Applying to study in Australia
Our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Australia
Our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Australia
Australia is a hotspot for sun-seeking pilgrims all around the world. With beautiful beaches, a bright student scene and a curious array of wildlife, it’s no wonder the nation is the most popular study abroad destination for international students. But don’t be fooled: there’s much more to studying down under than beach parties and barbeques. As well as having incredibly strict immigration laws, Australia is home to many world-class universities with incredibly specific application requirements.
Australian academic culture is comparatively formal and fast-paced, and so it’s important you take the application process seriously. We’ve put together an overview of the application process, as well as some tips and hints that will help you lodge a successful study abroad application in Australia.
It’s never too early to start researching potential institutions to study abroad. It can take months to get approval from relevant bodies, and so it’s recommended that students begin the process at least 9 months in advance. As well as deciding which institution and which course best suits your academic needs, you’ll need to look into specific subject units and ensure there’s sufficient overlap with your course back home. Completing a whole semester and then learning you won’t get credit for your subjects abroad is something no-one wants to come home to.
Most Australian universities such as the Australian National University have an online handbook that detail subjects available in each course, relevant assessments and learning areas they cover. They will also have contact information for faculty and subject co-ordinators so that you can ask them any questions you might have directly.
Intakes and Deadlines
Intake periods are different across undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study, and vary in specific dates for different universities. In general however, Australian universities will have two intake periods: one at the start (February) and one in the middle (July) of the academic year. Some universities have second and third round intakes after these initial rounds as well. Students are strongly advised to pursue and confirm intake dates and deadlines with their host institution directly.
Generally, undergraduate application cut-off dates for start of year intake is around mid-November-December, and mid-year is around mid May-June. Postgraduate application cut-off dates is around the end of October for commencement in February of the following year, and the end of April for a start in July. Your application will usually take about 4-6 weeks to process.
After applying to university, you should apply for your Australian student visa.
How to apply?
What documents will I need?
Australian universities will require you to include your resume, personal statement, reference letters, all previous academic transcripts and IELTS score card, if relevant. Not to mention other documents as specified by your specific home or host institution. Your IELTS score is valid for three years from the sitting date, so if yours is set to expire you will need to sit another exam well before you plan on lodging your application.
Admissions and Aptitude Tests
Students may also need to sit additional admissions and aptitude tests, depending on the requirements of their institution and programme. Common admission rests required are the UMAT, for entry into undergraduate Medicine programmes, the GAMSAT for entry into postgraduate Medicine programmes and the LSAT, for entry into selected postgraduate Law programmes.
Australian academic culture
Academic culture in Australia is focused on independent learning and relies on students’ own initiative to enrol correctly, monitor their course credit levels, hand in work on time and attend class. Attendance is never marked in lecture or seminar classes, and is not uncommonly optional for tutorial classes, either. Students are assumed mature enough to make the choice to attend class themselves.
Whilst this is always true for studies in arts, most faculties will set reading or short tasks for subjects that are expected to be done before class. These tasks are intended to prepare you for the taught course content, and provide grounds for you to participate in a discussion or understand a larger concept. Readings are not compulsory and you will not be penalised for not doing them, but are instrumental in helping you get a grasp of concepts discussed in class and starting on a research point. Similarly, many lab-based and practical subjects will have question sheets that are usually not assessed in themselves, but are intended to prepare you for the class content itself. In short: it is in your own interest to complete them.
The pace of Australian academia can feel quite quick to some international students as professors expect students to constantly monitor their own progress outside of class. Professors are always available for consultations if you’d like to them to explain something to you, but again, it is up to you to chase them up, schedule and keep the appointment.
Australian academic writing is quite formal and avoids use of superfluous language, such as unnecessary descriptors. Use a big word only if it’s the word that best captures what you mean: if your idea is complex enough, then use of that word will read as authentic and expose your depth of thought. Using big words and unnecessarily long sentences will make it seem as if your ideas are hiding behind your writing, and Australian professors will take it as a sign that you’ve been lazy and haven’t done your research. Or that you don’t have much to say for yourself in the first place.
Make sure you check the dates on university handbooks: not all subjects run every year, and some universities have summer and winter holiday study periods whose subjects are listed along with those running during semester. Also be sure to check the credits awarded by each subject: a standard unit is 12.5 points, and depending on the faculty will have a set amount of ‘contact hours’ throughout the week. This is just the total amount of class per week for that subject.
It’s always better to put in your application sooner rather than later. Australian universities will generally not chase up an incomplete application, or accept one past the deadline cut-off.
If you’re making any references in your personal statement, be sure to attribute sources properly. Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence in Australia and depending on the severity of the case can cause anything from a rejected application to expulsion from a university. You can check which referencing style each faculty uses on university websites.
Now that you know how to apply, start browsing courses in Australia.
Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.