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Studying in Australia / NZ

Australia and New Zealand are appealing to many Irish students and workers as English is the spoken language and the culture, nature and climate appeal to many. There is a large and established Irish community in both Australia and New Zealand which may ease the transition to living on the other side of the world.

However, living such a long way from home for an extended period of time isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – it can be challenging, particularly at first. But if you are someone who is independent by nature, with a sense of adventure and a bit of initiative, and are not afraid of doing something different, there are some extraordinary experiences and opportunities to be had.

Two key online resources from the Australian and New Zealand Governments:

There are 43 universities in Australia and 8 in New Zealand, with qualifications which are generally recognised and respected by employers and other universities worldwide. Similarly to Ireland and Europe, the main types of degrees in higher education are: 3-year Bachelor, 4-year Bachelor (Honours), 2-year Master and (typically) 3-year Doctoral Degrees.

However, there are also 2-year Associate degrees, which can be a pathway to a Bachelor Degree as it focuses on the basics or foundations of the specific subject. There are also 1-year postgraduate diplomas available in some areas.

In both Australia and New Zealand, there is often great flexibility in Bachelor degrees, where students have the option to combine different subjects and enrol in a ‘double’ or ‘combined’ Bachelor Degree. You can then be awarded two Bachelor Degrees, and this is most common in the fields of arts, commerce, law and science.

How to search for courses

There are several different ways of finding the right course for you.

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) allows you to compare student satisfaction and employability statistics of universities and subject areas, based on the results of thousands of surveys completed by domestic and international current and former students. 

As an additional resource, there is a website aimed at UK students who are interested in studying in Australia and NZ, which gives a lot of valuable general information about studying in both countries (but keep in mind that the information is specifically for UK based students so some information may not apply to Irish students).

  • If you have identified one or a select few colleges you would like to attend, log on to the university websites to access detailed information about degree programs, application procedures, academic departments, on-campus facilities, and other topics. Often, you can also find a copy of the course catalogue (Prospectus) to read online or download to read later.
  • You can also contact the college Undergraduate Admissions office for each of the colleges you are interested in for an application form and a prospectus, or to clarify anything you are unsure about.

Application procedures

The semesters in Australia and NZ are different to Ireland, as Semester 1 is normally January/February - June and Semester 2 is July - November (with some exceptions – so always check the system in each institution). For most Australian and NZ universities, applications close one month prior to the commencement of classes. Places are limited in all programmes, especially popular degrees.

How to apply

There is no central application system for international students so you apply directly to the International Student Admissions Office of each university you are interested in.

Typical entry requirements for undergraduate courses (but these will vary depending on the university):

  • Leaving Certificate, generally with at least five subjects passed at Higher Level
  • A sufficient number of LC points to be offered a place for the specific course
  • Any prerequisite subject requirements for your chosen course and major

As an example, The University of Western Australia provide information aimed specifically at Irish students. 

If you do not meet the entry requirements based on your Irish Leaving Certificate results, some universities offer 1-year Foundation Programmes with guarantee you entry on completion.

Fees and cost of living

Anyone looking to study in Australia/NZ who is not an Australian/NZ citizen is considered an international student and has to pay the international tuition fees.

Each university sets its own tuition fees and they can vary significantly, primarily depending on what you want to study. Generally, lecture-based courses (e.g. Arts) cost less than laboratory-based science courses.

As a rough guide to tuition fees:

Bachelor degree in Australia:

  • Arts A$22,000 - A$35,000 (approx. €13,000 – €21,000)
  • Science: A$26 - A$40,000 (approx. €16,000 – €25,000)

Bachelor degree in New Zealand:

  • Arts NZ$23,000 - NZ$30,000 (approx. €13,000 - €17,500)
  • Science: NZ$29,000 - NZ$33,000 (approx. €17,000 - €19,000)

Cost of living

The visa requirements for both Australia and NZ stipulate that international students have sufficient funds to cover all their living costs for one year. In Australia, that is approx. AU$20,000 (€12,000) and in NZ, approx. NZ$15,000 (€9,000). However, if you will be studying for less than a year in NZ, you must have at least NZ$1,250 (€700) for each month of study to contribute to your living expenses.

The cost of accommodation will vary depending on how and where you want to live (the national median rent for a room per week is NZ$215).

Funding opportunities

There are many scholarships, grants, and bursaries available to help support students financially with studying in Australia. They are offered by the Australian / NZ Government, education institutions, and a number of other public and private organisations.

You can search for scholarships on the Study in Australia website: https://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/

You can search for scholarships on the Study in New Zealand website: https://www.studyinnewzealand.govt.nz/study-options/

The International Education Financial Aid website provides a database of financial aid information for students who want to study in a foreign country. The site contains a comprehensive list of grants, scholarships, loan programmes and other information that may be helpful to students interested in studying in Europe, or other countries abroad. See: https://www.iefa.org/

Visa requirements

You need to have a student visa to study in both Australia and NZ and the requirements for both countries are very similar as they require proof that you:

  • Pay the full cost of your courses and enrol with an approved education provider
  • Have an offer of place, or confirmation of enrolment from an approved education provider
  • Have enough money to pay your fees and to live on while you’re here
  • Have a medical and travel insurance

Apply for your visa at least 6 weeks before your course starts and it may take some time to gather all the required documentation. From start to finish, the student visa process can take up to three months.

Most student visas enable you to work up to 20 hours per week, and full-time during holidays.

For information about, and to apply for an Australian student visa click here.

For information about, and to apply for a New Zealand student visa click here.