So, I have received a lot of messages about immigrants and studying in Australia. We are going to address this question today. One of the questions I received which I think really needs to be talked about is: is education free in Australia for immigrants? We are going to answer this in a moment.
In the question I received, the reader asked me to write an article about if education is free for immigrants here, and if not, how much it might cost. She’s also interested in how one can work and manage these expenses. It’s a great question. I’ve noticed there aren’t many posts discussing this topic as an international student. Let’s talk about that.
Is Education Free in Australia for Immigrants?
The simple answer is no. But let’s get into more detail. Usually, if you are a student visa holder with school-aged dependent children, you have to pay international fees for their schooling. That’s the general rule. However, there are some exceptions based on the state you are in. In New South Wales, there are no exemptions for any type of international student. This means if you come to New South Wales to study as an immigrant and have school-aged children, you will need to pay for their education in public schools.
But in other states such as Queensland (where we have Brisbane), Western Australia (where we have Perth), Tasmania, and also the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), where we have Canberra, the rules can be different. In these three states and one territory, exemptions might be available, especially if you, as the student visa holder, are pursuing a research-based degree.
If you are coming to study a research-based postgraduate program, such as a Master’s by Research or a Doctoral program, then your school-aged dependent children might be exempt from paying enrollment fees in public schools.
Note that Western Australia (WA) has a slightly different policy. In WA, this exemption can also include students enrolled in a standard Master’s program, which means a Master’s by coursework. Of course, there’s a process to check if you are eligible for this fee waiver.
If Education Isn’t Free, How Much is the Cost for Immigrants?
I did some research and found that in New South Wales, the annual school fees per child are $6,600. This applies to people on a student visa subclass 500, studying at a TAFE institution, or in higher education, like Masters or Doctorate programs. This fee is for children from Kindergarten to Year 10. For Years 11 and 12, the fee is 7,600 dollars. Remember, each state has different fees, so you should check the specific costs for the state you are interested in.
How Can You Afford These Fees?
The recent changes in work-hour restrictions for student visa holders will really help you to afford the fees. Australia now allows you to work full-time. So, this can increase your income. Also, if you come to Australia with your spouse, they too can work full-time, regardless of the course you are studying. With this, you can manage the financial aspects of having school-aged dependent children while studying in Australia.
Before the recent announcement, if you were coming to study for a Bachelor’s degree, neither you nor your dependent, like your spouse or partner, could work full-time. Your partner was limited to working 20 hours a week or 40 hours a fortnight. But now, those restrictions are gone. This means no matter what course you are studying, both you and your partner can work full-time.
For people who have just arrived, money is often a big concern, especially for families. I’ll be honest, it can be tough. But the chance to earn more now could help. Also, if you have school-aged children, there is a kind of balance because while they are in school, you have some flexibility to work. This flexibility isn’t there for parents with younger children not in school yet. In that case, you have to think about daycare or one of you staying home to care for them while the other works. This is a common situation for many new arrivals on temporary visas.
When your kids are of school age and attending school, it gives you more flexibility. This leads to another point which has to do with coping with life.
What is it Like to Live in Australia?
Coping with life here mostly depends on your financial situation. Everything seems to boil down to money, doesn’t it? If you have enough funds, things might seem a bit easier. But I’m not assuming everyone comes with a lot of money.
You need to focus on your finances when planning. Do thorough research and planning before you even leave your home country. If you do not get things right from the start, and be clear about your goals, it can be really hard, and you might find everything more frustrating. So please, make sure to plan well to avoid such difficulties.
Just make sure you have a budget, a realistic one. Your planning and priorities, especially those concerning your family, all depend on the finances you have to support these goals. If you sort this out before leaving, many other things should become easier. Once you arrive and start adapting to the environment, you’ll likely find ways to save money or reduce costs.
Some people choose to arrive alone first, as the main student visa holder and have their family join later. This can help you to reduce financial pressure. I’m not saying this is the right or wrong approach for you, just presenting it as a strategy that some people use. By the time your family joins you, you might be near the end of your studies, so that could mean less financial strain.
Conclusion—Is Education Free in Australia for Immigrants?
We have been able to disclose that education isn’t particularly free for immigrants in Australia. If you want to study for free, you should be looking at scholarships or attend public schools where education is really cheaper.
In the end, think about what works best for your family. At the end of everything, I want you to also keep your focus on your long-term goals. The first few years will be a little tough. It is natural for everyone, for most people.
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