Factors to Consider
Because of the size and variety of higher educational institutions in Australia, the quality of any given institution and its programs are hard to determine. The most expensive institution is not necessarily the best, nor is every program at a highly regarded institution of the same quality.
For graduate students, the research and publication records of the faculty in your chosen field are probably the best measures of quality, but sometimes the department might not have a top processor in the specialization students seek. Ask current professors for advice and guidance. They are usually the best sources of information on the quality of a graduate program.
Factors that can affect the quality of the education available to undergraduates include:
- Class size: are all classes taught in a lecture format, or are smaller seminars and discussion sessions available for undergraduates?
- Opportunities for independent research and direct work with faculty: are there service learning opportunities, undergraduate research programs, and an honors program?
- Educational background of the student body: is the institution nonselective ("open enrollment"), selective, competitive, or highly competitive?
Graduate students will want to consider the type and number of research or study facilities available. You may want to know how many libraries the school has, how many volumes those libraries contain, and whether students can borrow books from libraries at other institutions using inter-library loans.
In addition to acclimating yourself with the library options, look for information about special research collections, laboratories, and other facilities that can affect your education opportunities. The more information about the university you can obtain ahead of time, the easier it will be for you to decide where you want to study.
The ambiance or mood of a campus can also be an important factor. Some universities may stress friendliness, community involvement, and personal attention. Others may stress independence and offer less personal advising and supervision. It is important to read an institution's promotional material to determine whether a campus is going to suit your needs.
Tuition costs for international students can vary greatly from one institution to the next, ranging from $23,000 to $45,000 per year. In some cases, scholarships or other types of financial assistance may be available through the institution. In other cases the source may be a private foundation, a private company, or your home government. Financial assistance may come in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or tuition reductions. During your selection process, keep tuition rates and the availability or unavailability of financial assistance in mind.
When choosing an institution, you will also want to consider the cost of living in the surrounding area. Costs of living can vary just as greatly as tuitions. In different parts of the country and even between different cities in the same state, prices will fluctuate. US students can access study abroad loans for programs in Australia, and foreign enrolled loans for full degree programs at approved schools in Australia.
If your English skills are very limited, you may need to attend an English language institute before beginning your degree program. In that case, be sure to select a university that offers an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) program preceding academic enrollment.
Conditional or provisional admission may be offered to you if your academic or professional qualifications are up to par but your English needs additional improvement. If you are given this type of admission, you may be required to complete English language courses or retake standardized language proficiency tests before being allowed to enroll in degree-seeking courses. You may be required to satisfy this condition during your first or second term.
It is very important to know the university's policies on English-language testing and classes. When you are admitted to an institution, you should carefully examine the documents in your admission packet to determine whether you will be required to enroll in ESL courses. If you are an international graduate student and are interested in applying for a graduate teaching or laboratory assistantship, pay particular attention to any special English-language or other preparation programs that may be required for such assistantships.
If you are an international graduate student and are interested in applying for a graduate teaching or laboratory assistantship, you will need to pay particular attention to any special English-language or other preparation programs that may be required for such assistantships.
Please visit: www.ESLdirectory.com for more information on ESL courses
Many universities have student health centers that offer basic medical care at little or no cost to students. If you know that you have a specific medical condition or will require regular medical care, you will want a university that has adequate student health services and is located near a comprehensive medical center. In countries like the United States, accidents can rack up exorbitant medical bills. While Australia boasts a universal healthcare system, there may be limitations if you’re not a citizen. Do your research and make sure you’re covered
Please visit: www.InternationalStudentInsurance.com for information on international health and travel insurance.
Housing is an important consideration, especially if you are married and want your family to accompany you to Australia while you are studying. Some universities offer married students housing on campus. In many locations you can find reasonably priced apartments or houses for rent. If you are single, you may want to live in a campus residence hall with a roommate. Be aware that some urban universities have little or no student housing.
Personal safety is important everywhere. Some institutions may be able to provide you with statistics about the types and numbers of crimes that occur on their campuses. Crime can happen anywhere. Regardless of where you choose to study, you should learn about common safety and crime prevention strategies.
Most universities offer a wide array of clubs and organizations representing student interests. You will find cultural and religious associations, sports teams and sports clubs, volunteer service organizations, academic societies, music and theater groups, international student organizations, and many other opportunities for social activity. All of these are good opportunities to meet others and develop friendships. Some institutions will offer fewer social activities.
Excellent colleges and universities are found all around Australia, in cities large and small, as well as in small towns and rural areas. It’s best not to assume that all of the best universities are located in large cities. Consider whether you might prefer living near the ocean, near the mountains, or in the plains because each location will likely have a good school.
Climate may be important to you. Students from hot, dry climates may be uncomfortable studying in humid climates or in areas that have a full range of seasons including very cold weather. You should be able to find detailed information about the weather conditions and average seasonal temperatures through the resources at your educational advising center or on the internet. We have also compiled a brief run-down of climate for Australia - click here to access this.
It may be very important to you to be a part of a religious community while you are studying in Australia. Whether you pray in a church or mosque, you’ll want to make sure you are able to practice your religion freely at and near the university you choose. Be sure to research how many are in proximity to your campus.