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University in Australia

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Australia has 39 higher education institutions, including some of the most respected schools in the world. The Times Higher Education rankings lists four Australian universities in the top 100 in the world, including two in the top 40.

Australian university rankings
Source: Times Higher Education 2011-12

Courses

Higher education institutions in Australia can be separated into universities, higher education institutions and higher education providers. Institutions will typically offer Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificates and diplomas. Other institutions may also offer Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE).

Most Bachelor courses will typically take four years of study, a Masters a further two years and doctorates three years. Unlike the British higher education structure, Australian universities will typically have just two terms, more commonly called semesters, with regular study breaks in between. The school year will usually start around late-February and run until early December.

Australian universities and other higher educational institutions offer over 12,000 courses in total and Australia welcomes approximately 220,000 international students each year, more English-speaking international students than any other country in the world after the US and the UK.

University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne

International industry

The international education industry in Australia is worth AU$18 billion (£11.6 billion) and the country is a world leader in the industry alongside the US, the UK and Canada.

Australia is currently implementing a series of reforms to its international education industry after a review by former politician Michael Knight claimed complex Australia visa restrictions were hindering the industry. Since the report, known as the Knight Review, was published Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced plans to allow all graduating foreign students to remain in the country for four years to work in their chosen field.

Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation options available to students in Australian universities including shared housing, halls of residences and student flats; some universities may also offer shared room accommodation. Due to the size of the country and the distribution of people around universities, many students will live at home throughout their time at university.

The cost, quality and range of accommodation available differs between universities, a guide to most can be found here.

Australia has comprehensive laws in place to protect students, often away from home for the first time, from exploitation. Legal protection is available to help students recover deposits or bonds, unsuitable living conditions and false advertising.

Each state has its own interpretation of the law but all are overseen by the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs.

Cost

The cost of higher education in Australia can be quite high, typically between AU$14,000 and AU$35,500 (£9,200 and £23,400) a year including fees and living expenses. There are tax free loans available to Australian citizens and some permanent residents, these are known as Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) or Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) but overseas students are not eligible for governmental support.

The Australian government runs this site to inform potential students about the costs and options of studying in Australia.