IES University Prep

Applying to Australian universities


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Applying to Australian universities

Australia is a popular study destination for international students, particularly those living or studying in Asia as the practicalities of timezone and travel often make it more attractive than the UK, USA, Canada or Europe. The major cities in Australia offer a vibrant mixture of culture, exceptional food, beaches, and outdoor life. Australian universities work hard to attract good international students – the entrance requirements are flexible so wherever you are studying, it is likely that the top Australian universities will have a suitable route for you.

Australian degrees are recognised worldwide, and there is a great deal of choice in the subjects offered, and the option to combine more than one subject. Depending on the year and which ranking organisation is used, top ranked Australian universities occupy between 6 and 10 places in the world top universities, around the same number as Canada and only beaten by the USA and UK. The top ranked Australian universities include:

  • Australian National University (ANU)
  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • New South Wales (NSW)
  • Queensland
  • Monash
  • University of Western Australia (UWA)
  • Adelaide

Australia is an enormous country and so location needs to be carefully considered. Given the size of the country, there are dramatic differences in climate between cities, as well as cultural differences. Websites such as movehub are useful in comparing locations. Perth is often regarded as having the best climate, whereas Melbourne offers great art and culture opportunities; Sydney is a world-class city that ranks alongside London, New York, Toronto, Singapore for global outlook, work opportunities and facilities.


Undergraduate courses

Bachelor degrees in Australia are normally 3 years in length, with the option of a 4th year to convert it into an Honours degree (which means looking at the major subject in more detail). It is often possible to study a double degree (for example, Bachelor of Commerce and Economics), or to add breadth subjects alongside the single degree major. Given the enormous range of choices, the earlier you start your research into universities and courses, the more likely you are to find the degree that suits you best. Unlike the USA and UK, where there is a single entry point (normally September/October) for each academic year, most top Australian universities have an intake in Semester 1 (February) and Semester 2 (July). For students following an international system such as A level or the IB Diploma, the Semester 1 intake is the most suitable to aim for.

If you are applying to universities in the UK or USA you are most likely to use a centralised admission system – UCAS in the UK, or the Common App/University of California application. For Australian universities there are some more localised centralised systems such as UAC for universities in New South Wales but most international students will apply directly to their chosen universities. This can be both an advantage for students as you can tailor your application to each university; but also can be very time-consuming as it involves multiple applications with different requirements and deadlines. Again, the earlier you start to prepare and research the more likely you are to get an offer.

Deadlines vary from university to university (and sometimes, within a university, course to course!). The latest application date for Semester 1 courses will be September to November, or later. For Semester 2 courses it will probably be May to June. However, there may be different rounds to an application, with much earlier deadlines (June for a Semester 1 application) and the earlier you apply the better chance you have. Have a look at the ANU system here to give you an idea.

Each degree major will have its own academic entry requirements, and unlike the UK or USA where the academic entry requirements are the bottom rung of the ladder, and they will look at other factors, such as your suitability for the course or college, the top Australian universities will base offers almost entirely on academic achievement.  Depending on the course and university, they may publish Guaranteed entry requirements – an IB score, for example, that guarantees you an offer; or Indicative entry requirements which give an indication of the minimum level of achievement in order to be considered – so the higher above the Indicative score you are, the better your chances.



When you apply, the university will want to see school transcripts and/or examination results. If you are applying before you receive A level or IB Diploma results your school needs to provide predicted results. They may also require some/all of the following:

  • English Language test, such as IELTS
  • Resumé/CV
  • Recommendation or reference letters from the school
  • References from any work experience or internships

It is rare that the universities ask for a Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose (SOP) although it is required for some courses. However, when applying for a student visa you may be asked to provide a SOP as part of the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Requirement. In the Statement of Purpose you will explain why you have chosen to study in Australia, your choice of university and course, why your previous education and (if any) work experience is relevant to your application, family background and future plans.

Once you have applied, you can expect to get a decision around 4-6 weeks later.

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