So many students come from abroad to study within our shores. This article is for those looking to head in the other direction - Australian citizens considering the option of studying abroad. Of course, it is somewhat deceptive to call it an 'option', as there are just so many paths that can lead you overseas. Some of our universities, for instance, have campuses in other countries. Monash University has campuses in Sarawak, Prato and Johannesburg. Curtin University of Technology has campuses in Sarawak and Singapore. Other universities have numerous 'partner' institutes located across the globe. And there are still other options.
Enrolling locally, studying internationally
It is generally possible for you to spend, say, a semester at one of a local uni's OS campuses if you're an Australian student. When doing her Bachelor of Communication, for instance, a friend of mine elected to spend a semester at Monash University's Johannesburg campus. In turn, some of her South African classmates came here the following year.
It's important to keep in mind that the overseas campuses of our universities aren't always as large as their local counterparts. Monash University's Johannesburg campus is pretty small, for instance. They don't offer the same variety of units or courses.
Australian universities with campuses abroad include the University of Newcastle (Singapore), the University of Wollongong (United Arab Emirates), Monash University (Malaysia, South Africa and Italy), RMIT University (Vietnam), Swinburne University (Malaysia), James Cook University (Singapore), Curtin University of Technology (Malaysia and Singapore) and the University of Adelaide (Singapore).
In addition to the rather small number of universities that have campuses abroad, most universities have partnerships with overseas institutes. You're overseas, but you're not enrolled in an overseas institute as such. The overseas institute has little to do with you; you still deal with whatever university you're enrolled in back in Australia. Essentially, you're just swapping the facilities of an Australian university for the facilities of one of their international partners and undertaking overseas units that are the equivalents of something offered locally. In some instances, Australian universities actually offer their own units through their international partners.
Students considering this option will be pleased to hear that, as a general rule, the HECS-HELP scheme will cover your studies abroad. You're still an Australian student, after all. If you're considering this option, it would certainly be worthwhile checking whether this is true of your course and institute.
Keep in mind that you'll probably need to get some sort of student visa, however.
Enrolling at an overseas institute and completing the entirety of your studies there is yet another option. The exact requirements vary from institute to institute, country to country. You'll need to apply for some sort of student visa, which will probably involve a lot of arduous paperwork. To get into the United States as a student, for instance, you'll fill out a number of forms that are available through the embassy. Once you've applied for an actual course at a US institute and been accepted, someone at that institute will send out yet another form, known as an I-20, which you'll have to hang on to all the time when you're in the US, as it will provide a record of all your immigration information, including your authorisation to work.
More information on specific countries can be found online through sites like Study Overseas (www.studyoverseas.com), but use such sites as a general guide only. You're supposed to be intelligent and resourceful, right? Contact the relevant embassies and Google the relevant immigration departments. Visa requirements can change and non-official websites can take a while to reflect these changes.
Entry requirements, beyond visas and official forms like the I-20, vary from institute to institute and country to country. If you're heading somewhere where English isn't the language of instruction, you might have to sit a language test or enrol in some sort of language course. Of course, the visa requirements of some English speaking countries might require you to sit one of these tests even if you're a fluent English speaker.
Academically, you're obviously going to need your academic transcripts from secondary school and/or any undergraduate courses you've completed. There is the International Baccalaureate (www.ibo.org), a two-year program that universities around the world recognise. Keep in mind that the two-year diploma, which is the highest level of International Baccalaureate - the equivalent, we suppose, of HSC - is aimed at 16 to 19 year olds. If you've already left school and are past that age, you can forget about it. Local universities also recognise the International Baccalaureate, so if you've still got some time left before Year 11 and 12 you might consider undertaking the International Baccalaureate at one of the many schools located across the country. Some universities, particularly in Canada and the US, provide special scholarships for high-achieving International Baccalaureate students.