Australia is one of the most popular study destinations in the world, hosting around 624,000 international students in 2017, 13 percent more than the year before. However, it’s also unfortunately one of the most expensive, with students needing AU$20,290 (~US$14,600) each year for living costs alone, according to the country’s student visa requirements. Meanwhile, tuition fees at Australian universities vary considerably depending on where and what you study, and the level you will be studying at.
Read on for a breakdown of these costs and for advice on how to find Australian scholarships to support your studies.
Tuition fees and course costs for international students
According to StudyMove.com, the average tuition fee for international undergraduate students was AU$30,840 (~US$22,170) per year in 2018, and AU$31,596 (~US$22,700) for international postgraduates.
Study in Australia, the official government site for international students, gives the typical annual tuition fees for international graduate students as:
- Master’s degree – AU$20,000 (US$14,400) to $37,000 (US$26,600);
- Doctoral degree – AU$14,000 (US$10,060) to $37,000 (US$26,600).
Tuition fees at Australian universities are generally calculated per unit, not per year. Each unit falls into a fee band, and as most students will be studying a combination of units from different bands, fees will be different for everybody.
Some universities in Australia publish official fees estimates, including Australian National University (ANU), which is the nation’s highest-ranked institution (24th in the QS World University Rankings® 2019). The yearly cost of an international undergraduate degree from ANU ranges from AU$36,400 (~US$26,150) for some Bachelor of Arts programs, up to AU$43,680 (~US$31,380) for Bachelor of Science or Medical Science programs.
For graduate degree programs, annual fees start from AU$36,480 (~US$26,200) for a few master’s programs and reach up to AU$45,600 (~US$32,760).
PhD programs are priced similarly, starting at the end of the scale, from AU$ $41,280 (~US$29,650) upwards. In a league of its own, however, is ANU’s Doctorate of Medicine and Surgery degree, which costs AU$80,136 (~US$57,800).
Another cost to consider is the Student Services and Amenities fee, which is a charge for services and amenities of a non-academic nature, up to a maximum of AU$298 (~US$214) in 2018. Not all universities in Australia charge this, but make sure you check beforehand so it’s not an unexpected expense.
Tuition fees and course costs for domestic students
As with many other places around the world, it’s cheaper to study in Australia for domestic students, especially those who successfully apply for a Commonwealth supported place, which means study costs are largely subsidized by the government. Commonwealth supported places are available at all public universities in Australia and some – but not all – private ones.
Student contribution amounts vary depending on where and what you study, but are capped by the government. The government sets the minimum and maximum range for each fee band, which, for 2018, is AU$0-6,444 for Band 1; AU$0-9,185 for Band 2; and AU$0-10,754 for Band 3.
You will need to work out your total tuition fees by identifying which subjects or units are covered by each band, and how many credits (expressed as a fraction, e.g. 12/96 = 0.125 EFTSL) you get for each unit. Multiply this EFTSL figure (0.125) by the band fee charge to get the total cost per unit. Or, alternatively, you can just use an online calculator. Most institutions provide one on their website.
Tuition fees for domestic graduate students are worked out in a similar way. Some institutions publish estimates of the yearly fee for graduate students. For example the University of Melbourne lists prices for 2019 ranging from AU$19,008 per year for Master of Psychiatry, up to AU$57,088 for a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Some graduate programs also offer Commonwealth-assisted places, so check with the institution.
Unlike international students, domestic students are eligible for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). There are five types of government loans available to Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders. HECS-HELP is a scheme which helps Commonwealth supported students to pay their student contribution amount; FEE-HELP covers tuition fees for fee-paying students; SA-HELP pays the student services and amenities fee; OS-HELP pays some overseas study expenses; and VET Student Loans pay for vocational education and training fees.
Australian scholarships and fellowships
The Australia Awards are international scholarships and fellowships funded by the Australian government, available to Australian nationals and citizens from other eligible countries, a list which covers the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific area and Asia.
The Australia Awards Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are mainly for postgraduate-level study and research. Out of the four funds available for international applicants, one is a short-term research fellowship for graduates and postgraduates (maximum award of AU$24,500 for studies of up to six months), one is for professional development (maximum award of AU$18,500 for up to four months) and one is for vocational education and training for a diploma or associate’s degree (VET) offering up to AU$6,500 per semester for up to two and a half years (maximum award AU$131,000).
International graduate students looking to gain funding for a full master’s or PhD program should apply for the Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship, which offers up to AU$15,000 per semester for a duration of up to two years for master’s students and four years for PhD students (maximum award AU$140,500 for master’s, AU$272,500 for PhD).
It is recommended that you apply early for all Australian scholarships and fellowships. Applications for funding in 2019 are closed, and applications for the 2020 round are expected to open in late April 2019.
If you’re a graduate student from the UK, you can apply for the Northcote Graduate Scholarship from the Britain-Australia Society. This funds for your travel there and back, tuition fees and charges, and also provides an allowance for three years while you study.
For all undergraduate and postgraduate students, check with the Australian universities you are interested in, as many offer scholarships open to both domestic and international students at both levels. For more funding opportunities, visit our list of scholarships to study in Australia.
Cost of living in Australia
As mentioned, the Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs says you must prove you have AU$20,290 (~US$14,600) for living costs per year. If you’re bringing a partner you’ll need to add AU$7,100 (~US$5,100) to this figure, and if you have children, you’ll need to show you have an additional AU$3,040 (~US$2,200) for each child.
As well as proof of these funds, you will also need to show you have a return air fare for yourself and every family member you take with you, as well as enough money to cover the school fees of any children you have between age five and 18.
Although the above outlines the amount required by Australia’s immigration standards, you may not need to spend that much once you arrive. The official Study in Australia guidelines recommend budgeting between AU$85 (~US$61) and AU$440 (~US$317) per week for accommodation, depending on whether you stay in shared accommodation on campus (the cheapest), or in private rented accommodation (the most expensive).
Other weekly expenses include:
- Groceries and eating out – $80 to $280 per week (~US$57-201)
- Gas, electricity – $35 to $140 (~US$25-100)
- Phone and Internet – $20 to $55 (~US$14-40)
- Public transport – $15 to $55 (~US$11-40)
- Car (after purchase) – $150 to $260 (~US$108-187)
- Entertainment – $80 to $150 (~US$57-108)
To simplify, this works out to a minimum of around AU$311 (~US$224) per week.
Most Australian universities provide detailed breakdowns of the cost of living in Australia on their websites, including student accommodation and sometimes even local area prices and advice. For example, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology offers a handy Shopping Smarter page with links and tips for discounted shopping.
Remember the costs listed by the university will usually be for an academic year (about 40 weeks), rather than a calendar year, so you will need to budget extra if you want to stay longer.
Student visa costs for Australia
The fee for the Student Visa (Subclass 500) currently stands at AU$575 (~US$414). As a visa requirement, you will need to organize Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for yourself and any accompanying family members, which needs to be valid for the duration of your stay. You don’t have to use the provider your university recommends, but, whichever you choose, ensure it is government-approved.
OSHC Australia provides a search function which can be used to compare quotes for medical insurance from authorized providers. We found the cheapest option for a standard undergraduate student (duration three years, starting in March and finishing in December) with no accompanying family to be AU$2,149.10 (~US$1,550).
This article was originally published in November 2013. It is updated regularly; most recently in December 2018.
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