things you need first: a letter of offer from the university you plan to attend, and health insurance. Sometimes health insurance is covered in the fee to the university, who will pay the insurer for you. If you’re not sure, find out from your contact at the university.

After all that there are a few routes you can take to apply. You can request the application from the Australian Embassy in your country (check out the Australian department of immigration website for contacts in your country: ) and mail or drop it off in person, or you can apply online. Check out for all the tools you need to apply for a student visa and permission to work. They have some great information to download.

Pack your bags

Ok your dog’s fed, your teeth are brushed, and you’re ready to go. Well, not quite yet. After you have received your student visa it’s time to make travel arrangements and research accommodations. Plan to arrive two to four weeks prior to your first day of classes (the Australian school year starts in February and ends in October- our winter is their summer). Acquaint yourself with the city, attend all orientation classes and seminars at your university and look for a part time job, if needed. Oh yeah, you might want to set up a bank account and convert some of your money to Australian dollars.

Need a place to hang your hat? Try living on campus. For example, the University of Tasmania has campus housing available for $3200 (AUS) a year. Research the type of residences available. Single rooms and catered residences will be more expensive, but worth it if you need time alone or don’t have time to cook.

If you want off-campus housing, ask the university for an off-campus rental list. Don’t rent sight unseen though. Stay at a youth hostel or motel for a few weeks while you house/apartment hunt. Check out for listings of hostels in the area and some neat travel tips.

Try to arrange, if you can, for someone from your school to meet you at the airport and show you around. Many universities have representatives that are hired to do just that. If you plan on doing any driving, go to a local license bureau and inquire about obtaining an overseas driver’s license. You might need your home province or country to fax a driver’s abstract, so keep those phone numbers handy.

Once you’ve settled in, be sure to inform the University of your new address and phone number. Oh yeah, don’t forget to call your mom. As for me, I’ll be sitting in my beach chair having a middy, watching Crocodile Dundee, and staring at the snow.

Some Interesting Australian Slang
(taken from the Dictionary of Australian Slang at:

Av-ago-yer-mug – to encourage someone to put more effort into it
Big Smoke – the city
Bottlo – liquor store
Cakehole – the mouth
Date – the buttocks (a date roll is toilet paper)
Down the road – term indicating no particular range of distance, could be a few hundred metres or a few hundred kilometres
Dinkum – fair, honest
Full as a boot – drunk
Get Stuffed – go away
Middy – a middle sized glass of beer
Spit the Dummy – get very upset
Tinny – a can of beer
Up a gum tree – having difficulties
Wally – someone who keeps making mistakes