Student Timeline

If you are planning to study in Australia, there are many things to arrange (institution applications, student visas and Overseas Student Health Cover, just to name a few), and most of it needs to be done well in advance.

You can use this handy checklist to ensure you are prepared. Tick off each task as you complete it and you should be well on your way to studying in Australia.

Two years prior to arrival
  • RESEARCH: it is never too early to start conducting the important initial research that will help you to decide on the right study destination, institution and course for you. Start researching the education providers that you are interested in. Talk to graduates, current students and other prospective students. Learn more about the location of your preferred education provider, what support services are available and your career options after you finish studying. Email the education provider to find out more information and visit their website. This website also contains helpful information and allows you to make an enquiry directly to an Australian institution.
18 months prior to arrival
  • CHECK THE ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: check the academic and English language requirements for entry to your course prior to applying. You can generally do this via the institution's website or by calling the international student office.
  • ORGANISE ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTING (IF NECESSARY): ask your institution whether you will need to demonstrate your English proficiency, which tests they accept and what score you will need. If you require testing, you should register for the test about 18 months prior to commencing your studies because you will need the results in order for your student visa to be processed, and many tests require applicants to register three months prior to taking the test. It is important not to register too early because institutions typically only accept results that are less than two years old.
12 to 14 months prior to arrival
  • APPLY: make an enquiry to your preferred education provider and request the necessary forms for your application. Generally speaking, institutions do not set specific deadlines for international student applications, but it is best to apply as early as possible so that you have time to organise a visa, flights and accommodation. You can have the forms posted to you, apply online through the institution's website or apply through an education agent or at an education fair. For more information, see Applying for Admission.
  • COMPLETE AND SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION: read all application materials carefully and make sure you are aware of any conditions or requirements. Remember that application deadlines vary between institutions and courses. It can take a few weeks to complete the application when you need to track down the necessary supporting documentation and get certified copies (or certified translations) made. Most institutions take between four and six weeks to assess applications.
10 to 12 months prior to arrival
  • ACCEPT YOUR OFFER: once you have received your letter of offer you will need to accept it before it lapses. Read the offer very carefully to ensure that course details and fee amounts are correct. Students with 'unconditional' offers are free to accept the offer and make their first tuition payments to the provider, which will result in the grant of a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). Students with 'conditional' offers will need to satisfy other conditions before they receive a CoE are able to enrol.
  • MEET THE CONDITIONS: if you receive a conditional offer of enrolment, you will need to find out what conditions need to be met (usually supplying evidence of English language proficiency or overseas qualifications) and return certified copies of all necessary documentation to the institution by the date stipulated.
  • APPLY FOR A STUDENT VISA: visa processing through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) or an Australian visa office in your home country can take up to 12 weeks, so apply as soon as you receive your letter of offer or Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). You are able to apply for your student visa using either a letter of offer or a CoE from your education provider, but if you submit a letter of offer your student visa will only be granted once the CoE has been issued. The application process and the processing time differ depending on your assessment level. For more information about the visa application process and assessment levels, see Student Visas.
  • ORGANISE YOUR OVERSEAS STUDENT HEALTH COVER (OSHC): OSHC is a necessary requirement for all international students (except those from Belgium, Sweden and Norway) and must be maintained for the duration of your studies in Australia. Purchase your OSHC as soon as you have received your letter of offer (at the same time as you apply for your student visa) because you will need to have OSHC in order to satisfy the grant of your student visa and accept your offer. For more information, see Overseas Student Health Cover.
Three to four months prior to arrival
  • ORGANISE YOUR ACCOMMODATION: you should start exploring your accommodation options as soon as you have received your offer and your student visa has been granted so you can secure your preferred accommodation. You might need to put your name on a waiting list for on-campus accommodation. If your education provider doesn't offer accommodation you will have to organise off-campus housing. For more information, see Accommodation.
  • BOOK YOUR FLIGHT: you can book your flight once your institution and visa applications are approved and accommodation arrangements have been made. Make sure you allow enough time to settle in before classes start and that your arrival date coordinates with international student orientation sessions and your accommodation check-in date.
Two weeks prior to arrival
  • ORGANISE AIRPORT PICK-UP: many providers offer a free airport pick-up service for international students. If this is not provided, you will need to make your own arrangements. At this point you should also confirm your arrival date and time with your accommodation provider so you can be sure that they are expecting you.

Please note this timeline is a guide only. Check with your Australian education provider and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for your specific requirements.

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