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Studying Down Under

Australia has been an important education destination for Indian students even though student security issues did put pressure on student numbers last year

education Updated: Sep 15, 2010 09:38 IST

Samvit Yenamandra, a mechanical engineering student from RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, applied for a transfer to Deakin University in Australia, Geelong. And, he has never regretted his decision. “Deakin was recommended to me by my principal as he was trying to initiate a twinning programme between the two institutions,” he says, adding that studying abroad gives you exposure to the outside world and helps you acquire skills that make you compete in the real world. However, one needs to be cautious until one becomes familiar with a new country.

Besides US and UK, Australia has been an important education destination for Indian students even though student security issues did put pressure on student numbers last year. A recent report in The Age newspaper said that the number of Indians granted student visas in Australia during the last financial year has fallen to 29,721, less than half of the number in 2008-09.

Why Australia?
However, Australia remains one of the popular destinations for international students because the Australian education system is similar in structure to the Indian education system and provides a high standard of teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and a strong research focus. Australian qualifications and institutions are globally recognised (in India they are recognised by the Association of Indian Universities).

Courses popular among Indian students
There were 78,000 Indian student enrollments in Australia as at June 2010, which demonstrates the continuing popularity of Australia as a valued study destination. Of these, 19,000 were undertaking higher education studies (including 12,000 Masters by Coursework and 5,500 Bachelors and 550 Doctoral). The most preferred courses for Indian students are management and commerce, society and culture, information technology, engineering and related technologies.

The session
Most of the Australian institutions have two intakes in a year. The first is in February and the second is in July. Increasingly many institutions have started having multiple intakes. Most of this information one can get from the university handbooks. Whichever semester one wishes to join, one needs to start preparing for it minimum 5 - 6 months before. One should apply well in advance so that one has enough time to get a student visa. The student visa processing time is currently 12 weeks.

Tests, exams students need to clear
The main entrance exams that students need to clear to join up at Australian universities include:
GMAT: required at certain universities for entrance to their MBA degree. Details available at www.gmac.com
SAT/ GRE: not required for admission to Australian institutions for any course
UMAT/ ISAT: required for entry to MBBS degree. Details available at www.acer.edu.au
IELTS: IELTS is a mandatory requirement for a student visa for Australia. TOEFL is not accepted for getting a student visa. Please check the English proficiency requirements for the institutions separately. They might require a higher IELTS score as compared to the requirement for a student visa.

In case a student falls short of the required score, the students can still apply for a student visa provided they seek admission in an ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) course in Australia before undertaking the main academic course.

This course will help the student to reach the desired English language proficiency required for undertaking the main academic course. The test cost is R7200.

Scholarships/financial support
The Endeavour Awards is the Australian Government's internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship programme providing opportunities for citizens of the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions including India to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia.

It comprises Endeavour Study, Endeavour Research and Endeavour Professional awards. Students, scholars and professionals from around the world can use an award to undertake short or long term study, research or professional development in Australia.

The Executive Awards are for high achieving personnel working in professional fields (such as business, industry, research and development, education or government) in India or Australia to work in an associated fields (such as a business organisation, research centre, university or a government agency) in each others countries. The awards are for one to four months for the award recipient to develop or upgrade their professional skills and knowledge. The awards focus on building skills and knowledge through a host work environment rather than through formal enrolment in a study programme at a host institution.

The Endeavour Research Fellowships are aimed at high achieving scholars from India and to further develop knowledge and skills in the field of research. The Endeavour Postgraduate Awards provide financial support for high achieving international students to undertake a postgraduate qualification either by coursework or research in their chosen field of study in Australia for up to three years to undertake a postgraduate qualification at a Masters or PhD level either by coursework or research in any field of study in Australia.

The Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Awards are scholarships for the ‘best and brightest’ university students from Australia and Asia. They provide a unique opportunity for postgraduates and undergraduates to undertake not only international study and research, but also internships. The Australian Government has committed A$14.9 million over four years to establish this scholarship programme.

Jobs policy
International students coming to Australia are required to show that they have sufficient funds to meet their course, living and travel expenses for the duration of their stay as part of their visa application.

In addition, international student visa holders are granted permission to work up to 20 hours per week while their course is in session (excluding any work undertaken as a registered component of their course of study or training) and unrestricted hours during holiday periods.

Steps to your Australian visa

The requirements for an Australian student visa are relatively simple:

STEP 1
An Offer of Acceptance or a confirmation of enrolment- before a student can apply for a student visa, a valid letter of offer from a CRICOS registered Australian institute is required; visit www.cricos.dest.gov.au

STEP 2
For detailed information, please refer to www.immi.gov.au

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