The Application Process

When you have decided on a course the next stage is to complete an application form for the appropriate university. Each university has a different set of application forms and these forms are also different depending on whether you are applying for admission to

  • Study Abroad,
  • an undergraduate course (bachelor pass degrees, bachelor degrees with honours), or
  • a postgraduate qualification (master by coursework, postgraduate/graduate diploma or graduate certificate)
Important

Handwriting style of Germans is in many respects different from that in the Anglo-Saxon world, and it is easy for German hand writing to be misunderstood (see Chapter 7) which can lead to disastrous errors, for example in the incorrect addressing of post or emails from the university to you.

Making an Early Application for an Offer

Although the universities accept applications up to about two or three months before the beginning of the semester in which you wish to start your course, I strongly urge you to initiate the application process as soon as you are reasonably certain about which course you want to study. There are several good reasons for this:

  • Once you have received an offer you gain peace of mind that the planning for your study in Australia will be worthwhile.
  • The earlier you receive a full offer the longer you have to choose when to pay the tuition fees (and thereby possibly gain from a favourably exchange rate, see chapter 2).
  • Your chance of receiving an offer for a place in a course which has a limited number of places is increased if you apply early.
  • If there is any doubt about the acceptance of some of your qualifications, the earlier you make an application the sooner you will know whether you have to fulfil further conditions (e.g. with respect to your English or with respect to bachelor equivalence).
  • It can be helpful to prove to your planned financier (e.g. DAAD) that you already have received an offer (even a conditional offer) from the university of your choice (see chapter 2 section 3.2.2).

How the University can React to your Application

Normally the university will react to the application within about four to six weeks. There are four possible reactions:

  • The application might be rejected.
  • The university may request further information.
  • A conditional offer might be issued. This indicates that your application has in principle been accepted, but you must fulfil further conditions before the offer is finalised. These conditions are usually concerned with proof of your English ability and/or evidence of completion of certain courses.
  • A final (unconditional) offer might be issued. This confirms that you have been accepted into the desired course without having to fulfil any further academic conditions.

After You Receive an Offer

When you receive an offer (whether conditional or final) this will usually be accompanied by an indication to the amount of fees which you will have to pay for your first semester (or in exceptional circumstances for a year). This also includes the amount of the Overseas Student Health Contribution (OSHC) which you should pay if you use the university's OSHC supplier (see chapter 2 section 2.4). This bill is normally payable at the latest about a month before you plan to start your Australian studies.

You must pay OSHC (even if you have a private insurance or Beihilfe which covers health costs in Australia) but you need not choose the supplier recommended by the university. However, the OSHC suppliers in Australia usually have very similar contribution charges.

Paying Your Fees

If you have received a conditional offer, then I strongly advise you not to pay the fees immediately. Wait until you have received a final (unconditional) offer, unless you see some advantage in an early payment, e.g. a better exchange rate!

When you have received a final offer you should ensure that you pay the fees not only before the final offer date expires but also in time for you to follow up the steps which are described in the next section.

You will probably have to provide your university with a copy of the main page of your passport. (Make sure that you reed the warning about your passport in section 8.1. of this chapter before doing this!)

You can of course freely choose to pay by any of the different methods which the university offers you, but I can assure you that the quickest, cheapest and most effective method of payment is by using the XETrade facilities (see chapter 2 section 1), provided that you have registered in advance and that you follow their instructions exactly.

The Confirmation of Enrolment

Soon after you have paid your fees you should receive an official Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This is usually sent by email and is then called an "eCoE". This confirms not only for you, but for the Australian government, that you have been accepted as a full time student in the course which you have chosen. It is an important document (see next section), so if you do not receive it within two weeks of paying your fees, please first check with your bank (or for example with XE) that you sent the correct amount to the appropriate university account.

Preparing for your Arrival in Australia

When you study in Australia you will not only need an offer from the university of your choice, but you will also have to obtain a student visa and arrange a flight to the city where you plan to study, all of which you will usually need to do while you are still in Germany. To help you with these issues the Australian Government has prepared a 100 page predeparture guide, which is officially intended for students from the U.S.A. but which contains much useful information for German students also. You can access this at:
http://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/
The information in that guide is of course fairly general and at least partly "government oriented". For example it includes information on issues such as working in Australia, Australian culture, visits from friends and relatives while in Australia, clearing customs, consular help and even migrating to Australia.

Most Australian universities have also prepared their own individual predeparture guides, which are more specifically oriented towards the particular needs of their own students. But unfortunately the first time that most international students hear about these is when the university sends them an official offer. Yet it is clear that most students can benefit much earlier in their planning from the information which these guides contain, so Iook on the university website for a appropriate guide.

Your Visa Application

A special licence is needed for third parties (including agents) to advise on Australian visas. Like most agents I do not have such a licence. For this reason I cannot officially provide you with advice, but only report to you what I have heard form students or read in the internet. You are strongly advised to check the Australian governments's official website:
http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Stud
and select the country for which you hold a passport, in order to obtain the correct information.

There are many kinds of visa which allow foreigners to enter Australia, see
http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1

Student Visas

Normally the kind of visa which you will need is a student visa. If you plan to apply for a different kind of visa I strongly suggest that you first contact the Australian Embassy in Berlin or send an email to the student help desk (see below).

You can obtain a student visa by applying over the internet, see http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/students.htm

You will need to have at least the following documents at hand when making the application:

  • your COE, which contains important information necessary for completing your application.
  • your passport. (See section 8.1, which contains an important warning.)
  • a credit card in order to pay the visa application charge. At the time of writing (July 2009) the cost of applying for a student visa is A$540. To find the latest information about visa costs, see http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/990i/students-visa-charges.htm (Some types of visa are much more expensive and require the applicant to take a form of medical insurance which is much more expensive than OSHC.)
  • information about previous visits to/study in Australia.

Students tell me that they have usually received a visa (provided that they can fulfil all the conditions) within a few days. This will usually be valid for up to one month after your study officially ends (see your COE). If your study period is indicated to be for 10 months or more, the visa will probably be valid for two months after your study officially ends. If in this case your study period ends in November or December your visa will probably be extended to 15th March of the following year.

Your visa will normally entitle you to work for up to 20 hours per week during the semester teaching periods and to undertake full-time work between semester teaching periods. If you already have already obtained any advanced standing, then your COE should reflect this.

If it does not you will need to organise that you receive an amended COE. If your COE indicates that you will be studying for more than a year (even if you later plan to obtain advanced standing and then stay for less than a year), you will be requested to send medical evidence to the Australian Embassy. However, if you can provide convincing evidence that you plan to stay for less than twelve months (e.g. return flight tickets) you may be able to avoid this, but remember that the decision is taken on an individual case by case basis by a government official, and lies entirely within his discretion. If in this case you plan to stay for less than a year in Australia, then you will to get a letter written from somebody confirming this. However I think this will probably only help if you also have other evidence (e.g. a return ticket), and even then it may not help. Try to check this as far ahead as possible, because you can only arrange a medical examination with one of the eight doctors authorised by the German Embassy. You can obtain advice from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship about student visas (including whether you need to take a medical examination), by asking them.

Finally, remember that visa regulations change frequently. You should therefore see the above details as helpful hints which can change any time! Check out the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website yourself for the most up to date information.

If You Urgently need a Visa

If your situation is very urgent (e.g. if your COE arrives very late) it is possible to obtain a tourist visa and then change this to a students visa soon after your arrival in Australia. But of course this will be a more expensive way, because you have to pay fees for two visas. Furthermore you should be careful that the date for your return flight is earlier than the expiry date of the tourist visa (usually three months); otherwise the airline may not allow you to fly to Australia! (For such cases it is sensible to ensure that you have a return ticket which can either at no cost or very cheaply) be changed to reflect the time at which you actually intend to return.

Other Things to Remember

There are a number of other things which you should keep in mind when planning your visit to Australia.

Passport

You will of course need a valid passport and I strongly advise you to obtain this early, because you cannot obtain a student visa without a passport (see section 5.3). You may also need to send a copy of the main page of your passport to the university when you pay your tuition fees.

If you already have a passport ensure that it will not expire around the time that you expect to obtain a visa. Your student visa will be tied to the number of the passport which you supply to the University when it supplies you with a COE (see section 5 of this chapter). If you then try to fly to Australia with a newer passport which has a different number, you will not be allowed to enter Australia! So make sure that you renew your passport early enough to avoid this problem. (If you nevertheless fall into this trap, you should contact the University, sending a copy of the main page of the new passport, and request that the university advise the Australian Department of Immigration of the new passport number – and confirm to you that this has been done!)

Enrolment in the Australian University and Orientation Week

When booking your flight, don't forget to take into account that you should be in Australia in time for enrolment (and the orientation week). You will find further information about this in the appendices describing the universities. Generally speaking this is about two weeks before the lectures begin. If you cannot arrive in time you should obtain permission in advance to arrive later.

It is very worthwhile to attend the orientation week, as there are many student clubs of all sorts (from chess to diving) which have stalls in this week where you can learn about the different activities available at your university.

Flight to Australia

Don't forget to book your flight! For information on flights between Germany and Australia see section 2.2 of Chapter 2 (Financing your Studies in Australia). Remember that it would cause serious problems if your return flight leaves before the end of the relevant examination period. You can check this by looking at the university calendar of the university you plan to attend.

And remember that if you have (or expect to receive) a COE which indicates that you will stay in Australia for more than 12 months, a return ticket may be helpful in persuading the Australian authorities to allow you to forgo a medical examination.

Arrival in Australia

Most – but not all – Australian universities arrange for students to be collected at the airport and brought free of charge to their initial accommodation. Don't forget to book early for this service.

Accommodation in Australia

There is more information about finding accommodation (temporary and permanent) in Australia in the next chapter.