Five things to do before you study in Australia

Organising your studies in Australia from overseas can be stressful (it’s hard enough for domestic students to organise their applications and living arrangements). But it can be even more stressful when you’re disorganised and leave everything until the last minute — you may end up having to settle for an arrangement that you’re not happy with or, even worse, you may arrive in Australia completely unprepared.

If you’re planning on studying in Australia in 2012, six months may seem like more than enough time to get everything sorted, but there is no shortage of things to organise and most of it needs to be done well in advance. To help you out, the Studies in Australia team has compiled a list of essential things that need to be done before you begin your studies. Tick off each task as you complete it and you should be well on track to study in Australia.

THINGS TO DO NOW:

  • APPLY — By now you should have conducted all your research, decided on the right institution and course for you (taking the entry conditions into consideration) and made an application. If you haven’t done this, it isn’t too late, but you need to act soon. Generally speaking, institutions don’t set specific deadlines for international student applications, but it is best to apply as early as possible (at least three months in advance) so you have time to organise a visa, flights and accommodation. Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks just to complete the application when you need to track down all the necessary supporting documentation and get certified copies made. You can apply through an education agent, at education fairs or directly to the institution through their website.
     
  • ACCEPT YOUR OFFER — Once you have received your letter of offer (probably about three weeks after applying) you will need to accept it following the accompanying instructions before the offer lapses. Read the offer very carefully to ensure that course details and fee amounts are correct (you wouldn’t want to turn up in Australia to find that you’ve enrolled in the wrong course!).
     
  • MEET THE CONDITIONS — If your offer is conditional you will need to make sure that you meet the university’s conditions — the main ones being that you meet the course requirements (proven by your overseas qualifications), meet the English language requirements (you will need to demonstrate that you meet the required level by completing  English language testing through systems such as IELTS) and meet visa requirements (you may have to undergo a Pre-Visa Assessment before you can accept your offer — see below). You will need to find out what conditions need to be met, undertake English language testing or visa assessments if required and return certified copies of all necessary documentation to the institution by the due date stipulated.
     
  • APPLY FOR A STUDENT VISA — Processing can take up to 12 weeks so do this as soon as you receive you receive your offer. The application process and the processing time differs quite a lot depending on your 'Assessment Level', which will be one of four levels depending on your country of origin and the level of education you plan to study. Click here to find out your Assessment Level on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website. Those assessed as ‘Level 1’ can apply online and should do so once they have accepted their offer and received an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE). Those from Level 2 can apply by mail or in person at an Australian overseas consulate or mission as soon as they have received an offer. Those from Levels 3 and 4 should apply as soon as they have received their offer and generally need to undergo a pre-visa assessment (PVA) and medical examinations, which add to the processing time. They need to provide evidence of a successful PVA to the institution before they can accept their offer of place and receive an eCoE. The applicant then returns their eCoE to DIAC, who will process the visa. You can find more information on student visas on the DIAC website and a visa application checklist is available here. Click here to read more information on student visas on the Studies in Australia website.
     
  • ORGANISE YOUR OVERSEAS STUDENT HEALTH COVER (OSHC) — Purchase your OSHC as soon as you have received your offer (at the same time as you apply for your student visa) because you will need to have this in order to satisfy the grant of your student visa and accept your offer. OSHC can be organised through your institution or you can organise it yourself with one of the various agencies. OSHC is a necessary requirement imposed on all international students (except those from Sweden and Norway) and must be maintained for the duration of your studies in Australia. Click here for more information on OSHC on the Studies in Australia website, including a list of providers .

ONCE THIS IS DONE…

  • ORGANISE YOUR ACCOMMODATION — It is best to do this as soon as you can after you have received your offer and student visa for your own peace of mind. You can apply for accommodation at on-campus colleges and residences or independent student apartments from overseas, but do this as soon as possible because you might need to put your name on a waiting list. If you would prefer to secure your accommodation once you arrive in Australia, or if you need a place to stay until your pre-arranged accommodation becomes available, you will need to organise temporary accommodation at a hotel or hostel. Most institutions will be able to help you to organise your accommodation. Click here for more details on the different types of accomodation available.
     
  • BOOK YOUR FLIGHT — Make sure you allow yourself enough time to settle in before classes start and that your arrival date coordinates with any international student orientation sessions and your accommodation check-in date. Once your flight is booked, also book your free airport pick-up if your institution offers this service.
     
  • CELEBRATE — It won’t be long until you’re studying in Australia!

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