Five international student myths

Choosing to study overseas can be a difficult decision. You might be wondering how you’ll cope with meeting new friends, living in a new country and perhaps speaking a new language. To help ease some of your worries, we’ve listed five common myths about studying in Australia.

Studying overseas is a lonely experience

Some students worry that studying in a different country will make it difficult to make friends, but this isn’t the case. In fact, institutions try very hard to make international students feel welcome. There are international student clubs and societies, ‘buddy’ programs between local and international students, and Orientation Week (O-Week) activities to help with your transition. Don’t be afraid to start up or join a conversation with your classmates — even local students can feel nervous about starting a new course and some may have moved away from home to study just like you.

It’s impossible to do well in your studies if you are not a native speaker

It is a common fear of international students that it is difficult to do well in a course if they are not a native speaker. Although there may be some challenges along the way, Australian lecturers and tutors understand that many international students come from non-English-speaking backgrounds, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or request help with an assessment you are completing. There are also many academic services available to international students, from tutoring to workshops that teach academic referencing and study skills.

Studying abroad is too expensive

Although there are costs associated with studying overseas, there are Australian study experiences to suit all budgets. From short-term study tours to study abroad and exchange, you are likely to find an option to suit you. There are also a number of scholarships available to international students who would like to study in Australia that can provide assistance with tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses. Scholarships are offered by education institutions, both in Australia and your home country; private organisations, such as industry associations or large companies; and government departments. You can also undertake a student exchange program, which means that you continue to pay fees to your home institution while studying in Australia for one or two semesters. See Study abroad and student exchange for more information about these programs.

You can’t work while you study

In many other countries, international students are not permitted to work on a student visa. The great thing about studying in Australia is that your student visa enables you to work part time while you study — up to 40 hours per fortnight during semester. During semester breaks, students are able to work unlimited hours. If you are a research student (masters degree by research or doctorate), you have unlimited work rights. Tertiary students often work in clothing stores and restaurants, where work is generally easy to find. Before looking for work in Australia, you need to know about your rights and responsibilities as an employee. See Working in Australia for more information.

Only some courses accept international student enrolments

Many students think that there are certain courses that accept international students and others that don’t. While there are some exceptions to this rule, international students can apply for courses in any field of study in Australia — from accounting to veterinary science. Entry requirements are different at each institution and for every course, so it is best to check with each institution you are considering. Some courses are difficult to get into whether you are a local or international student (medicine and law are good examples), and in these competitive fields students often complete 'pathways' through related degrees (such as health sciences for medicine or humanities for law) to improve their chances. To read about the types of courses you can study and the careers they lead to, see Careers in Australia.

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