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Studying in Australia

Image of an international student at an Australian university

Thinking of studying in Australia? Great choice. Here are some things you’ll need to know before you get started.

Key tips for studying in Australia

Top-ranking universities, a strong Australian education system, and a great lifestyle make Australia an appealing destination for international students from across the world. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll need to know:  

  • Research universities and vocational colleges based on your field of study and goals
  • Ensure you meet all of the student visa requirements
  • Be aware of work restrictions when studying and possibilities once you graduate 
  • A tax file number (TFN) is essential if you plan on working while you study
  • There are specific health insurance requirements for international students who study in Australia
  • Opening a bank account is one of the first things you’ll need to do upon arrival
  • Westpac has a range of banking benefits for 18–29-year-olds, as well as budget tools and international money transfer options.

University rankings

Students choosing to undertake study in Australia may be spoilt for choice when it comes to university options.


According to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2024, Australia has six universities in the top 100 and 11 in the top 200. The top-ranking Australian universities are below: 

         #34: University of Melbourne

         #54: Monash University

         #60: University of Sydney

         #67: Australian National University

         #70: University of Queensland

         #84: UNSW Sydney

         #111: University of Adelaide

         #143: University of Western Australia

         #148: University of Technology Sydney

         #180: Macquarie University

         #199: Queensland University of Technology


These rankings are based on:

  • Teaching (reputation, student:staff ratio and institutional income)

  • Research environment (reputation, income, productivity)

  • Research quality (citation impact, research strength, excellence and influence), industry (income, patents),

  • International outlook (international students, staff and co-authorship). 

It’s important to remember that rankings can change from year to year, and the specific ranking of a university can vary based on your field of study or degree, so it’s worth doing your own research.

Vocational colleges across Australia

Studying in Australia isn’t just limited to universities. Australia has a number of vocational education colleges offering a wide range of courses and training programs. Some options include: 

  • TAFE (Technical and Further Education Institute)

  • Private vocational colleges such as the Australian College of Applied Psychology, Chisholm Institute, or Endeavour College of Natural Health

  • Institutes specialised in certain fields, such as Le Cordon Bleu Australia (culinary and hospitality), Australian College of sports and Fitness, Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and the Hotel School (Hospitality Management)

  • Online and distance education providers, including Open Colleges and TAFE Digital

Again, it’s crucial to do your research on each institution, the courses they offer, and their accreditation to find one that best suits your goals. Separate from your course of study, a range of English language courses are available, too. 

Student visa requirements

First things first. Before you can start your studies in Australia, you’ll need to apply for a student visa from the Australian Government.


To apply for a student visa, you’ll need to be enrolled in a course of study in Australia, hold Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) or fall into one of the exception categories, and apply online in or outside Australia. There are other conditions (such as proving you have sufficient funds to cover your costs) that are important to understand.

Student health insurance

A condition of all Australian student visas is arranging Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) before arriving to study in Australia.


You can either arrange your OSHC through your education provider, or choose it yourself from an approved OSHC provider. Your coverage needs to be for the entire duration of your study visa.

Discovering Australia’s best student cities 

There’s a range of accommodation options to suit your lifestyle and budget while you’re studying in Australia, such as on campus accommodation, shared living, and homestays. Many students in Australia study and live in the same suburb, for convenience.

  • Melbourne: Melbourne is often ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities. The suburb of Carlton is home to the University of Melbourne and RMIT University, and is known for its student-friendly atmosphere, with plenty of cafes, bookstores and cultural attractions. Footscray is close to Victoria University, while Clayton is located near Monash University’s Clayton campus and is popular among international students.

  • Sydney: Australia’s largest city offers a mix of top universities, beautiful beaches and world-famous landmarks. Newtown, near the University of Sydney, offers a vibrant arts and music scene, while Parramatta, close to the University of Western Sydney provides a more affordable alternative. Randwick is close to the University of New South Wales and the eastern beaches.

  • Brisbane: Known for its pleasant climate and outdoor lifestyle, Brisbane offers a more affordable cost of living compared to Sydney and Melbourne and is home to several reputable universities. Check out St Lucia, a riverside suburb home to the University of Queensland. Kelvin Grove is near the Queensland University of Technology.

  • Adelaide: With its relaxed lifestyle and affordability, Adelaide boasts cultural festivals, parklands, and the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.  Adelaide city is accessible to several universities, while North Adelaide is a quieter, more residential option.

  • Canberra: As the capital of Australia, Canberra is home to prestigious universities and a diverse mix of students and professionals. Bruce and O’Connor are both convenient suburbs close to the Australian National University.

Be sure to consider your field of study, personal preferences and budget, and specific programs, lifestyle, transportation options, and cost of living in the city that aligns with your personal and academic goals. 

Finding work: opportunities and expectations 

International students have the opportunity to work in Australia while studying. This can be a great way to experience the local culture, make new friends, and connect with the community.


There are opportunities in retail (supermarkets, department stores, boutiques), health care (aged care or disability support), hospitality (cafés, bars, restaurants), administration and clerical work, as well as seasonal work farming or fruit picking.


Note: from 1 July 2023, work restrictions for student visa holders have been capped at 48 hours per fortnight. This is to ensure students focus on obtaining a quality education and qualification.

Working after you’ve completed study 

If you’re looking to stay in Australia after you’ve completed your course, you could be in luck. From 1 July 2023, international higher education graduates with eligible qualifications and enrolled in courses linked to workforce shortages can apply to live and work longer in Australia.


This is available for international graduates with degrees that are in areas with verified skill shortages. 

Apply for a Tax File Number 

If you plan to work while you study, you’ll need a Tax File Number (TFN). A TFN is your unique identifier for all tax-related matters in Australia. You’ll also be asked for a TFN to open an Australian bank account, file a tax return, or when dealing with finance or government institutions.


It is free to apply for a TFN, and foreign passport holders can apply online using Individual Auto Registration (IAR).

Opening a bank account as an international student

One of the first things you’ll likely need to do is organise your banking in Australia. Once you arrive, you can open up a transaction account online with Westpac and transfer money immediately into your new account.


A Westpac Choice transaction account is for people who have arrived in Australia in the last 12 months. There are no account keeping fees for full-time students or those under 30, no withdrawal fees at most major bank ATMs in Australia, and you’ll get a debit card to access cash, shop securely online, and tap and go (on purchases under $100). Apple Pay also offers a fast and secure way to pay in-store and online, using your favourite Apple device. 

Once you’ve applied online, you’ll then need to verify your ID in one of our local branches before you start using your new account.


Balancing study, life, and work? You’re going to need some good budgeting skills. That’s where the Westpac App budget tools come in.


The app dashboard allows you to track spending month to month, set your own categories, and compare spending across categories. Tracking trends in your cash flow means you’ll be able to instantly see if you’re on track or need to curb spending. 

Banking benefits for 18-29s

If you’re planning on studying abroad in Australia and are aged 18-29, there are some additional banking benefits with Westpac to consider.


As well as zero account keeping fees on a Choice transaction account, 18–29-year-olds can earn bonus interest when using a Choice and Life account together. 

Making money transfers simple for international students 

Finally, if sending money overseas or receiving money from overseas is important to you while you’re studying in Australia, it’s worth exploring the options available to ensure a convenient, safe, and cost-effective process.


You can send foreign currency transfers fee free to more than 200 countries using Westpac Online Banking or the Westpac App.


It’s also possible to receive money from overseas in foreign currency or Australian dollars by having it deposited electronically into your Westpac account. 

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.