New Beginnings Johanna Nonato

You might have a relative who plans to study here and they might ask you or you may also wonder if an international student can rely on his/her salary from working part-time to cover their expenses.

This article gives an overview of the costs of living in Australia as an international student and let the readers decide on whether a self-supporting international student can cover his/her living costs and tuition fee while studying here.

When an international student enrols with an education provider and applies for a student visa, they would have declared on their application form that they have access to funds that can cover their tuition fee, living cost and travel expenses in their first year of studying here.

The amount of financial capacity required is calculated based on the student’s tuition fee for his/her first year of study plus the annual living cost in Australia (set by the Department of Home Affairs at $20,290), plus the travel cost ($2,000 if the student is outside of Australia and $1,000 if the student is onshore).

However, some student visa applicants think that the financial requirement is only needed at the time that you apply for a student visa and that it is not necessary to have that amount while studying in Australia. 

Usually, they have high hopes that they will find a job once they are here (sometimes through incorrect advice). This becomes problematic when the student cannot find a job here and he/she does not have access to the required funds.

Example 1 – Vicky

This an example of expenses by an international student named Vicky living in Melbourne. Vicky does not have relatives here in Melbourne and therefore, she will have to pay for her accommodation, food, and transportation expenses along with her tuition fee.

Vicky is studying a packaged course of Certificate 3 and 4 in Commercial Cookery and Diploma of Hospitality and she is currently working as a kitchen hand part-time at a Kebab shop earning $19.50 per hour.  

Note that Vicky needs to make up $2,188 just to cover her yearly expenses in Australia. Either Vicky works more than 40 hours a week during school breaks (this is allowed as there is no work restriction during school breaks) or gets additional funds from her relatives to cover this amount.

Description (Vicky)Yearly cost
Rent @ $150/week  $   7,800.00 
Remaining tuition fee @ $650 per month  $   7,800.00 
Food and grocery expenses @150 per week  $   7,800.00 
Transportation expenses
(Myki card @$8 per day for 365 days)
 $   2,920.00 
Mobile phone with internet ($30 a month)  $      360.00
 TOTAL EXPENSES  $ 26,680.00 
Earnings from the Kebab shop when class is in session
($19.50 per hour working 20 hours a week for 40 weeks)
 $ 15,600.00 
Earnings from the Kebab shop during school breaks
($19.50 per hour working 38 hours a week for 12 weeks)
 $   8,892.00 
 TOTAL EARNINGS  $ 24,492.00 
STUDENT’S SAVINGS -$  2,188.00 

Example 2 – Steven

Here’s another example of Steven who is taking up Diploma of Mental Health and lives with his brother in the west. Steven’s accommodation and food expenses are covered by his brother. Steven works as a Personal Care Assistant at a nearby Aged Care facility and earns $21 per hour.  

Steven will save $14,096 every year if he carries on working and if his brother continues to provide him with free food and accommodation.

Note that in both examples, only the basic costs are considered. Costs of personal entertainment such as watching a movie, having a dinner out with friends or going on a holiday interstate are separate costs.

Description (Steven) Yearly cost
Remaining tuition fee @ $750 per month  $   9,000.00 
Travel expenses (Myki card @$8 per day for 365 days)  $   2,920.00 
Mobile phone with internet ($30 a month)  $      360.00 
TOTAL EXPENSES  $ 12,280.00 
Earnings from the Aged Care facility when class is in session
($21 per hour working 20 hours a week for 40 weeks)
 $ 16,800.00 
Earnings from the Aged Care facility during school breaks
($21 per hour working 38 hours a week for 12 weeks)
 $   9,576.00 
TOTAL EARNINGS  $ 26,376.00 
STUDENT’S SAVINGS  $ 14,096.00 

Higher Education courses – Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree are more expensive (approximately $35,000 a year if you study in a university) and students enrolled in these degrees would find it difficult to cover their expenses in Australia if their tuition fee is not shouldered by their parents or relatives.

International students may or may not be able to cover their living costs and tuition fee if their only source of funding is their part-time job in Australia.

It is recommended that they should have access to the required financial requirements set by the Department of Home Affairs.

Image: Joshua Rawson-Harris | Unsplash

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