The Australian Government is committed to ensuring you have an excellent education experience in Australia.
Our new fact sheet for international students contains important information about their rights and responsibilities while studying in Australia.
This fact sheet gives you information on:
• choosing and enrolling in a course of study
• support services available in Australia
• the rights and responsibilities of students on a student visa
• working in Australia
• making complaints and getting help.
For more information about studying in Australia visit Study in Australia or check out OECD Better life Index- Life in Australia.
Download you free International Student guide to Sydney here.
Australia is a land of contrasts: sweeping golden beaches, coral reefs rich with marine life, tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, vast grazing lands and sparse deserts.
One of the oldest continents, Australia is the only country to occupy an entire continent.
Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia has many animals and plants, which are unique on the planet. The surface geology is typically old and flat with a major mountain range stretching down the eastern coast and another mountain range in the north west of the continent.
New South Wales
New South Wales is a south-eastern Australian state, distinguished by its coastal cities and national parks. Sydney, its capital, is home to iconic structures such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Inland are the rugged Blue Mountains, rainforests and outback towns where opals are mined. Along the coastline are long surfing beaches. The Hunter Valley region, in the north, has dozens of wineries.
New South Wales also known as NSW has the largest population in Australia. The state’s capital city is Sydney. Sydney is Australia’s most populated city with an estimated population of over 4.4 million people. NSW is located in south-eastern Australia. It has a total area of 800,642 km² and covers 10.4 percent of Australia. New South Wales’ coastline is only 2137 km long.
Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds the world's largest natural harbour, and sprawls towards the Blue Mountains to the west. Residents of Sydney are known as "Sydneysiders". Sydney is the secondary official seat and secondary official residence of the Governor-General of Australia and the Prime Minister of Australia.
The Sydney area has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years. The first British settlers, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, arrived in 1788 to found Sydney as a penal colony, the first European settlement in Australia. Since convict transportation ended in the mid-19th century, the city has transformed from a colonial outpost into a major global cultural and economic centre. As at June 2016 Sydney's estimated population was 5,005,358. In the 2011 census, 34 percent of the population reported having been born overseas, representing many different nationalities and making Sydney one of the most multicultural cities in the world. There are more than 250 different languages spoken in Sydney and about one-third of residents speak a language other than English at home.
Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world, the 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranks Sydney tenth in the world in terms of quality of living, making it one of the most liveable cities. It is classified as an Alpha+ World City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, indicating its influence in the region and throughout the world. Ranked eleventh in the world for economic opportunity, Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance, manufacturing and tourism. Its gross regional product was $337 billion in 2013, the largest in Australia. There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney and the city is promoted as one of Asia Pacific's leading financial hubs. Polytechnic Institute Australia (PIA) is located right in the heart of Sydney, which was named the top destination in the world for international students by the A.T. Kearney 2014 Global Cities Index and Emerging Cities Outlook.
In addition to hosting events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney is amongst the top fifteen most-visited cities in the world, with millions of tourists coming each year to see the city's landmarks. Its natural features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, and the Royal Botanic Garden. Man-made attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are also well known to international visitors.
The Study Sydney web site is a useful source of information, established by the New South Wales government with information specifically on Sydney and regional cities in New South Wales. The web site address is http://www.study.sydney/
Much emphasis is placed upon private (individual) study along the lines of assignments, on research and learning to analyse data and present arguments about subject matter, and on being willing to defend one's argument. All these involve heavy use of libraries, intensive note taking in lectures, and active participation in the learning process (as opposed to passive listening and rote learning).
PIA offers the use of a Learning Management Platform for it students to interact and engage in after lectures and Tutorials. Student are required to have basic digital literacy prior to commencing.
To be a successful student, you will need to adapt to these methods of learning, but most education institutions in Australia are very willing to help as they offer counselling services and assistance to develop effective study skills. Many lecturers in Australia have vast experience teaching overseas students, they understand the difficulties in getting used to different study methods and they will be patient in helping you to develop new skills
Sydney enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons in the year - spring, summer, winter and autumn. Below is a guide to the average daily temperatures.
Spring September - November 11-23 degrees
Summer December to February 19-30 degrees
Autumn March to May 15 - 22 degrees
Winter June to August 9 - 17 degrees
Sydney does not have a specific wet season - it can rain at any time of the year.
Sports and other outdoor activities are possible at all times of the year.
For a full list of festivals and events please visit http://www.sydney.com/events-festivals-and-celebrations
- Annual Sydney Comedy Festival
- Pyrmont Wine, Food and Art Festival
- Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia
- Sydney Writers Festival.
- Sydney Film Festival
- Australian International Music Festival
- Sydney Fringe Festival
- Sydney Underground Film Festival
- Woolworths Carols in the Domain
International sporting events:
- Invictus Games
- Golf Australian Open
- Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
- Sydney International (tennis)
Money and banks
Australian currency is the only legal tender in Australia. When you first arrive, money from other countries can be changed at the exchange facilities located at international airports, banks, major hotels and currency exchange kiosks in major shopping centres. Traveller’s cheques are easier to use if already in Australian dollars; however, banks will cash travellers cheques in virtually any currency. Major hotels and some shops, depending on individual store policy, will cash travellers cheques.
It is a good idea to set up an Australian bank account. You will need to provide your visa and evidence of residency. Banking services in Australia are extremely competitive. Over 20 local and numerous international banking groups are represented in Australia. All major banks have a branch in cities and regional centres. Most shopping centres have Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) facilities. These machines can be used for withdrawals and, in many instances, deposits 24 hours a day. Many department stores, supermarkets and specialist shops have electronic transfer terminals (EFTPOS) where cash withdrawals can also be made in addition to purchasing goods.
Normal bank trading hours
9.30 am – 4.00 pm Monday to Thursday
9.30 am – 5.00 pm Friday
Some banks are open Saturday mornings.
Credit cards are widely accepted around Australia. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Diners Club International, Mastercard, Visa and their affiliates.
Australia uses a dollars and cents system of decimal currency with 100 cents in a dollar. The bank notes in use are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins used are the silver coloured 5-cent, 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent, and the gold-coloured $1 and $2 coins.
Australia's development of the polymer (plastic) banknote heralds the introduction of advanced banknote technology for the new millennium and rewrites world standards in design. Not only does this leading-edge polymer technology offer immense security benefits but its concepts of cleanliness, environmental responsibility and recyclability set an example for the world to follow.
Tipping is not the general custom in Australia and service charges are not added to accounts by hotels and restaurants. In better-class restaurants, it is usual to tip food and drink waiters up to 10% of the bill for good service.
Porters have set charges at railway terminals, but not at hotels. However, at any time, tipping is a matter of individual choice.
The following types of accommodation are available for International students:
- Hostels and Guesthouses - $90 to $150 per week
- Shared Rental - $85 to $215 per week
- On campus - $90 to $280 per week
- Homestay - $235 to $325 per week
- Rental - $165 to $440 per week
- Boarding schools - $11,000 to $22,000 a year
Other living expenses
- Groceries and eating out - $80 to $280 per week
- Gas, electricity - $35 to $140 per week
- Phone and Internet - $20 to $55 per week
- Public transport - $15 to $55 per week
- Car (after purchase) - $150 to $260 per week
- Entertainment - $80 to $150 per week
* Source: studyinaustralia.gov.au
This accommodation can be booked prior to arrival. Two weeks’ advance notice is required before you depart for Australia. Further details can be obtained from the Student Support Officer.
Some useful internet sites for housing are:
Youth Central Housing and Accommodation
Australia has an efficient public transport system (buses, trains, trams and ferries) in all cities. Many students ride bicycles and some even have their own car for longer travel. There are also train, bus and air services between cities and towns. Domestic students using public transport can apply for a student concession card that entitles them to discounted fares.
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
International students are required by the Government to join a private health insurance scheme. The OSHC premium cover must be paid before a student visa is issued. You will need to pay the OSHC premium at the same time as the tuition fees. The OSHC entitles you to free hospital cover and 85% of standard doctors’ fees.
Indicative annual rates are AU$544 for single coverage, AU$3062 for couples and AU$5373 for family coverage. OSHC is also charged on a pro-rata basis for shorter courses.
For information relating to health cover please click here to visit the Department of Health web site or to visit PIA preferred provider BUPA website to get a quote click here.
Annual Cost of Living
Sydney is a reasonably priced city providing good quality affordable living and abundant accommodation. You should work out a budget covering accommodation, food, transport, clothing and entertainment. Childcare, if applicable, should also be taken into account.
The Department of Home Affairs has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa for Australia. From 1 July 2016 the 12-month living cost is:
- You - $20,290
- Partner or spouse - $7,100
- Child - $3,040
Australia is a sophisticated, friendly and affordable country that enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. The average international student in Australia spends about $440 per week on accommodation; food; clothing; entertainment; transport; international and domestic travel; telephone; incidental costs. School students in Australia typically spend about $299 per week on accommodation and food, entertainment, transport and associated items. While this is a realistic guide, it is important to remember that individual circumstances will vary by location, course and lifestyle.
The cost of living depends a lot on the kind of accommodation a student chooses. A married student with dependents will need approximately an additional AU$2,970 per year for each dependent plus AU$6,940 for their spouse or partner.
The lifestyle in Australia is safe and friendly. Australians have a high standard of living. The climate is pleasant, there is plenty of food and the vast natural resources in Australia enable most people to live well.
Fruit, vegetables and meat are available fresh and at reasonable prices. Clothing and personal effects are usually good quality and available at a wide variety of prices.
Below is a price table of typical daily items. This is only a guide. Remember that you can shop around for items such as clothing and shoes to find a cheaper source.
Milk 1 litre $1.36
Shoes 1 pair $162.00
Bread 1 loaf $2.23
Jeans 1 pair $98.00
Apples 1 kg $4.62
Toothpaste 140g $3.80
Potatoes 1 kg $3.67
Shampoo 500ml $5.71
Chicken breast 500gm $6.00
Eggs 1 dozen $7.00
Hairdresser (men’s and ladies)$25.00 to $140.00
cheese 500gm $11.00
Coca-Cola 2 litres $3.20
Cinema ticket $25.00
Tomatoes 1 kg $5.56
Public transport city an inner suburbs monthly $149.00 for a monthly pass.
PIA is only a 5 minutes’ walk to the heart of the Sydney CBD and its magnificent retail, cultural, dining and business districts.
As well as the local retail, entertainment and dining facilities in Sydney has to offer.
For more information on Life in Australia, please visit http://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/Trav/Life/Aust/Life-in-Australia-book
(Translated copies are available)
Fair Work Ombudsman
Like many international students, you may get a part time or casual job to help pay your living expenses while you study in Australia. It is important that you know your rights in the workplace.
All people working in Australia have basic rights and protections in the workplace, including minimum pay and conditions. The Fair Work Ombudsman makes sure that these rights are protected and enforced fairly under Australia’s workplace laws.
This fact sheet will help you understand your basic workplace rights, where to obtain further information, and how to seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman. For more information, contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au.
All references to an award or agreement in this fact sheet include modern awards, enterprise agreements, and award or agreement-based transitional instruments.
The above information is extracted directly from the Fair Work web site click here for more information or here to down load the fact sheet.
International student transfer policy
Under the revised National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers for Education and Training to Overseas (the National Code), registered providers are only able to enrol transferring students in the first six months from the commencement of the student's principal course of study in limited circumstances. For further information on Polytechnic Institute Australia Policy International, student transfer procedures click here.
Please note that if you are transferring to another education provider, may influence your visa.
If your new course is at a lower level, you may need to apply for a new student visa.
For further information, please refer to Department of Home Affairs website or contact them on 131 881 to discuss your circumstances.
Under the ESOS Framework, PIA cannot enrol students seeking to transfer from another institute before that student has completed six months of their principal course of study, except in some circumstances. If you want to transfer from PIA before completing six months of your principal course, you need to ask PIA for a letter of release. The six months is calculated as six calendar months from the first day of your principal course. Your principal course is usually the final course of study you will undertake. For example, if you are studying ELICOS followed by a degree program, the degree program is your principal course. If you are considering requesting a transfer before completing six months of your principal course of study please contact PIA administration for a copy of the transfer procedure and the application form.
Letters of release will be issued to eligible students free of charge.
Students do not need a letter of release if:
- they have completed more than 6 months of your principal course
- they are a government sponsored student, and their sponsor supports a transfer
- their current education provider or course has ceased to be registered or a sanction has been imposed that prevents your provider from continuing to deliver your principal course
Full time study and attendance
Australian law requires international students to study at a full time study load. A full-time study load at PIA is a minimum of 8 units per year.
Students will have their attendance monitored because poor attendance means that students will not progress through the course at the required rate. For students who have unsatisfactory academic progress PIA is required to review your involvement, counsel you, implement an intervention strategy and, if unsatisfactory progress persists, notify the Department of Education and Training.