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A guide to applying to Australian Universities

Applying to a university as an international student can be a tough and daunting task, especially if that country is on the other side of the world. However, we hope to shed some light on applying to Australian universities below, from how much you pay as an international student, to the style of Australian teaching, to all of the information you will need for your visa. We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading our guide to applying to Australian universities!

Key statistics




£5,200 (Home)*

£10,250 – £23,380 (International)

£9,250 (Home)

£10,000 – £35,000 (International)

Number of students

1.33 million

2.34 million

Number of foreign students

374, 320 (28.1%)

458,490 (19.6%)

Number of Universities




Varies from October to December (Medicine and related courses are earlier) **

Early: 15th October

Standard: 15th January

Average Diploma Score ***



*This is including the Commonwealth Supported Place scheme offered to Australian and New Zealand residents

**Beginning in February

*** Using IBO information on 10 most popular universities for IB students in the UK and Australia


Australian universities operate a 2-semester system, with their first semester being February to June and the second semester being July to November. If applying for the February semester, the deadlines are likely to be between October and December, although Medicine, Veterinary Science and Dentistry may well be earlier. It is advisable that you apply before these deadlines as the university may have a rolling application system whereby they assess and accept students when their application arrives. Please check on your university’s website for details. 

You will apply with your predicted IB grades or your actual grades (depending on when the deadline for your application is). If you need to apply with predicted grades, the IBO or your school should send your final Diploma grades to the university automatically, but please do check.

If you are also applying to UK universities, we can offer help and advice on your personal statement, admissions tests and interviews. Please take a look at our consulting page for more information.

Financial comparison

Tuition fees are paid based upon the number of modules you take and your country of origin. Australian and New Zealand citizens pay lower tuition fees as they are covered by the Commonwealth Supported Place scheme which caps university fees. The cap differs based upon your module choices and which subject groups these fall in to:

Student contribution band

Student contribution range (AU dollars)

Student contribution range (GB pounds)

Band 3: Law, dentistry, medicine, veterinary science, accounting, administration, economics, commerce

$0 – $10,958

£0 – £6102

Band 2: Computing, built environment, other health, allied health, engineering, surveying, agriculture, mathematics, statistics, science

$0 – $9,359

£0 – 5210

Band 1: Humanities, behavioural science, social studies, education, clinical psychology, foreign languages, visual and performing arts, nursing

$0 – $6,566

£0 – £3656

Although international applications from outside Australia and New Zealand are not covered by this scheme, there are several scholarships available for students who excel in their IB Diploma studies. For example, the University of Sydney offer the Sydney Scholars Award and the University of Adelaide offer a Global Citizens scholarship. Study in Australia have a comprehensive list of scholarships available, such as the Australia Awards scheme that offers scholarships and support. 

Please note that the Department for Home Affairs requires you to prove that you have £11,291 to cover living costs. Please see their website for more information on proof of funds and this article for an estimate of average living costs for a student in Australia.

Learning at Australian universities

Australian universities will normally offer 3-year Bachelor’s degree whilst some also offer Honours degrees that take 4 years to complete and are awarded on the basis of additional research and academic excellence. Group working is key to Australia’s education system, so expect to be completing several group projects as part of your degree. Similarly, independent, creative and critical thought are highly regarded within the Australian education system. As Insider Guides highlights, this can be challenging for some pupils who are used to memorising facts and graphs. In Australia, it is much more likely that you will be asked to think innovatively rather than repetitively. In addition, there is a larger weighting on assignments than on the end-of-year exam within the Australian university system. For example, the Introduction to Microeconomics module at the University of Melbourne involves 40% coursework, whilst the Mathematical Theory and Methods module at the University of Western Australia is comprised of 45% coursework.

Foundation courses/Bridging Study

Foundation courses, or Bridging Study, are normally 1-year courses that prepare you with the requisite skills for university and qualify you with the equivalent of an International Baccalaureate or Australian high school qualification. Monash University and the University of Sydney both offer foundational programmes that grant you entry into the university after successful completion. These programmes build students’ Maths and English ability and develop skills relevant to the degree program they are looking to go on to study. Therefore, they are a very good way of gaining a place at an Australian university if your grades slightly miss those required for immediate entry into your undergraduate course or if your English language skills would benefit from a year learning and speaking English regularly.

Which universities and what subjects should I apply to?

Students can apply to more than one course at one or more Australian universities – as is the case with UK universities. Applications may be made to a particular course, to a degree classification (for example, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Commerce) or to the university in its entirety, depending on the university you are applying to. For more information on which subject would best suit you, we would encourage you to look at our resources on university admissions where we have articles focused on your subject choices. Study international also offer a course finder tool that allows you to search courses at Australian universities.  

There are various universities groups and networks, similar to the Russel Group of universities in the UK, that specialise in different areas of research. Some of the leading groups are:

See the IBO’s guide to applying to Australian universities with the IB Diploma for application information and a rundown of the 10 most popular Australian universities amongst IB students.

Source: Study in Australia

Application system

You can choose to apply by yourself or through a Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC) to a university in Australia.

Applying individually

If you apply individually, you will need to send separate applications to each institution in Australia. Around 65% of IB students choose this route. This is good as it eliminates the costs of applying through an admissions centre and will involve you in the research, ensuring that you know the admissions procedure and what to expect. However, the cost of applying to each Australian university can vary between £30 and £50. If you are applying to 4 or more universities in Australia, this can soon become expensive. In addition, you are left to find the right people to contact within the university, which can require a lot of time and effort.

Applying through a Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC)

Most universities in Australia are linked to several agencies and we encourage you to look on their websites or contact them directly to clarify these. All universities must, by Australian law, list on their website the education agents with whom they are partnered. The University Admissions Centre (UAC) is a frequently used service that also calculates the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (the Australian equivalent of UCAS points) which is used to compare students with different qualifications. 

Centres such as UAC will help you to collate information and documents, put together your application and send the documents to your chosen universities. Please look at the Australian government’s tips for avoiding problems with education agents for useful help and advice. 

Agencies such as IDP education, which is co-owned by 38 Australian universities, is an organisation that can give you holistic advice about applying to Australian universities. They offer advice on student health cover, accommodation, course choices and visa applications, and are a useful service if you are unsure about the application process. 

Structure of your application

Like an application to UK universities, your application to an Australian university may ask you to write a personal statement. Deakin University suggest that you use this opportunity to detail your achievements, work experiences, skills and any obstacles you have overcome. They reiterate that this should be relevant to and demonstrate your commitment and interest in the course you are applying for. This can, and should, also include any voluntary work you have done, as Deakin argue that this is a great reflection of who you are as a person and what you believe in. You may also need to fill in supplementary forms or take additional tests as an international student, such as the International Student Admissions Test (ISAT) used at Monash and other universities. 

If you need help writing a personal statement for UK universities, please see out article on Crafting the perfect personal statement for some advice and tips, and consider contacting our admissions team for support tailored to your needs.

Although the application system will differ between universities, a typical example is that of Victoria University. If you are successful in your application to Victoria, you will either receive a Letter of Offer or a conditional offer. When you have decided which university you wish to attend you must reply to their conditional offer or Letter of Offer (whichever you have at this time) to confirm that you accept your place to study on their course. Once you have met the conditions in your conditional offer, you will receive your Letter of Offer. The Letter of Offer will outline the: 

  • Course you will study
  • Enrolment conditions
  • Fees you will pay
  • Refund payable if you do not complete your study

This is a very important document as it will outline the next steps should you not complete your course at your chosen university, so it is highly recommended that you keep a copy of this Letter for your own personal records. Please do contact the university if you have any questions and see the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) website, specifically created by the Australian government for international students, for more information about your rights whilst studying in Australia.

Key documents

You will need several key documents when applying to Australian universities, these are:

1. Passport

2. English language requirements (if you are not from an English-speaking country)

The most popular test is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) which costs AU$340 (£190); however, please check with your university for their specific requirements as they may request a different test or a minimum mark.

If you are looking for support taking an English language test such as the IELTS, please contact us as we may be able to offer tuition.

3. Proof of how you intend to fund your studies

4. Criminal record verification

5. Visa

Student 500 Visa costs AU$620 (£345) and can be purchased via the Australian government’s website. You will receive an Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) letter once you have accepted the offer from your university which will be needed for your visa. Moreover, you must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) health insurance which covers your entire residency in Australia. The University of Sydney provide useful information on this topic.

For more information on applying for a visa, please see the document checklist tool offered by the Department of Home Affairs. 

Key advice

Thank you for taking the time to read the advice above and we hope that you have gained some useful information from it! We would, firstly, recommend conducting thorough research into your chosen university and course, as well as investigating what life living in Australia will be like. You have already done some of this by reading this article, but please do use websites such as Study in AustraliaProspects and International Student to guide your research.

Secondly, start early! This applies both to your research and your applications. If you are able to start planning 1 year before you aim to begin studying in Australia, this should give you time to plan what, where and at what cost you will study. Similarly, this will leave time to create your personal statement, fill in any additional questionnaires and apply for a student visa. For information on these topics, the Australian government website and universities themselves are often useful sources of information. 

Furthermore, please try to talk to international students who are currently studying in Australia or New Zealand to gain an insight into how they are finding it. Ask at your school or contact the universities you are applying to and ask if they can put you in touch. Also make use of student forums such as Top Universities and International Student that are designed for students studying at a university in a different country. 

Finally, please try to enjoy the process! Studying at a university in a different country is a once in a lifetime opportunity and should be embraced with a smile. It is an exciting, sometimes difficult, but rewarding experience that will give you so many amazing opportunities. We wish you the best of luck and please do get in contact if you have any questions.

If you would like to know more about what we do as a company, please visit our EIB webpage for IB Diploma content and our EIB Admissions webpage for university-related content. Similarly, to read more articles like this one, please visit our resources page.

Please find some useful links about studying in Australia below:

Study International step-by-step guide: https://www.studyinternational.com/news/step-step-get-australian-university-international-student/

Australian government’s guide to applying to study in Australia: https://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/english/apply-to-study (see left hand side of the page for links to more detailed information)

IBO’s guide to Australian universities: https://www.ibo.org/contentassets/5895a05412144fe890312bad52b17044/recognition—international-student-guide-aus–march2016—eng.pdf.pdf

Photo Source: Naassom Azevedo