Australia has only 40 universities but more than 1,000 institutions, which offer 22,000 courses. Its eight leading research universities form the Group of Eight (Go8). As the country follows the commonwealth system of education, schooling is till year 12 followed by undergraduate education through vocational options (diplomas) and/or university education (degrees) after which a postgraduate degree (coursework or research) and a PhD can be obtained. With the teaching pattern being the same, students can expect to complete their degrees in the same time they would take in India (e.g. a commerce degree programme would run for three years, an engineering degree for four and a postgraduate degree usually for two). However, students have a range of subject specialisations (sometimes as many as 35). And they can study for double degrees and integrated Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes as well.
The academic year starts in February every year with a mid-semester entry option in July, which is popular among students from India. Applicants are selected usually on the basis of their academic work. So, transcripts and mark sheets need to be submitted along with completion certificates. Your grades determine the university you are eligible for. Students also need to provide proof of their English language proficiency by submitting an IELTS or TOEFL score card. Other tests or qualifications like the GMAT or work experience may be required but differ from one institution to another and depend on your course as well.
When applying for further studies in any country, it is recommended that you start the process at least a year in advance. Australia is no different. You would probably need to start the process one to two years in advance so you can financially plan for the expenses for studies. Once you understand and budget for the costs, you need to plan and select your course and institution. It is best to start by listing your priorities such as course specialisation, university branding, on-campus accommodation, tuition fees, living expenses (actual expenses could change from city to city and depend on your lifestyle), etc. It is best to shortlist your options in the beginning so you are not applying to more than five universities. One or two can be where you are most likely to be accepted. The rest should be where you would like to enrol (these may require higher grades or where your admission is not straightforward but it meets your aspirations).
It is recommended that you apply for your visa 12 weeks before the course begins. Therefore, you should have your offer letter, eCOE (a confirmation of enrolment which you receive once you have made your tuition fee deposit payment), proof of your English proficiency and final mark sheets and passing certificates before this filing date. Complete your medical examination requirement as well. You can apply for a visa later than this date (sometimes as late as four to six weeks in advance) but there is no guarantee that it will be granted in time.
Visa regulations are straightforward. As long as you meet the requirements, you should receive your visa. Visa regulations are being reviewed and will come into effect from July 1, 2016. Genuine applicants will then have a more simplified process to apply for visas. On completion of their course, students who meet the criteria have the option of converting their student visas into post-study work visas, which allow students to stay on in Australia to gain work experience for two to four years depending on the course completed.
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