Organising your overseas study experience

Organising your overseas study experience

Studying overseas has many benefits for tertiary students. You will broaden your horizons, meet new people, experience your course in a new light and maybe even learn a new language. If you’re considering adding an international spin to your studies, we can help you get organised in six easy steps.

1. Choose your overseas program

If you’ve started thinking about studying overseas, your first step is to do some reading about the range of options available. First, there are study abroad or student exchange programs. The major difference is that student exchange allows you to remain enrolled at your Australian institution and continue paying your regular fees, while a study abroad program requires you to defer your Australian course and pay fees to your overseas institution. You can find more information in our Study abroad and student exchange section. Choosing one of these options can see you studying overseas for anywhere between a semester to a couple of years of your degree. Students interested in a shorter overseas experience can take advantage of study tours or consider undertaking a period of work experience abroad. Another option is to study at an overseas campus of your Australian institution, if available. If you’re not too keen on heading overseas, or can’t meet the costs, why not consider your options interstate?

2. Investigate eligibility and funding options

Before starting the application process, it’s important to make sure that you’ll meet the entry requirements. In most cases, you will need to have completed at least two semesters of full-time study at your Australian institution. In addition, you’ll have to satisfy minimum academic requirements, such as a certain grade point average, and subject prerequisites for some courses. This is also the time to start looking into financial assistance options. If you are a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) student, you may be eligible for the OS-HELP scheme. This provides students with a loan of up to $6250 for a six-month study period, which is repaid through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). Students wishing to study in Asia are eligible to borrow up to $7500 plus an additional $1000 to study an Asian language. You may also be able to secure an additional grant through your institution.

3. Choose your country

Once you’ve spoken to advisers at the overseas exchange office, you’ll have a good idea of the countries you can start researching. If you’re taking the student exchange route, you’ll need to choose from a list of countries where your institution has partnerships. On the other hand, you’ll have your pick of countries if you’ve opted for study abroad. For many students the primary consideration is the language spoken, including the language of instruction. You should also think about the cost of living and see if you will be able to get a part-time job when you arrive. Also important is thinking about where a particular course will be taught best. Perhaps you’ll consider Spain for architecture or China for business.

4. Find an institution

You’ve got a country in mind, so your next step is to find an appropriate institution. Are you looking for an institution that excels in your field? Will facilities and equipment make or break your experience? Do you want to study somewhere known for its vibrant student dynamic? Is there a particularly city that’s spiked your interest? Start with the basics if you’re feeling overwhelmed (small town versus big city, for example). If you’ve chosen student exchange, you’ll need to choose from a list of institutions affiliated with your university — if you’re worried that this reduces your options, rest assured that your university will have partnerships across the world.

5. Start applying

There’s a lot of paperwork involved when you are applying to study overseas, so we suggest getting some help from the overseas exchange office or your course coordinator. Your institution may also be able to help if you are applying for a study abroad program to a non-partner institution. Typically, you will need to include at least a few of the following alongside your application: an academic transcript, a personal statement, a résumé, proof of finances and medical information. You may also need to nominate additional preferences on your application form, particularly if you are considering a part of the world that is very popular with international students.

6. Prepare for departure

Now that you’ve filled in your applications, it’s only a matter of time until you find out if you’ve been accepted. And once you know where you’re heading, you’ll need to start booking your flights, sorting out your accommodation, making sure you’ve got enough money for your trip and getting your visa. If you’re going to a non-English-speaking country, this is also the time to brush up on your language skills. Even if you’ll be studying in English, you might want to practise some of your local vocab — whether it’s so you can start making friends with the locals or just buy a train ticket. If you know someone who has visited the country (or better yet, studied there), try to get as much advice as possible.

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