Down under: Study or work abroad in Australia
Visa requirements and general paperwork
If you’re planning on heading out to Australia for your year abroad, you should look into visa requirements, depending on what you’d like to do out there. If you’re looking to get onto a course at a university, you are still entitled to work 20 hours a week during term time, and as many as you like during the holidays. Visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for more info. If you’re planning on working in Australia over a course of a few months, you will probably need your employer to sponsor you for your visa. The site’s also posted a really interesting video on YouTube about what you need to know and look out for:
If you’re planning your gap year in Australia, chances are you don’t know where to start. The FCO’s website offers great tips and checklists to help you sort out the basics. If you’re in limbo as to what to do, you could get a voluntary work placement with a host of people and websites. You could try sorting something out with gapyear and pure-australia to work on different projects - from teaching to fruit picking, it’s all available to you! It is worth considering that you will probably have to fork out a fee to participate on a volunteering project abroad. You could try and fundraise to start saving for it by baking cakes for a good cause, running part of race or even selling some of your junk on ebay to name but a few things. Generally speaking, if you are signing up to a gap year scheme, you will get talked through your visa application by experts.
While you’re abroad, you should consider enrolling yourself on the British Embassy register, in case anything goes wrong. You can find your local embassies here. Don’t forget to photocopy your passport and visa, emailing a copy to yourself and your guardians, in case your documents get lost or damaged along your trip.
A requirement for your entrance into Australia as a student is to get Overseas Student Health Cover. You need to check whether your home university has an agreement with any one of the providers listed, and check out our Insurance section.
Getting proper insurance is crucial regardless of what you are doing out in Australia - in case an accident occurs at work or you get your luggage stolen or misplaced, you will be glad you took it out. Additionally, as Australia is a popular tourist destination, you are likely to be more targeted. Crime rates are generally low, but taking unnecessary risks are to be avoided so make sure your policy covers you from bags, flights to the finer detail, like water sports and such like.
Where to go
Australia is a pretty big country, so deciding where to go can be a bit difficult, as there is a lot to see. Whether you’re into cities or the outback, gorgeous stretches of terracotta coloured plains or looking to test out your surf board, there will be a place you can call home. If you plan on studying, big cities like Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney should suit what you’re looking for. Speak to your home university about any links your department may have with Australian universities. If your choices don’t fit the (personal) bill, you can always have a look at the Australian university league table to help you choose your ideal uni. To get more info about studying in Australia, Study Options has a wealth of information on the subject, including support with the application process, so make sure you check them out.
Working in Australia, depending on your line of work/internship, will probably involve moving to a city. Intern Options is based in London and can secure you an internship in a variety of fields, which include IT, Tourism, PR and more. If you want to steer clear of additional fees, you should start thinking about which sector of work you would like to specialise in for your time away and contact companies individually. Of course, if you fancy escaping the city, you can make the most of the outdoors by keeping an eye for opportunities on sites like WWOOF, which offer a host of odd jobs. Check with your university if you are planning on getting such work on your year abroad, as academic requirements may impede you from doing so. As a gap year student, however, you will probably have more flexibility, entitling you to work on such projects without worrying too much about what your lecturer might say.
Check out Amelia's blog, The Sydney Experience, for videos and advice about studying abroad in Sydney, based on her experiences.
Cost of living
Living in Australia can put some people off, as it is not that much cheaper than some parts of the States or cities in the UK. However, it is still a tad cheaper and you will be surfing the waves and petting koalas on a daily basis (ok, maybe not daily, but often!), meaning you are getting your money’s worth as you’ll experience a rich quality of life. A good website to base your expenses on, giving you an average (make sure you check that the currency is in GBP at the top) is numbeo. Here, you’ll get a list of what to expect, from how much you’ll spend on food, rent, bills and more. A great way to plan your budget before leaving, with the option to change the settings to include your chosen city.
If you plan on studying, you can still get paid part-time work to help you with your finances. Some internships are paid as well as teaching posts, so read the fine print before you set sail and get packing - your year abroad in Australia is going to be a scorcher, mate!
Still confused? Try one of these cost of living calculators:
Living costs for the US and Australia - this one is useful for those of you who are moving between US and Australian cities, as it allows for a direct comparison.
Cost of Living index - this calculator compares the average prices between many major cities for things like transportation and eating out, allowing you to get an idea of what you're getting in to!