Things you may not know about Partner VISA Application

Every year many couples with foreign partners apply for the popular Partner Visa.Whilst the process seems simple at first sight, the lengthy process, paperwork and cost can place a lot of pressure on individuals if they are unsure what to expect. Minor errors or inadequacy of documents could lead to possible rejection without refund or significant delays in granting the Visa. To avoid any avoidable mistakes, you need to be well-informed about the process.

Here are some little known facts and we are also touching significant changes to the Partner Visa in the near future. 

It is expensive

The Australian Partner Visa is one of the most expensive Visas, with a rough estimate of AUD 7,000 application fee. In addition, we also need to factor in the costs for medical examination, police checks and Migration agent, which ranges between AUD 3,000 to 5,000. The application fee had increased significantly from last three to four years.

Types of Partner Visa

There are the two ways to obtain the Partner Visa: de facto or married. The former, de facto, is eligible if you and your partner lived to together for over 12 months. There is no intent for marriage required for this stream of Partner Visa. If you are married, you need not have lived together at the point of applying for the Visa. In both instances, you require evidence of genuine and on-going relationship. 

Importance of evidence

Many believe proving a relationship is easy now a days thanks to social media and shutterbugs. As there are many false applications, Department of Home Affairs scrutinise every detail. If there are any question marks, there is a tendency for the application to be rejected. It is important to share financial evidence, co-habitation evidence and social evidence. This includes, joint bills, assets co-owned, joint bank accounts with consistent activity.

Speaking of consistency, you need address any inconsistency in your relationship. For example, your case officer will cross-check your statements against social media. If you have been consistently posting your relationship on social media and stopped, explain the reason for the hiatus. 

It is difficult to prove a relationship where you haven’t lived together, especially long-distance relationship. In these instances, you will require statements from friends and family who are Citizens or Permanent Residents of Australia reflecting their knowledge of and vouching for the relationship. The key is to make the statements detailed and consistent to your cover letter and other evidence like social media posts. In addition, photographs (don’t submit albums!), social media posts and joint travel stamps will serve as evidence. 

When your application is being processed the Visa officer consider the below four aspects of the relationship.

  • Nature of household
  • Financial aspect of the relationship
  • Social aspect of the relationship
  • Nature of commitment to each other

You can access the below document to understand what each refers to. Having substantial evidence for each of these will help strengthen your application to prove genuinity of the relationship.

Attaching evidence

Any documents attached as a part of your application must be clear, complete and less than 5 MB in size. If it doesn’t meet the requirements, processing of the application maybe delayed.

Full disclosure

Apply what you learnt at school, honesty is the best policy. It is important even minor offences and inconsistencies in your relationship are disclosed. If it comes to light any information is false or incomplete, it could lead to rejection or worse you may be barred from applying for the visa for a several years. Especially ensure the Information represented on Form 80 – Character Assessment is accurate. 

All relationships undergo difficulties, some applicants state these on their statements. Be sure not to paint a picture that you are about to break-up.

Take health checks seriously

All applicants, referring to spouse and children, are required to take a health check. The Australian authorities take this very seriously as they are concerned for the well-being of the Australian community and also possible burdens on the Australian healthcare system. Even if the children are not planning to move to Australia, it is required for them to undergo a health check as they may return to Australia in the next few years. 

Longer processing time

Currently, there is a wait time of 12 to 18 month wait time for Partner Visa. The main reason for this is because the Department of Immigration limit the number of applications processed within an year, but there is double the number of applicants pending results. You need to be mindful that some documents such as Medical assessment and police checks may expire within this processing time. You will be required to provide these documents once again. Further, on shore applications take longer than off shore and prospective marriage visa.

Prospective changes to legislation

In December 2018, a new Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill was passed through Parliament. As per the amendment, the sponsor (partner who is an Australian Permanent Resident or Citizen) must lodge a sponsorship application and have it approved prior to applying for the partner visa. The processing time for the sponsorship application could take up to 12 months. It is still unclear as to when this will commence.

If you have any question in relation to your Partner Visa process, write to us at admin@intstudi.com

All You Need to Know About Temporary Graduate 485 Visa as an International Student

If you just graduated – firstly, congratulations – secondly, if you are unsure what to do next, you may want to consider applying for the Temporary Graduate 485 Visa. For all International Students, I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Australian government for you to gain skilled Australian work experience. Even for those who are still deliberating whether to study in Australia or what course to select, this article will facilitate your long-term plan of permanently migrating to Australia.

I am going to break down everything you need to know about Temporary Graduate 485 Visa and how to apply for it.

What is subclass 485 visa?

In colloquial terms this is also known as “Work Visa” or “Temporary Resident (TR) Visa” – all of this most likely are being referred to the subclass 485 visa. This visa is offered to International Students who have completed a minimum of two years of studies in Australia. The visa allows you to stay in the country for two to four years with unfettered work rights. During this time you may study full-time as well (I will tell you why this may be a necessity. Keep reading).

Why is it offered?

This was introduced in 2008, and in my opinion highly useful for International Students to obtain skilled Australian work experience. I also consider it to be a transition period for you to a) decide if you wish to be in Australia b) work on the next step like Permanent Residency.

Gaining points for PR

You are able to gain five extra points if you have one to three years of experience in the field that you are applying under the Skilled Occupation (SO) list. It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway. Use this visa as an opportunity to get the five extra points you require to get you over the line for the points required for Permanent Residency.

Further, if there are units required to be eligible under the SO list, you can enrol for those units in particular during the course of the visa.

Eligibility requirements

Being eligible for this visa is quite simple if you know the exact criteria.

  1. Hold a valid visa and is the primary applicant.
    • Either you are currently holding a student visa after completing at least two years of studies in Australia.
    • Or you must be in a Bridging visa A or Bridging visa B after completing at least two years of studies in Australia within the last six months of lodging 485 visa.
  2. Under 50 years of age.
  3. Meet the minimum English language requirement, which is 6 in IELTS or equivalent. You can use the same one that you used for the student visa, provided it is not expired.
  4. Does not hold any criminal record and does not have any outstanding debt to the Australian government.

How to apply for 485 visa?

If you meet the above criteria it is very unlikely you will be rejected as you have the eligibility to obtain the 485. However, there are chances it may be rejected due to errors by the applicant through incorrect processing or failure to provide required or proper documentation. I have listed everything that you need to do to in order to ensure there are no delays or rejections.

Two types of 485 visa

I think this is the first mistake: selecting the wrong type of 485 visa. If you select the wrong category, it may either be rejected or granted for a shorter period.

  1. 485 Graduate Work – if you have studied for a course below Bachelor’s degree and has the occupation under skill list, you may apply through Graduate Work category. This will be granted for 18 months.
  2. 485 Post Study Work – is the most commonly used category, and you can apply if have completed a Bachelor’s or higher and meet the two-year study requirement. You will be granted a visa for two years or four years if you have completed a Post Graduate research.

When to apply?

At the time you apply you must have completed your studies in Australia for at least two years. You need not wait until graduation but once your final results are released, you can request for a letter of completion and final transcript from the University admin. A small fee will be charged by the University for processing these documents.

When you complete your studies, the University is legally required to inform Department of Home Affairs that you have completed your studies. So if you depart Australia for a holiday right after completion of studies without applying for 485 visa, there is a possibility your current student visa will be cancelled and you will not be allowed to enter the country on return. The reason being, it may be assumed you are leaving upon completion of studies. Therefore, it is recommended that you apply for the 485 visa prior to any overseas travel after completing your course.

Documents required

Click below to access the list of documents you require and you should start gathering whatever you are able to well in advance to avoid delays.

Document checklist for Temporary Graduate 485 Visa

According to the Department of Home Affairs website, “provide certified copies of original documents. Do not include original documents unless specifically asked for them. Police certificates should be original documents. Documents not in English must be accompanied by accredited English translations.”

Can you do it yourself?

Most definitely! It is an extremely easy process and you can save some good money by doing it yourself. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. There is plenty of guidance online and still if nothing makes sense, simply contact Department of Home Affairs on 131 881. Be sure to contact them first thing in the morning to avoid being in the call queue for an hour.

All you need to make sure is that:

  • your documents are in order as per the checklist,
  • the documents are true copies,
  • the documents certified and quality scans,
  • you have selected the correct category as shown above.

How much does it cost?

Usually you will hear only about the application fee. But there are other fees you  have to pay in order to obtain the required documents. These costs are likely to change, so always refer to the respective websites linked below.

Application fee

The general application fee for an individual applicant is from $1,535.00. This cost will change depending on other factors such as dependence (spouse or children) and whether you lodge the application online or offline. Get an accurate estimate from Department of Home Affairs.

Police check

For overseas police checks, you will have to check from the relevant department in the foreign country. The national police check from the Australian Federal Police  will cost $42.00.

Health assessment

An Australian immigration health check-up is required to lodge the 485 visa. This must be carried out by an authorised Bupa heath centre. This visa requires a medical examination and a chest x-ray costing $232.60 and $280.00, respectively.

Medical insurance

It is hard to give an estimate as your medical insurances will vary depending on your requirements. You will require private insurance under Visitor Cover and the insurer is able to advise what is best suited as per your requirement. One of the cheapest and popular providers would be Bupa of approximately $1,200.00 a year and could be paid on a month to month basis.

If you have any questions relating to your 485 visa application, write to us on admin@intstudi.com. One of our Happy Helpers will be in touch.

Until next time…

Use Public Transport in Sydney to Your Advantage

If you are new to Sydney, you will soon realise the difficulty in navigating through the city of similar street corners, never-ending streets and by-roads every 10 steps. I referred to it as a maze because when I moved here, I more often get lost or walk for 20 minutes to realise I am back where  I started. Good times! Since I did not have wheels at the time, I relied on public transport, it was dependable, cheaper than hailing a taxi and less strenuous than walking.

New South Wales (NSW) has the best public transport network in all of seven states, hands-down. Having quality public transport can be highly beneficial, especially for International Students, to explore and get around the new city. Transport is fairly reliable, apart from the unexpected delays; but coming from a developing country where delays are so frequent, I consider this a premier service. Obviously, nothing of quality comes cheap. The travel fares are relatively expensive to other states. Worse part is that NSW and Victoria are the only states in Australia that don’t offer concessions to International Students. I heard on the grapevine that this will be changing soon, but for now we have to live with it.

In this post, I will address how to efficiently and effectively get around using public transport.

Sydney trains

 

Purchase an Opal card

adult opal card

Opal is a smart travel card that allows travel on buses, trains, light rail and ferries by simply reloading with a minimum of $10.00. This reusable public transport card has no setup cost – you only incur the cost you wish to reload. Buying an Opal card is about $2.00 cheaper per trip than purchasing single travel tickets. International Students in NSW must purchase the Adult Card (not the Student Card). You can purchase and reload your card from Opal website, 7-Eleven or at any of the 2100 authorised Opal retailers. I would advise against purchasing through unauthorised sellers on online sites like Gum Tree.

Remember to tap-on and off

site_197_cantonese_467994

For an accurate fare calculation, you must tap-on when you start your journey and tap-off at the end of the journey. If you forget to tap-on there is a likelihood you will be fined up to $400.00 if you get caught to a random ticket-checkers. There is no way you can evade paying for travel, so don’t even take the risk. If you forget to tap-off, you will be automatically charged the price of a full journey.

Take advantage of travel concessions

Who doesn’t want to know how to reduce their travel cost? I most certainly did when I was an International Student.

Avoid peak travel

Peak hours are on weekdays between 7.00 am to 9.00 am and 3.45 pm to 6.30 pm. You can travel at 3/4 the cost if you travel outside these hours. What’s important is that you tap-on your card before the peak period begins. For instance, if you tap-on at 6.59 am, you will be charged the off-peak fare even though your final arrival time is within the peak hours. Plan your travels ahead, and avoid non-essential travels during these times. Next time if your train is at 9.05 am, don’t be shy, stick around and tap-on at 9.01 am.

Plan long travels on Sunday

Ferry ride in Sydney

Fancy a day trip to Manly in ferry or take the morning train to Blue Mountains? Save these trips for a Sunday because there is a daily cap, you pay no more than $2.70 no matter where and which public transport method you use. This is a smart way to save on travel costs for long distance travel and expensive modes like the ferry.

Do short trips at beginning of the week

This tip doesn’t apply to those who live close to the University, but relevant for those who travel on a regular basis.

Opal has a weekly travel rewards – after eight paid journeys, rest of the travel for the week is at half rate. Remember, if you make a transfer (eg. train to bus) to reach your destination, that is considered as one paid journey.

Try to do short travels, like travelling to the local supermarket or mall, between Mondays and Wednesdays. This way you can reach your weekly travel reward quicker and enjoy rest of the week at half rate.

Finish your errands within 60 minutes

If you make several transfers from the same mode of transport within 60 minutes of tapping off, it counts as a single travel. Say you take the bus to the local Woollies, if you can catch the return bus within 60 minutes, you will not be charged for the return travel.

You can calculate your fare online using the fare calculator. This is helpful for budgeting purposes and understand how to minimise your weekly travel costs.

Tapping-on an opal card

Download TripView app

TripView is best $5.00 I spent during my University days. This iOS / Android app is THE Sydney transport app that shows real-time data for all public transport methods. It regularly updates the timetable, shows any delays, disruptions in the network and current passenger capacity. This is especially useful if you are to catch a bus. You will know exactly what time it will be reaching your stop and you don’t have to idle and hold your breath to sight your bus.

Google Maps is your mate

As I mentioned earlier, in the start, it feels like you are living in a maze. Thanks, to Google Maps,  navigating is simple and easy. In NSW, the transport network is integrated into Google Maps. Once you learn to navigate the maps correctly, it becomes quite easy to find the correct bus number, train connections, closet bus stop / train station and the fastest or least transfer route to your destination. I would still refer to TripView for the timetable once I refer Google Maps to pick the best route.

One month after moving to Sydney, one evening, I was navigating through Google Maps as I had to transfer from one bus to another to reach my destination. For my unfortunate circumstance, Google network crashed! I got off the bus at an unknown location, completely lost, and feeling petrified. Long story short, the wonderful people here helped me to get to my destination, but I was late by an hour. Moral is that Google Maps and TripView are apps that may not work in your favour at times. If you ever face such situation, don’t panic, just ask for help from bypassers, bus drivers or station staff – people here are friendly and hospitable.

Public transport Sydney in Google maps

Things to remember

  • If you do not plan on purchasing a vehicle, find accommodation close to public transport (bus stand or train station) and ensure there are direct and frequent transfers to your University.
  • Public transport in regional suburbs are not frequent as in the metropolitan regions.
  • Buses may end as early as 5.30 pm on certain routes, so refer to timetables.
  • Trains do not operate after 12.00 midnight to most suburbs during weekdays, and 1.00 am during weekends.
  • There are direct routes to Airport via buses and trains. Sometimes it can be far cheaper than Uber. The Airport line train cost between $16.00 to $19.00 on Opal (higher than usual), public buses are at normal rate.

Leave a comment if this helped you or if you believe this would have helped when you first arrived as an International Student.

Until next time…

5 Ways to Earn in Australia as International Students

Are you planning to study in Australia as an International Student? Whilst it is the beginning of a rewarding journey, the flip side of the matter is that Australia is ranked world number 32 in the Cost of Living Index. As a result, most International Students work part-time to make ends meet. The silver lining is that there are plenty of jobs in Australia for those who make an effort. Some students actually end up finding great opportunities as a result of part-time work.

If you are interested to know how to earn extra money in Australia, keep reading. There maybe ways that you didn’t know existed!

GETTING STARTED

Tax File Number

First things first, you need to get your Tax-File Number (commonly referred as TFN). With this you will be treated as an Australian-resident for tax purposes and will not be taxed excessively. It is a very simple process that you can complete online at the ATO website.

Fair Work in Australia

As per Fair Work policy in Australia, International Students are allowed work a maximum of 20 paid hours a week during semester and full-time during winter and summer breaks. While it doesn’t seem like a lot of hours, it is considerable given that you are enrolled for full-time studies and undertaking minimum 4 units a semester. So between, attending lectures to working on assignments and preparing for exams, 20 hours is plenty to make the extra buck.

Australia has very strict labour regulations. You have similar rights to an Australian to be offered safe work-environments and paid at least minimum wage. – refer Fair Works pay calculator. Fair Work Australia have published many cases where International Students are exploited, underpaid and overworked. If you are in such situations, immediately report on 13 13 94. You can refer to the Fair Work Ombudsmen website to have a basic understanding of your rights and awards (legal documents that outline the minimum wage rates and conditions of employment in Australia) related to your field.

Write a Resume

This is self-explanatory that you need a well-written resume. I am not going to go in to too much detail on this as it is a significant and standalone topic that is addressed  in our winning strategy to write a resume article.

NEXT…

Now that all the preliminary work is done, it is time to make $$!

Job Sites

job hunting through online sites

This is the most common way to find a part-time job in Australia and you can start your job search on your University Careers page. The advantage in that platform is because postings on this site are not visible to non-students and it is an indication that employers are interested in hiring students from your University. Apart from major job sites like SEEK, Indeed, CaeerOne and Adecco, you can refer to Gum Tree job board. I would actually state that you are likely to find a job as an International Student on the latter site. The common jobs for International Students are in retailing, hospitality and business administration.

Tutoring

Tutors

You can also apply for tutoring positions in subjects that you are confident as a high school or University tutor. You have two options, either respond to adverts on Gum Tree requesting for tutors or advertise your services. General rate for high school and first year University subjects range from $20 to $30 per hour.

Mystery Shopper

mystery shopper

Companies commission other people to act as Mystery Shoppers. As a Mystery Shopper, you will be asked to visit retail stores, cafes, etc. to act as a customer to observe and engage. Later, write a report explaining the experience and submit to the company or agency that hired you. You know what the best part about this? You get to eat food and buy clothes, FREE OF CHARGE; you will be reimbursed for what you spent. Sometimes, this is the payment, where as most companies pay a fee on top of that for your time invested. You can become a mystery shopper by looking for opportunities under the previously mentioned “Job Sites”.

Uber and Uber Eats

If you have your own vehicle and an Australian Driver’s licence, you can consider signing up as a Uber or Uber Eats driver, which is the most flexible job you can have during your studies. There are no schedules, you can choose to be on the road at your convenience. The amount you earn depends on your effort and time you are willing to commit.

Uber is a taxi hiring service, where the customers can request for a taxi through their mobile Uber app. Uber Eats is a food delivery service, where customers can request for food delivery through the mobile app from local restaurants and cafes registered with Uber Eats.

Sounds like your kind of work? Find out if:

  1. You meet the requirements of a Uber Driver? Yes?
  2. Your car meets the vehicle requirement? Yes?
  3. You can cover and exceed your expenses? Yes?

Great, sign up!

Uber Driver

Walk-in Interviews

All you need to do is print out around 10 – 20 copies of your resumes, and walk-in to places around your University and hand in your resume. This works really well for cafes and retailing. Some stores have boards outside with vacancies, these are easy invites for you to walk-in. You can also walk-in to other stores and speak to the manager. I have friends who have been able to land the job right away, while other times they have a chat with you and keep your resume for future. Easy enough, but there are few things you need to be mindful.

  • This is an interview, so dress accordingly. You need not be in formal attire but smart casual is preferred.
  • Turn on your positive and chirpy personality. Most are simply judged based on how you communicate and present yourself and less with what’s on the resume.
  • Avoid morning and lunch hour rush; I would recommend between 10.00 am to 11.30 am or 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm.
  • Be polite. If you think the place looks busy, come again another time.
  • Be quick. You do not have an appointment, so be quick and get to the point. Rehearsing what you want to say might help.
  • If you feel shy or scared, go with a friend you feel comfortable. Let the friend pretend to be a customer and hang around.
  • Try this with small local stores. You might not have much luck at large supermarket chains like Coles or Woollies or department stores, because recruitment is done through head offices.
  • (Brutal) rejections are inevitable. Don’t let it dishearten you.

job interviews

Airtasker

This an online outsourcing company based in Sydney. Anyone, from individuals to small companies, can list tasks / jobs they wish to outsource, ranging from cleaning, deliveries, admin / creative work, etc. If you feel you are able to get the job done, you can offer your services. How does this differentiate from other sites? It is a secured service because Airtasker acts as a middleman for the payment. Once the job is assigned to you, Airtasker will hold the payment safely with them and once you complete the job successfully, Airtasker will release the payment after deducting a small service fee.

Networking, LinkedIn and Social Groups

Finding jobs through social media

There is no better way than landing a job that you love and in your field than networking, and what better site to do this than LinkedIn. This social media platform offers more relevant vacancies based on your skills, work experience, endorsements and connections. While this is more a long-term strategy, you will reap its benefits overtime. Maintain a close relationship at an intellectual level with your lecturers and fellow students during semester, and add them on LinkedIn and sustain the relationship.

There are several active Facebook groups that you can join, where members are posting opportunities ranging from casual to full-time jobs. I feel you are able to communicate with the individual to understand the job requirements prior to applying for the positions. Sydney Jobs, Backpacker Jobs Australia, Melbourne Jobs, Jobs in Brisbane are just a few of many popular job groups on Facebook.

Other easy ways to make money

This option is not a solid way to make money but you can make money fast. Yet, you can earn anywhere ranging from $10 – $500 or more per month. These do not count for your 20 hours work restrictions.

  1. Paid participation in University research – This is available at Universities with research faculties. The researchers invite University students to take part in surveys and experiments by paying for their time. You can head over to the University website or speak to University admin to find out where to sign up. You will fill up a form to state your demographics and you just wait for the email requesting your participation. The more you participate, the more invites you receive.
  2. Paid surveys – I am sure the first thing that came to your mind was SCAM! Yes, you need to be mindful of the disingenuous sites. I will share with you two that are legit and pays straight to your account. Pureprofile requests you to participate in random online surveys for cash through mobile app. Any redemption is limited to $70.00 every 60 days. Octopus Survey is similar to Pureprofile’s functionality, however, pays more. You can redeem the balance after you collect at least $20.00 at any given time.

REMEMBER…

  • If you don’t find success in one of the methods, try another or better, a combination.
  • The amount of money you earn is directly correlated to your commitment.
  • Doing part-time / casual jobs that doesn’t directly relate to your field or career growth is frustrating at times – so try to find an enjoyable place of work with amazing colleagues.
  • Working part-time might help with job hunting after graduation, since most employers do appreciate your commitment for working and studying.

Until next time…

The Best University for YOU | International Students

I remember returning home, full of excitement, carrying a bunch of University prospectus from the Education Fair, getting on bed, laying them one next to another, admiring and feeling blessed at the opportunity right in front of me.  What once felt like a wish, is now becoming a reality. I spent days reading though different courses on offer at each University. I was overwhelmed with all the alternatives. On the other hand, isn’t it a “good problem” to have, all the choices for an education? 🙂

Enough said, let’s dive right in to finding the Best University for You!

Selecting a University is the first dilemma for International Students. Keeping in mind being selected to a top-ranked University is not going to be the make or break of your career, it is still a pretty BIG decision given that you are about to invest between A$10,000 to A$50,000 a year for tuition alone. Hence, don’t make a decision that you will regret.

WHAT IS YOUR PRIORITY?

After being through the tedious process myself, I realised that you will not find the perfect fit with any University, but you will be able to narrow the search down to Universities that meet your requirement closely. Firstly, you need to ask yourself why do you want to study overseas?

Academics and Campus Community

students at an Australian university

Each University have fields in which they triumph. Some Universities are known for their research facilities, whilst others lead in specific fields of study. You can refer Top Universities website’s breakdown of University rankings by subject in Australia.

It is a fact that 1 out of 3 graduates are unable to find full-time employment, no matter how prestige the degree one holds. The degree is a merely a basic requirement. Employers are more interested in the candidate’s soft skills and their ability to juggle academics with work and extra circular activities. Do consider what the University offer in terms of student life over and above academics. One of the benchmark student bodies in New South Wales, if not Australia, is ARC @ UNSW. They definitely live by their mission of creating the best student experience.

Permanent Migration

Let’s also address the students who study overseas with the primary intention of permanently migrating after completing their education. For these students, planning ahead is important. If this is your ultimate goal, then be sure to select a field that is valid for migration. In Australia, look if the field of studies fall under the Skilled Occupation List and selected course is a minimum two-year program. I would also recommend you to read our article detailing out on the Temporary Graduate 485 Visa.

TIME TO DO YOUR RESEARCH

Once you have established your goals and courses you wish to pursue, it is time for some research. Most students are quick to settle for the popular option or what is recommended by family without evaluating other factors. Since you are committing to one University for the next 2-4 years (depending on your line of studies); just as any other luxury purchase, , take your time to dig deep in to finding best combination of your requirements.

university open day

Visit open-day

If you have the time and money, I would recommend this to be the most effective way to feel the University and its surrounding environment. You have the opportunity to talk to peers and other students of similar background. Take time to stroll outside the campus to get a feel of the neighbourhood. So keep a tab on the calendar for upcoming open days at the Universities. Do remember, open days are designed to awe you with colourful events, green courtyards, freebies and shiny new buildings. While you enjoy those, take a look at what really matters. Here are some questions you can ask fellow students / faculty members at open day.

  • How long have you been at the University?
  • How do you like the University?
  • Which buildings hold lectures for [insert major]?
  • Are lectures held at off campus locations?
  • What clubs and other activities could I participate?
  • Do they have a/an [insert your interest] society?
  • Is there any flexibility in course section?
  • Are the courses more exam based or assignment based?
  • Do they assist with job placements?
  • Does the University offer support services like counselling, legal aid, etc.?
  • Do you live on or off campus and how are the accommodation options?

If you are unable to attend the open day at the University, remember your country may host representatives from foreign Universities. This is a popular promotional method amongst Universities in developed countries to attract International Students. Although this is not the same as visiting the University, it is still a good place for you to ask questions and clear out any concerns. So keep a tab on these events through local education agencies.

FinancesAustralian currency

It is no secret that International Students are a University’s main revenue stream given how much is spent yearly on tuition. On a general scale, I don’t see a significant variation in course fees between top Universities. In Australia, if you are looking for something in the lower – middle range, expand the search beyond Group of Eight Universities. You will be surprised with the choices and most of these Universities are still recognised by employers.

According to the Australian Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey, James Cook University (Australian ranked 21) graduates received the highest percentage of favourable ratings from employers, out ranking all other top universities.

University scholarships are another great method to support you financially. Most Universities want to attract the best and brightest through scholarships. Head over to each University’s website to apply for active scholarships.

You may also consider other options like TAFE Institutes that offer good panel of lecturers and courses at a much affordable rate.

I will be covering more on the topic of finance in a later post, so stay tuned.

Cost of Living

university student accomodation

While on-campus accommodation is costly, there are definitely pros of choosing this option. For now, I am focusing on cheaper but yet comfortable off-campus options. Accessibility is key. Try to find a University within close proximity rather than travelling over an hour to attend lectures. Especially in states like New South Wales, you will spend between $30 to $50 per week for public transport. Travel costs are generally high in New South Wales as it is one of two states that doesn’t offer travel concessions for International Students.

If you are concerned about costs, have a grasp of the living cost in the suburb / state where the University is located. For instance, within New South Wales, the Western suburbs are far more affordable than the Northern and Eastern suburbs.

Find out more about how to find cheap accommodation and everything you need to know on this subject on our other article.

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST...

Start University hunting well in advance. Allow yourself plenty of time to make an informed decision. Otherwise, you will settle with the first University to send an offer. Australia has two in-takes for International Students, February and July. Now is a good time to get started for February 2019 intake.

Share in the comment section, what other factors do you consider important when choosing a University?

Until next time….