What to Know Before You Study in Australia

Australian universities are similar in size to those in the US – anywhere between 3,000 and 50,000 students. But the differences for students who study abroad in Australia are plenty, from classrooms to cost.

Universities in Australia expect students to take a great deal of responsibility for their education, which can translate into fewer years in class for Australian students. For students who want to study abroad in Australia, it also could mean more hours hitting the books!

Degrees in Australia

Students enroll in three to four-year bachelor’s degree programs. They must meet specific requirements to earn their degrees and have no general-education obligation that many liberal arts university students in America must meet.

Earning a degree with honors takes another year and involves research and a thesis. Students can also continue their education to earn a doctoral or master’s degree. Master’s degrees include coursework, research and thesis phases.

Graduate certificates and graduate diplomas, which rank above a bachelor’s degree but below the level of a master’s degree, are also options. These can be awarded for additional study in the field of the original degree or in a different field.

About 40 universities are accredited by the Australian government. The University of Sydney – the first university in the country – was founded in 1850 and has about 45,000 students.

Classrooms in Australia

Compared to American university students, those in Australia can expect to spend fewer hours in the classroom but more time studying on their own.

Classes are composed of large lectures followed by small tutorials with about 20 students. Students have few weekly assignments or tests.

Contributions in the tutorial, as well as a written paper and exams in the middle and at the end of the semester, make up the final grade. If you study abroad in Australia, you will find that the grades run from 1 to 7, with 7 being the best. Letter grades are also different, with High Distinction corresponding to an A, Distinction corresponding to a B, Credit corresponding to a C, Pass corresponding to a D and N responding to an F.

Australia is in the southern hemisphere and its seasons aren’t the only things that are in contrast to those in the US. For most universities, the school year begins in late February or early March. Semesters end in June and November, with a four to six-week break in between. Students also receive a long break from December through February.

Costs to Study in Australia

University tuition in Australia is similar to that in the US, but total costs can be lower since in most cases, it takes only three years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Tuition ranges from about US $14,000 to $31,000 per year, although a lab-based degree such as those for science and engineering can cost a little more.

Postgraduate tuition is about US $18,000 to $35,000 per year.

Scholarships are available for students who study abroad in Australia, but mostly just for postgraduate work. The majority of people who study abroad in Australia pay full tuition.

Australia is the third most popular destination for study abroad students seeking a university in an English-speaking country, after the US and the United Kingdom. Estimates on the number of students who study abroad in Australia vary, but some sources place it at around 200,000.

If you want to study abroad in Australia, make sure you understand that the differences between higher education in Australia and the US are greater than just the differences in their seasons!