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Australia has a wide range of higher education institutions for prospective international students, offering educational courses across most subjects at a number of different levels to suit all applicants.

Some of the most popular courses in Australia are; Business and Management, Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Veterinary Science, Law & Criminal Justice, Environmental Science, Engineering & Education.

This article will guide you through the different types of educational institutions in Australia, as well as the steps that you will need to complete to apply to study in Australia as an international student. 

Applying to study in Australia - A guide to institution types


Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland


There are around 40 universities in Australia. Most are public, but there are some also private institutions. The most popular programmes offered by Australian universities are bachelor degrees or bachelor degrees with honours. The duration of a bachelor degree can be three or four years.

Australian universities also offer the following awards:

University courses usually begin in March and end in late November, though some mid-year courses are also available on selected courses. 

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) assures the quality of all awards offered by Australian universities. Institutions which self-accredit courses are not permitted to use the title of 'university'. Visit Australian Qualifications Framework, for more information.

Postgraduate courses

After obtaining a bachelor's degree, postgraduates can enrol on the following courses:

Institutes of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) and Vocational Education and Training (VET)


TAFE institutes offer vocational programmes for students. Vocational courses offer students practical experience and a more hands-on approach to learning. Australian vocational education and training institution courses are referred to as VET.

VET programmes of study can last between four and 36 months depending on the level of study you choose. VET courses are offered in a range of subjects and, depending on the course, students can sometimes be granted credits towards a degree programme. TAFE courses usually begin in February and end in December. Universities and private colleges may also offer vocational courses.

Browse TAFE courses on

Private colleges

There are a number of small private colleges that tend to offer diploma and certificate study programmes. They specialise in vocational areas like hospitality and tourism, business, journalism or design.

Foundation courses

If students do not meet the academic requirements of a university or TAFE institute, they can enrol on a foundation programme. Often referred to as bridging courses, foundation courses are one-year intensive study programmes offered by universities and VET institutes as well as high schools.

English language schools

The main types of English language courses include:

KEEP READING: How To Apply To Study In Australia

Applying to study in Australia - How to apply

Once you have chosen the level of study, course and institution that you would like to apply to (no small task), all that is left is to apply to the institution. Please note that in Australia you will not be able to apply for a student visa until you have a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) or an Electronic CoE.

Application forms

International students must apply to institutions in Australia directly or through an education agent. To apply to study in Australia, you must either obtain an application form or apply online directly through an institution's website. You can contact an institution to request one via phone or email, or visit their website to apply online. You may have to send this form either to a local agent of the institution in your country, or to the international office of the institution if you opt for a physical application form over an online one.


Infographic by View creative commons license.

Application Fees

What documents are needed?

You will be required to provide supporting documents with your application form. These are likely to include:

The institution will then advise you if your application has been successful and will send you a letter of offer. Once you have accepted, subject to any pre-assessment requirements, you will be issued with an Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE), which is the only accepted evidence of enrolment for the purpose of student visa applications.

Entry requirements

In order to be accepted into a study programme in Australia, you will need to have the necessary qualifications. These requirements may vary between institutions but usually you will need a minimum of:

To search for study programmes and their entry requirements, you can visit the Study in Australia website.


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English language requirements

You will also be required to prove your English language capability, both for a student visa and for acceptance to an institution.

When processing your visa application, the Australian Government will recognise:

For more information about tests accepted for visa applications, visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website. The level of English skill required for your visa application may be different to the level required by your institution for acceptance onto a course - you should contact your institution to find out their entry requirements.

Useful links

Study in Australia
The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET)
Universities Australia
To learn more about English language courses, visit English Australia