What do courses cost for international students in Australia?
Knowing ‘what tuition costs’, or at least understanding a ballpark figure, will allow you to better shape your study choices in Australia.
Before we jump into the costs of courses, it’s important to understand the three main categories of education courses options in Australia:
Higher Ed vs VET
The key difference between Higher Education and VET is academic vs. practical studies (although this is not always clear cut). VET allows students to become familiar with the practical side of learning in an affordable way (with a focus on becoming “job ready”). It’s for this reason that many VET courses also include a work placement. E.g. a Certificate in Fitness will involve sessions at a fitness centre. Vocational courses in Australia range in price, from $5,000 to $30,000 AUD depending on the institute and program.
Some VET programs have less of an emphasis on specific skills, and are broad based, providing knowledge that can be used in almost any industry. A Diploma of Business, or Leadership & Management are good examples here.
Types of courses
Types of courses available in each sector (note that there is some overlap here).
Types of ELICOS courses:
- General English
- General Intensive English
- Cambridge Foundation FCE
- Cambridge Exam Preparation CAE
- IELTS Academic Preparation EAP
Types of vocational courses:
- Certificate I, II, III and IV in VET (Vocational and Education Training)
- Advanced Diploma; Associate Degree
- (Bachelor Degree)
Types of Higher Education courses:
- Advanced Diploma; Associate Degree
- Bachelor Degree
- Bachelor Honours Degree; Graduate Certificate; Graduate Diploma
- Masters Degree
- Doctoral Degree
If you are stumbling your way through this article, chances are, you may need ELICOS (or English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students). These are usually intensive courses designed to bring your English to up to an acceptable standard (IELTS 5.5 is an entry requirement for most VET courses). The IELTS score is The International English Language Testing System, which is a standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.
If English is not your first language (and your understanding of it is zero to intermediate), you have an IELTS is lower than 5.5, you may need to complete an intensive English course prior to commencing your VET studies. ELICOS courses range from $250 to $300 AUD per week and will run for 12 to 25 weeks.
How much is a degree for international students in Australia?
A Bachelors Degree for international students is considerably more expensive than a VET course. In the major cities a degree can cost $20,000 to $45,000 per year (you won’t get much change from $100K AUD).
Below are the average prices per year / per week charged by each sector.
Indicative course costs per year (ELICOS example is 12 weeks only).
- Min $ in AUD
- Max $ in AUD
Typical course lengths in months by sector.
|~ Price $AUD||Per||Course Duration||
|Certificate IV in Business||$725||month||x 8||$5,800|
|Certificate IV in Marketing and Communications||$725||month||x 8||$5,800|
|Diploma of Business||$6,000||year||x 1||$6,000|
|Advanced Diploma of Business||$5,171||year||x 1||$5,171|
|Bachelor of Business||$36,288||year||x 3||$108,864|
(Total tuition costs are indicative totals only)
Which Course Type Should You Choose?
In the past earning a degree has been the most common pathway to a better career, but increasingly VET programs (Certificates through to Diploma) are a preferred option with international students due to their affordability, and a focus on practical skills and job readiness.
Another aspect to consider here is that there may also be a language barrier to overcome to gain the most value out of your education investment. In Higher Education students are expected to understand and participate in learning with Advanced English skills, whereas in VET students can work at improving and gaining confidence in written and spoken English through their coursework.
Most of the students we consult with come to Australia to build their education (and savings) in the VET sector first. Why? Some students are here to do something different and have some fun abroad while they earn a qualification. Others commence their studies on a vocational program, only so they may work and save for a Bachelor or Masters Degree. Check our guide to working hours by student visa type over here.
What are the advantages to earning a Bachelor or Masters degree?
On completion of a Bachelor or Masters degree, students are eligible to apply for a Post Study Work Stream Visa (subclass 485) which is an additional visa (2 – 4 years) depending on your qualification. See: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/