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A Speed Guide: Foreign Exchange & the Student Visa in Australia

So you want to study in the land down under? Well you’re not alone. Australia is now the third most popular student exchange destination worldwide. Australia has it all, from world-class universities, to a multi-cultural albeit laid back locals, warm climates and beautiful beaches.

You’re bound to come home from your student exchange with sand in your suitcase, some new additions to your vocabulary (and knowledge bank), and a bucketload of stories. So what do you need to do to study abroad in Australia? We’ve put together a speed guide to studying in Australia and getting your student visa.


Australia is the largest island and smallest continent in the world (never mind Greenland…it’s not a continent anyway). A plethora of interesting and bizarre phenomenon make Australia a truly special student exchange destination. Our universities make Australia an exchange destination are reason enough for student exchange in Australia, as they are routinely ranked amongst the world’s best universities in QS scores.

Apart from the academic seriousness, Aussie lifestyle is filled with more than 10,000 sunshine drenched beaches, some of the largest arts and culture festivals, sports (cricket), diverse cuisine and 2,000 varieties of wine and wildlife, which cannot be found anywhere else on the face of the planet.

Although Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, it only has a population of about 24 million. The Aussie attitude is generally laid back and Australia has become extremely multicultural, with interesting opportunities for knowledge and cultural exchange. Australians are also known to be quite friendly, so don’t panic if you get a couple of g’days from the strangers on your walk to the grocery store. Australia’s crime rate is low compared to countries like the US and regions of Europe. So much for living in a land down under.

All of this summed up together makes Australia a pretty great place to study. Getting to know the prerequisites to have in place for obtaining an Australian exchange student visa, living and code of conduct is important for your study abroad decision in Australia.


Now the Australian student visa (subclass 500) comes with plenty of pre-requisites. So you’ll need to fulfil these mandates in order to apply (successfully). Avoid visa application failure by barricading yourself with all the required documents!

Confirmation of placement/enrolment:

First off the bat, you’ll have to be offered a place for full time study in one of the institutions of Australia. So set time aside to enrol in one of Australia’s top-notch universities.

According to the Global MBA Ranking by Financial Times, Australia is the third most coveted destination for studying abroad. The most popular courses revolve around business and management but Australia’s higher education is host to a bunch of academic courses allowing you to go crazy and study what you would really like!

A proof of this is either maintained by provision of a ‘Confirmation of Enrolment’ (COE) or ‘Letter of Offer’ from the educational institute.These documents are provided only to academic courses that fall under CRICOS framework, (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students).

Evidence of Financial Capacity:

An evidence of ability to cover tuition fees, living costs and travel expenses is a more appropriate phrasing of showing financial capacity for your stay in Australia as a student. Believe us, going broke isn’t hugely enjoyable in Australia.

The amount of finance which would suffice as eligibility criteria usually depends on the duration of your course study. Other factors which would influence this criteria would be your passport’s country and your choice of educational institute.

English Proficiency:

This is another application criteria which depends on your choice of course, country of origin and nativity of English. As an evidence of English language proficiency, a test for minimum English language is accepted by the Australian Government. You need to get the right IELTS scores to get your student visa and enrolment underway! So study up, because you’ll need to ace the IELTS to study in Australia! Or an equivalent test…

Some popular English proficiency tests are IELTS, TOEFL IBT and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE). Some educational institutes have a different means of gauging proficiency and can be higher than the standard expected by the government.

Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE): 

When it comes to student visa requirements, the GTE can make or break your visa application. It’s basically the government’s way of assessing whether you genuinely want to study. The government just does not want anyone to overstay and take advantage of their student visa. Your intentions to stay temporarily in Australia are determined here by the officer in charge where he considers your individual and academic circumstances and home country as part of the assessment.


An unavoidable truth of your visa application is…Australian student visa fees. The visa requirements come with plenty of costs. But thankfully, student exchange in Australia is worth every penny! So what costs are you looking at exactly? Well. First there’s the visa application fee itself which is currently at $575AUD. Then there’s the English language test, add $340AUD. Medical examinations: $200…Police certificate: $42…return flights: $2,000-$3,000…Overseas Student Health Cover: $480-$560 (yearly)…and of course, tuition fees so chuck on an extra $10,000-$15,000 per semester!


The Australian student visa (subclass 500) allows you to stay for 5 years within Australia in order for you to study at an educational institute of your choice.

In terms of your bank account, exchange students can work on the student visa. Yay! However, this is capped at 40 hours per fortnight and full time when you are on break from university. It can be pretty handy to work part-time in order to cut costs, earn extra income and support your lifestyle during your tenure as an Australian exchange student. The weekends need to be something you look forward to.

The time period(s) and work authorisation(s) differ depending on your enrolment and requirement.

Australia’s minimum wage rate is $18.29 per hour or $694.90 per 38 hour week. Popular jobs for students in Australia include waiting/tending in cafes or bars, retail assistance in departmental stores or supermarkets, tutoring, sales and telemarketing.

Note: For serving and tending alcohol in Australia you need to complete the Responsible Service of Alcohol, training. The training is regulated by the state government, it is oriented towards educating alcohol providers and servers to prevent intoxication, drink driving and underage drinking.


Course enrolment 

A bachelor’s degree on an average term across Australia can cost around $7,900, (41,368.09 CNY, INR 40,1190) according to Dr. Kirby. While annually a bachelor’s degree costs, AU$15,000 (US$11,750) to AU$33,000 (US$25,800). Post graduate programs are AU$20,000 (US$15,650) to $37,000 (US$28,900) and PHD programs are AU$14,000 (US$10,950) to $37,000 (US$28,900).

Living expenses 

Student exchange comes with student accommodation. There’s plenty of options at your disposal, ranging from renting, homestays, on-campus apartments, or off-campus student accommodation providers.  Per week, housing costs about $300+ in Sydney, $200+ in Melbourne and $200+ in Perth.

And then there’s the matter of bills, food, recreation, travel, clothing…once you add on all the “add ons” you’re looking at a rough total of between $400-$900AUD per week. Depending on how frugal or frivolous you are with money.


Scholarships are another reason for Australia being one of the most popular study abroad destinations. Scholarships imply covering tuition fees, one semester’s extension and scholarship amount levied up to AUD$10,000. So if you’re looking to cut costs, it’s worth assessing which Australian student scholarships are on offer! The selection criteria tends to differ depending on home country, academic merit, closing dates and financial support.

Final Student Visa Wisdom

Studying abroad in Australia can be one of the most interesting decisions you could take as a student, pursuing higher education and greener pastures with Kangaroos hopping alongside. With high quality degrees on offer from globally recognised universities, and employment opportunities while studying, Australia allows you to enjoy your studies while chilling in the rich Australian culture, beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

The Australian student visa is an important means towards making your study exchange in Australia a reality. Just make sure you meet all the necessary prerequisites of finance, health, clearances and other documents. So your visa application process goes as smooth as possible!

And finally, happy travels!