Finding Financial Support for your Australian Studies

In principle students can get support from Australian and/or German sources. We look at both these possibilities.

Scholarships from Australia

Here the situation is bleak. Australian universities do occasionally offer support for undergraduates on a merit basis. However the chances of obtaining such support are minimal and you should never rely on being awarded an Australian scholarship to fund your studies.

Working to Earn Money in Australia

The Australian Government makes it a condition of student visas that international students should study full time while in Australia. This normally means that an international coursework student must study four teaching units/subjects per semester, although in some circumstances three are permitted.

An appropriate student visa allows students to work at a part-time job for not more than 20 hours per week during lecture periods. In the breaks between the semesters they can work full-time. However, it is unrealistic for you to expect to be able to fund your studies from working while in Australia. At best you can supplement your income this way, if you are lucky enough to find a job.

Scholarships for Undergraduates and Coursework Postgraduates

Scholarships from the Universities:

Some universities officially announce a scholarship programme, for which students can formally apply, but many universities do not have a process which allows undergraduate and coursework postgraduate students to apply for a scholarship. In such cases, if any scholarships are available at all, international students are automatically considered for a scholarship. (If you are applying for BAföG assistance you will need a certificate from the university which you plan to attend indicating that you have applied for a scholarship. The universities will sign this form − after you have received at least a conditional offer to study at the university − even if the consideration is automatic.)

My experience with automatic applications for scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students is not very positive. Despite sending many students with high marks (even some with an average mark of 1.0) only one of my students has ever received such a scholarship. This was for a Master of Information Technology programme at Monash University in Melbourne and had a value of $1,500 per semester for the first two semesters of study − only about 8 % of the tuition fee for two semesters.

The conclusion is that you should not expect a scholarship from an Australian university for undergraduate or postgraduate coursework studies, even if you have very high marks.

Scholarships from the Australian Government:

If you are considering for studying in a coursework master programme and your marks are good, there is one scholarship programme worth considering, an Australian Endeavour Europe Award. You will find details of this at
https://internationaleducation.gov.au/Endeavour%20program/Scholarships-and-Fellowships/Pages/default.aspx

This scholarship is available for coursework degrees only at the master level. It has very strict requirements which you can read in the Application Guidelines You should read this whole document very carefully, and if you do not understand what appears to be an important point, please write to me for clarification.

Applications can be submitted between April and July (main round) and in December and January (second round). Results of the main round are announced in November and results of the second round in early April. Main round scholarships can start in time for Semester 1 and second round scholarships in time for Semester 2 in Australia. Award holders must commence their award no later than November.

The Endeavour Europe Awards are described in more detail in section 8.5 of the application guidelines and at the time of writing provide a travel allowance of A$4,500, an establishment allowance of A$4,000 and a monthly stipend of A$2,500 per month (maximum one year). The OSHC cost is also paid, but there is no additional cover for tuition fees.

There are several further important conditions and requirements to be met, including that you must have an offer from a university at the time of application. Remember that the number of applications which are accepted is severely limited and is based primarily on merit. So you should plan to apply for a scholarship only if you have very good marks at the bachelor level.

Scholarships for Research (Ph.D. Programmes)

In Germany most doctoral programmes are funded indirectly by means of professorial assistants (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter) who are employed by the German university. This is not the case in Australia. Occasionally professors do employ Ph.D. candidates as assistants from their research grants, but there are few such positions available.

However, there are scholarships for Ph.D. students and here the situation is different from that for coursework students. The scholarships themselves can be very generous, in the best case paying all the tuition fees for up to three years and paying a full living allowance. These scholarships, which may be supported either by the Australian government or by the relevant Australian university, are all administered by the university. There is a complex and time-consuming application process (which is not further described in this book) but you should realise that the chance of obtaining a Ph.D. scholarship is very low.

In Australia the Government channels far more research funding to the Group of Eight (elite) universities than to the other universities, which means that Group of Eight universities offer most of the available Ph.D. scholarships. On the other hand because these are the top universities they get very many applications for scholarships from students worldwide.

Because helping German students to obtain Ph.D. funding was a time-intensive activity for me, I didn't not offer all students my help. I very carefully decided whom I will help and rigorously stood by my decision. If you asked for my help in this respect and I did not offer it, I did not change my mind. You should realise that even if you think that you have good results in Germany, this is not a guarantee for getting Australian Ph.D. funding.

Scholarships from the Universities (including IPRS Scholarships):

My experience here has been quite good. In the recent past I have assisted five German students to apply for such scholarships and four of the five applications were successful. But this is only because I made a very careful decision about the students I was prepared to help, and I helped only those where I think there is a good chance of success. If I was not prepared to help you, you could of course make your own application, but you could not expect my help if I indicated that in my view the chances are not very good.

Scholarships are only offered to students with very high marks. One of my successful applicants, for example had completed two German courses in parallel (Diplom in mathematics and Diplom in computer science) and in all his examinations in both subjects, without exception, he had a mark of 1.0. This gives you some idea of what competition you will have to face!

For scholarships of this type your application will have to reach the university on time, often in October for the following February, although in some cases there is also a second round of scholarships later in the year. This means that you will probably have to start preparations (including for example obtaining references from your professors in Germany) at the latest in about August. Late applications are simply ignored by the university committees. You will also need endorsement from an Australian professor who is prepared to supervise your research.

Scholarships from the Australian Government:

If you are considering for studying in a PhD programme and your marks are good, there is one scholarship programme worth considering, an Australian Endeavour Europe Award. You will find details of this at
http://www.endeavour.deewr.gov.au/international_applicants/europe_awards.htm

Notice that the award for which Germany should apply is not an Endeavour Postgraduate Award but an Endeavour Europe Award. (According to section 9 of the guidelines Germany is not a participating country in the former.)

This scholarship is available for research degrees and provides funding for a maximum of one year. It has very strict requirements which you can read in the Application Guidelines. You should read this whole document very carefully.

Applications can be submitted between April and July (main round) and in December and January (second round). Results of the main round are announced in November and results of the second round in early April. Main round scholarships can start in time for Semester 1 and second round scholarships in time for Semester 2 in Australia. Award holders must commence their award no later than November.

The Endeavour Europe Awards are described in more detail in section 8.5 of the application guidelines and at the time of writing provide a travel allowance of A$4,500, an establishment allowance of A$4,000 and a monthly stipend of A$2,500 per month (maximum one year). The OSHC cost is also paid, but there is no additional cover for tuition fees.

There are several further important conditions and requirements to be met, including that you have an offer from a university at the time of application. Remember that the number of applications which are accepted is severely limited and is based primarily on merit. So you should plan to apply for a scholarship only if you have very good marks at the bachelor level.

The Australian Government provides IPRS scholarships for supporting research programmes, but these are administered directly by the universities and are included in the previous section (Scholarships from the Universities), see http://www.innovation.gov.au/audience/researchers-and-universities

Funding from Germany

You have a much higher chance of obtaining funding for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework courses in Australia from German sources. But I suspect that less than 50% of German students who want to study in Australia can find external funding. You can only be relatively optimistic if you

  • have an independent source of funding (for example, a rich parent ...),
  • are receiving BAföG, or the income of your parents is on the borderline for BAföG,
  • have better than average marks in your German university course, and/or
  • are supported by an appropriate Stiftung.

The German Ministry for Business and Technology (BMWT) and the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) both provide helpful databases for scholarship seekers, which are available on-line under
http://www.foerderdatenbank.de
and
https://www.stipendienlotse.de

The DAAD also provides a database of scholarships and references to other organisations which provide scholarships (see section 3.2.2 below).

I strongly recommend that you use all these databases. When you use the search facility provided at this website, make sure that you tick all the criteria which are relevant to your search in order to ensure that it finds all the scholarships and sources of funding which could be relevant to you.

Otherwise the only possible additional source of funding may be a credit from the German government or a German bank, which you will have to pay back, but at a favourable interest rate.

The information below is provided as a starting point to help you in your search for funding, but I strongly recommend that you do not rely on this information, for which I provide no guarantee. Instead you should always visit the original websites to get up-to-date information and also to find other sources of scholarships.

BAföG

You can find the up-to-date definitive information about BAföG for studying in Australia at the official BAföG website: http://www.bafög.de/ and more specifically for Australia: http://www.bafög.de/de/ausland---studium-schulische-ausbildung-praktika-441.php?et=AUS#dtl

You should always check that the information below is up to date, because the AuslandsBAföG rules change quite often!

Different BAföG offices are responsible for different countries. At the time of writing the office responsible for Australia is:

Studentenwerk Marburg Amt für Ausbildungsförderung
Erlenring 5
35037 Marburg

Tel.: 06421 / 296 -203, -204 Fax: 06421 - 15761
E-Mail: mailer.uni-marburg.de
Internet: http://www.studentenwerk-marburg.de/

You will find information about studying in Australia at: http://www.studentenwerk-marburg.de/bafoeg-finanzierung/auslandsfoerderung/studium-in-australien.html

You should apply if possible at least six months before your studies in Australia are due to begin. (I have experienced cases where students have told me that a late application was accepted, but I would not encourage you to take the risk.)

WARNING: You should be aware that if you are granted BAföG for a study in Australia you will NOT receive the money until after you have started your Australian studies. After that your AuslandsBAföG will be paid to you in monthly instalments. This can be a big problem for you because you will have to pay your first instalment of tuition fees and your OSHC before you can obtain a student visa and fly to Australia. Be aware therefore that you will probably need to organise a temporary loan.

The following items (which reflect the rules from 1/8/2008) are covered by AuslandsBAföG as an additional payment over and above what you normally receive from BAföG:

  • tuition fee contribution (up to a maximum of € 4,600),
  • travel contribution (at most €500 per flight for one return journey),
  • health insurance costs,
  • an additional allowance to help cover the cost of living (for Australia currently €85 per month).

The rules state that for grants agreed up to the end of July 2008 these additional items need not be paid back (in contrast with normal BAföG). However, from the beginning of August 2008 half the amount of theses items is considered to be a loan, which must be paid back. (Exception: the tuition fee contribution is not repayable.)

The maximum tuition fee of €4,600 will normally be scarcely adequate to pay for a one semester Study Abroad programme at most Australian universities, so that you will almost certainly need to contribute at least a small amount yourself. If you are contemplating two or more semesters (e.g. in order to complete a bachelor or master degree) then you will certainly have to pay for more than half the fees from some other source.

Before you receive any payment from BAföG you will need to prove to the BAföG office that you have been accepted by an Australian university, and later that you have enrolled at the university. The form confirming acceptance can be sent to me after you have received an offer from the university and I will organise that it is signed and returned to you. In order to prove that you are enrolled you must already be studying in Australia and you can therefore easily organise for yourself that the university administration signs the form.

WARNING: The BAföG website for Australia
http://www.studentenwerk-marburg.de/de/finanzierung/auslandsfoerderung/studium-in-australien-kopie-1.html
includes the condition:
"Das Studium muss mindestens sechs Monate oder ein Semester dauern; Trimester erfüllen diese Voraussetzung nicht. Im Falle eines Kooperationsabkommens (DAAD, bilaterale Hochschulpartnerschaften) muss die Ausbildung mindestens zwölf Wochen dauern. Wichtig: Selbst geringfügige Abweichungen führen dazu, dass das Studium nicht gefördert werden kann. Fügen Sie bitte ggf. eine Kopie der Ausfertigung des Kooperationsabkommens bei."

There are at least two universities in Australia for which the BaföG office may refuse to fund you if you enrol for only one semester. These are Deakin University in Melbourne and Bond University on the Gold Coast. Both these universities are known for their innovative ideas, and had the idea of providing 3 semesters per year. Each of these semesters is a full semester, running over at least twelve weeks (like many other universities in Australia, including for example the University of Sydney). This has several advantages for the universities and for students. For example the universities can make a better use of lecture theatres, etc. Students can, if they choose, complete their degree courses more quickly (e.g. a 3 semester master degree can be completed within a single calendar year); however neither of these universities insists that students must study for more than two semesters per year. For international students this system has the important advantage that they can save money on rental accommodation and other living costs. But the authorities responsible for BAföG have decided that students studying for only one semester in these universities cannot receive Auslands- BAföG. (The fact that Deakin University refers to these semesters as "trimesters", while Bond University refers to them as "semesters" is not relevant for the BAföG authorities.)

As background information you should be aware that in the U.S. academic system (but not in Australia) a "trimester" is a period in which the teaching content for a year is divided equally into three trimesters, which usually last for about 8 weeks. I have attempted to convince the BAföG authorities that their decision regarding Deakin and Bond is inappropriate but they rejected my arguments on grounds which I fail to understand.

WARNING: If you also have a good chance of obtaining a DAAD scholarship (see next section) you should be aware that your DAAD scholarship will be reduced by the amount which you receive from BAföG. Furthermore according to one of my students who was already in Australia, DAAD will no longer provide you with travel costs, which leads to a net loss for you, because BAföG only pays part of your flight costs (see above) and is less generous in this respect than the DAAD!

You are not obliged to apply for AuslandsBAföG, and by refraining from making an application you will also save yourself considerable administrative work. But of course you have to be confident of success with your DAAD application!

Endowments (Stiftungen)

There are a number of organisations in Germany which help appropriate students to fund their studies. These are organisations which have been endowed, usually to further a particular cause, and from the proceeds of the endowment they may fund study periods abroad, including study in Australia. There is a surprisingly large number of such organisations, see
https://www.stiftungen.org
and
http://www.begabtenfoerderungswerke.de

In some cases you may have to "sell your soul to the devil", where the "devil" might be a political party, a church, a trade union, etc. You may also find that it is too late to join an endowed organisation in order to receive support for your planned study in Australia.

DAAD

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports German students who wish to study outside Germany. You can learn more about the scholarships which are offered by the DAAD and the selection process (which involves an interview) at their website:
https://www.daad.de/laenderinformationen/australien/de/

This website contains much information, but it is not always easy to find the information which you need, so you should persevere ...

The following information is intended only as a rough guide and is by no means exhaustive nor is it guaranteed to be up to date. The DAAD provides many details of its various scholarships which vary individually from scholarship to scholarship. I strongly suggest that you are very careful to ensure that you are looking at the scholarship or scholarships which apply to you. I recommend that you start at:
https://www.daad.de/ausland/studieren/stipendium/de/120-foerderungsorganisationen-im-berblick/

You can then for example visit the scholarship data base at:
https://www.daad.de/deutschland/stipendium/datenbank/de/21148-stipendiendatenbank/

Here you can enter the area of study which interests you, your destination country (Australia) and your status. With regard to status a distinction is drawn between students (which you can interpret as students who want to study in Australia as undergraduates, i.e. at the bachelor level) and graduates (i.e. students who are interested in enrolling in Australia at the postgraduate level, i.e. in master level courses). This distinction is important, because a different set of scholarships and conditions will be shown. If you are enrolled in one of the older style of German courses (e.g. Diplom or Magister) then the issue is whether you will be able to demonstrate "bachelor equivalence" for the Australian university. Bachelor equivalence is discussed in Chapter 5 sections 3.4 and 3.5.

The DAAD offers (at least) the following kinds of scholarships:

  • Scholarships for one year (Jahresstipendien) and for one semester (Semesterstipendien) for students of all faculties.
  • Postgraduate scholarships (for up to a year).
  • Scholarships for Master of Business Administration and for Master of Laws studies.
  • Scholarships for doctoral students (up to one year, in exceptional circumstances for up to 2 years).
  • Scholarships for "postdocs" (i.e. for scholars who have recently successfully completed a doctorate).

DAAD Scholarships include

  • a contribution (which can be used for tuition fees) of up to ca. €10.000,
  • for students who go to Australia a monthly allowance for up to 10 months, of ca. €675 (full scholarship) )/ca. €300 (part-scholarship) for undergraduates, of ca. €800 for graduates or of ca. €1,025 for doctoral students,
  • a contribution towards travel expenses, and health insurance.

The relatively small monthly allowance for undergraduates (part scholarships) reflects the fact that the DAAD expects you to contribute at least €466 out of your own pocket. Remember that these amounts may be out of date (and not necessarily higher!).

The web page
https://www.daad.de/deutschland/stipendium/datenbank/de/21148-stipendiendatenbank/
contains many useful tips for students.

You will find details about the closing dates for applications as part of the individual scholarship descriptions. In general the closing dates for the main scholarships are

  • for one year scholarships: end of March of the year before you plan to start your studies in Australia.
  • for one semester scholarships for the Australian first semester: end of September and end of March of the year before you plan to start.
  • for one semester scholarships for the Australian second semester: end of September of the year before you plan to start and end of March of the year in which you plan to start.
  • for doctoral scholarships: end of June, September, December and March of the year before you plan to start.
  • for MBA scholarships: end of August of the year before you plan to start.
  • for LLM scholarships: end of March of the year before you plan to start.

But please check the DAAD website to make sure this information is up-to-date!

The forms for making an application can be found at:
https://www.daad.de/ausland/service/downloads/de/

After you have applied you may be called up for an interview by a selection panel. It is important that you prepare well for this interview and make a good impression.

It is important that students can present at least a conditional offer from the university of their choice at their DAAD interview. (For more details of what a conditional offer implies, see Chapter 6). To make this possible your application to the university of your choice should be made as soon as possible.

You do not have to have to meet all the entry requirements before you can apply for a conditional offer. Usually I was able to organise a conditional offer for students within four weeks or less after a completed application has been sent to the university. The DAAD also provides information about other organisations which offer scholarships to students, see
https://www.daad.de/ausland/studieren/stipendium/de/120-foerderungsorganisationen-im-berblick/

WARNING: If you also have a good chance of obtaining AuslandsBAföG (see previous section) you should be aware that your DAAD scholarship will be reduced by the amount which you receive from BAföG. Furthermore according to one of my students who was already in Australia, DAAD will no longer provide you with travel costs, which leads to a net loss for you, because BAföG only pays part of your flight costs (see above) and is less generous in this respect than the DAAD!

You are not obliged to apply for AuslandsBAföG, and by refraining from making an application you will also save yourself considerable administrative work. But of course you have to be confident of success with your DAAD application!

Loans

If all else fails, then you can consider a low interest loan to fund your studies. However, please check first the conditions of the loan and ensure that you can fulfil these, especially with respect to repayments!

The German Government provides a loan facility via which you can borrow up to €7,200. For details see
http://www.bva.bund.de/

Alternatively you might consider a loan from the Deutsche Bank, see
https://www.deutsche-bank.de/

You need only to pay this loan back to the Deutsche Bank three months after you have begun working (or at the latest 12 months after you have completed your studies).

Other banks may also offer similar loans.

 

Important

I have tried to describe the costs which you will have to pay to study in Australia and also the possibilities known to me for receiving assistance with paying these costs. This information is intended as a help for you but I cannot guarantee that it is correct or up to date. I strongly advise you to check the information sources which I have provided, and where appropriate other information sources, to make sure that you are aware of the latest rules and regulations before you commit yourself to costs which you intend to incur for studying in Australia.