Studying in Australia
Did you know Australia has the third-highest number of international students in the world behind only the United Kingdom and the United States, despite having a population of only 24.5 million? This isn’t surprising when you consider Australia has six of the top 100 universities in the world! In fact, with over 22,000 courses across 1,100 institutions, Australia sits above the likes of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.
These are strong academic credentials, but our institutions are just as highly rated as the cities that house them around the country. Australia has seven of the 30 best cities in the world for students based on student mix, affordability, quality of life, and employer activity; all important elements for students when choosing the best study destination. And with more than A$300 million provided by the Australian Government each year in international scholarships, it is becoming easier for you to come and experience the difference an Australian education can make to your future career opportunities.
Do you have a specific study area of interest? There is a high chance that Australia has you covered, with at least one Australian university in the top 50 worldwide across the study areas of Arts and Humanities, Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health, Engineering and Technology, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.
Not only is Australia recognised as a great place to live, but it also offers a world-class education. The Australian education system has produced scientists, designers, educators, entrepreneurs, artists and humanitarians who have changed the world.
Their global achievements include the “black box” - now on every aeroplane -, the Earth Hour initiative, and the invention of Wi-Fi. In fact, Australia has produced 15 Nobel prize laureates and every day over 1 billion people around the world rely on Australian discoveries and innovations, including penicillin, IVF, ultrasound, the Bionic Ear and the cervical cancer vaccine, to improve their lives and the lives of others. Australia is proud of the individuals who have studied and worked in Australia (whether they were born here or overseas) and gone on to achieve great things and make the world a better place.
Given this impressive education pedigree, it is not surprising that there are now more than 2.5 million former international students who have gone on to make a difference after studying in Australia. Some of these students are among the world’s finest minds.
By studying in Australia, you will receive a qualification that’s recognised and sought after around the world. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) allows students to easily move through the education system here and provides an easy way for countries around the world to recognise your qualification and issue the comparable qualifications for local use.
For over 20 years Australia has led the world in putting in place systems and processes to ensure that international students receive the high-quality education they expect. These measures include:
• The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000, which sets out the legal framework governing the delivery of education to overseas students studying in Australia on a student visa.
• The Tuition Protection Service, which helps you find an alternative course or refund your unspent tuition fees in the rare case that your institution (education provider) can’t continue to offer your course.
• The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training sector. ASQA regulates courses and training providers to ensure nationally approved quality standards are met.
• The Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate complaints about problems that international students have with their institutions. You can find out more about this support at https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/How-we-can-help/overseas-students
International Students rate Australia highly
In 2018, the Australian Government, in collaboration with peak education bodies and state/territory government education departments, conducted a survey of current international students to obtain information about their living and learning experience in Australia. The key findings of the survey included:
• 89% of international student respondents are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their overall experience in Australia.
• 89% of international student respondents are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their study experience in Australia.
• 90% of international student respondents are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with living in Australia.
Your learning environment
By choosing to study in Australia, you will join hundreds of thousands of students from Australia and all over the world, including many from your home country who are discovering new friends and opportunities in this beautiful country. You will work closely with classmates, instructors, and other faculty; collaboration is a key part of our students’ successes. And in many cases, you can gain practical and hands-on training in the industry in which you are studying. This combination of teamwork, shared learning, and industry focus will provide you with a leading-edge for your further studies and career.
Australia: A research-intensive country
Australia has a long and proud tradition of world-class research and development that has benefited millions around the world. From the discovery of penicillin in 1945 and of acquired immunological tolerance in 1960, through to observations which led to the discovery of the Accelerating Universe in 2011. Australia has a proud record of contributing to the benefits of the world:
• Through Backing Australia’s Ability initiative, A$2.9 billion will be invested over the next five years to fund research that will stimulate economic and scientific innovation.
• Australia is investing over A$140 million over the next five years to establish Federation Fellowships. The fellowships aim to recruit world-class researchers to Australia, with up to five of the fellowships each year awarded to high-profile non-Australian researchers from overseas.
• There are 35 special Research Centres and Key Centres of Teaching and Research based at Australian universities undertaking high-level research and providing a diverse range of undergraduate, postgraduate and specialised professional education courses in a variety of fields.
• Australia has established an additional 63 Cooperative Research Centres, which foster joint research between universities and private industry.
Life in Australia
While shared to some extent by many other countries, values and principles have been adapted to Australia’s unique setting, shaped and modernised through the settlement in Australia of millions of people from all over the world. Although they may be expressed differently by different people, their meaning remains the same. Australia’s first inhabitants were the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, whose unique culture and traditions are amongst the oldest in the world.
The first migrants were mostly from Britain and Ireland and this Anglo–Celtic heritage has been a significant and continuing influence on Australia’s history, culture and political traditions. Subsequent immigration waves have brought people from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, all of whom have made their own unique contributions to Australia and its way of life.
In Australia, people have many freedoms. However, in taking advantage of these freedoms, everyone is required to obey Australia’s laws, which have been put in place by democratically elected governments to maintain an orderly, free and safe society.
All Australians are entitled to a number of fundamental freedoms (within the bounds of the law), including speaking freely and openly, joining associations, holding meetings, worshipping their chosen religions and moving throughout Australia without restrictions.
Respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of individuals
All Australians are free and equal and are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect. Australians reject the use of violence, intimidation or humiliation as ways of settling conflicts in our society.
Commonwealth laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability and age in a range of areas of public life under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Age Discrimination Act 2004. The Australian Human Rights Commission is responsible for handling complaints under these laws.
Freedom of speech
All Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what they think about Australian governments or about any other subject or social issue as long as they do not endanger people, make false allegations or obstruct the free speech of others.
The same applies to Australian newspapers, radio, television and other forms of media. Australians are free to protest the actions of government and to campaign to change laws. Freedom of speech allows people to express themselves and to discuss ideas. There are laws that protect an individual’s good name against false information or lies. There are also laws against inciting hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background.
Freedom of religion and secular government
All Australians are free to follow any religion they choose, so long as its practices do not break any Australian law. Australians are also free to not follow a religion. Religious intolerance is not acceptable in Australian society. Australia has a secular government – it does not have any official or state religion. Governments treat all citizens as equal regardless of religion.
Religious laws have no legal status in Australia and only those laws enacted by parliament apply, for example, in divorce matters. Some religious or cultural practices, such as bigamy (being married to more than one person at the same time), are against the law in Australia.
Support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law
Australia is a parliamentary democracy, which means that Australian citizens participate in how the country is governed and how Australian society is represented. Governments are accountable to all Australians. Elected parliaments are the only bodies able to make laws in Australia or delegate the authority to make laws. Everyone in Australia must obey laws established by governments. Equally, all Australians are protected by the rule of law. This means that no–one is exempt from or ‘above the law’, even people who hold positions of power, like politicians or the police.
Equality under the law
All Australians are equal under the law. This means that nobody should be treated differently from anybody else because of their race, ethnicity or country of origin; because of their age, gender, marital status or disability; or because of their political or religious beliefs. Government agencies and independent courts must treat everyone fairly. Being treated equally means that getting a job or being promoted must be on the basis of a person’s skills, ability and experience, not their cultural background or political beliefs. It also means that people cannot be refused service in a shop or hotel or other service facilities because of their race, religion, gender or marital status.
Equality of men and women
Men and women have equal rights in Australia. Jobs and professions are open equally to both women and men. Men and women can serve in the military and both can also hold positions in government.
Equality of opportunity and spirit of egalitarianism
Australians value equality of opportunity and what is often called a ‘fair go’. This means that what someone achieves in life should be a product of their talents, work and effort rather than their birth or favouritism.
Australians have a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance and fair play. This does not mean that everyone is the same or that everybody has equal wealth or property. The aim is to ensure there are no formal class distinctions in Australian society.
Australians are proud of their peaceful society. They believe that change should occur by discussion, peaceful persuasion and the democratic process. They reject violence as a way of changing people's minds or the law. In addition to these values, Australians also pursue public-good and have compassion for those in need. There is a strong community spirit in Australia and Australians seek to enhance and improve the society in which they live. Many Australians contribute to the community in their daily lives. They may demonstrate this through caring for the environment, lending a hand and working together in times of need in pursuit of the public good. Australia has a strong tradition of ‘mateship’, where people provide help to others voluntarily, especially those in difficulty. A mate is often a friend but can also be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter or son. A mate can also be a total stranger. There is also a strong tradition of community service and volunteering.
The values outlined above have been promoted and discussed by Australians over many years. They have helped Australia to welcome and integrate successfully millions of people from many ethnic groups and cultural traditions. Australia’s cultural diversity is a strength which makes for a dynamic society. Within the framework of Australia’s laws, all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs. But at the same time, all Australians are asked to make an overriding commitment to Australia – its laws, its values and its people.
Although Australia’s migrants have come from many different cultural and religious backgrounds, they have successfully settled in Australia and integrated into the broader community. Australia, in turn, has been enriched by the contributions they have made socially, culturally and economically. An important feature of Australian society today is not only the cultural diversity of its people but the extent to which they are united by an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia.
Australians put aside their individual differences in the interest of living together as neighbours. Within the framework of Australia’s laws, all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs and to participate freely in Australia’s national life. At the same time, everyone is expected to uphold the principles and shared values, as outlined in the introduction, that support Australia’s way of life.
Australian society today
One of the defining features of Australian society today is the cultural diversity of its people and the extent to which they are united by an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia. Another defining feature is the egalitarian nature of Australian society. This does not mean that everyone is the same or that everybody has equal wealth or property. It also means that with hard work and commitment, people without high–level connections or influential patrons can succeed.
Within the framework of Australia’s laws, all Australians are able to express their culture and beliefs and to participate freely in Australia’s national life. Australia holds firmly to the belief that no–one should be disadvantaged on the basis of their country of birth, cultural heritage, language, gender or religious belief. In order to maintain a stable, peaceful and prosperous community, Australians of all backgrounds are expected to uphold the shared principles and values that underpin Australian society.
Community behaviour in Australia is governed by a combination of formal laws and informal social customs. All people in Australia must obey the nation’s laws or face the possibility of criminal and civil prosecution. People are also expected to generally observe Australian social customs, habits and practices even though they are not normally legally binding. Australian laws are made by the Australian Commonwealth, state and territory parliaments. The police have the job of keeping peace and order in the community and to bring people they believe have broken the law before courts of law.
People in their local communities and neighbourhoods also help each other in the event of trouble and report anything unusual or suspicious to the local police station. Australia has a national police force called the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which investigates crimes against federal laws including drug trafficking, illegal immigration, crimes against national security and crimes against the environment.
All states of Australia and the Northern Territory have their own police forces, which deal with crimes under state or territory laws. Policing in the Australian Capital Territory is undertaken by the AFP. Although police officers may arrest people and give evidence in court, they do not make the final decision on whether or not people are guilty of crimes. This is decided by the courts. Police and the community have good relations in Australia. You can report crimes and seek assistance from the police. If you are questioned by police, remain calm, be polite and cooperative.