How much does university cost in Australia?

Australia is spoilt for choice with its university options, with Australian universities consistently making their way into the top rankings across the world. But unlike days gone, a university education has a price tag attached to it, and often a hefty one at that. But just how much are Australian university fees? Read on to find out the answer, as well as some other important information for your tertiary endeavour in Australia with this Canstar Blue guide.

How much does a university degree cost in Australia?

University fees in Australia have skyrocketed in the past 30 years, and now sit at an all-time high. Below are approximate costs of a number of degree types, although it should be noted that some courses such as veterinary science and medicine have a much higher cost on average.

  • Undergraduate Bachelor Degree – $20,000 to $45,000*
  • Postgraduate Master’s Degree – $22,000 to $50,000*
  • Doctoral Degree – $18,000 to $42,000*

*Prices taken from studyinaustralia.gov.au. Accurate as of July, 2021.

The cost of a degree can differ depending on the length of the course, the discipline in which you are studying, and of course which university you attend. A unit (or subject) can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, and different study areas and degrees can require a different number of units to be completed. For more information on fees, head to the website of the university you are interested in to learn more about course and degree costs to get a more accurate idea of what your specific course may cost you.

Cost of online university in Australia

Woman Studying Online

There is a common misconception that online universities are vastly cheaper than its in-person counterparts, however they are not as cheap as once believed. Online universities in Australia offer similar course and study experiences to more traditional brick and mortar universities, and still require similar upkeep to provide a worthwhile experience for students. As a result, online universities in Australia offer little difference in the final cost for a course and degree.

However, the convenience of studying online is the main point of difference for students, which may allow for potential savings in other areas, such as transport to and from classes, and other similar costs.

Costs for international students studying in Australia

International students pay the same fees as domestic student at most universities, however with one clear distinction: they’re required to pay their fees upfront. While domestic students have access to the HECS-HELP scheme, international students are generally required by universities to pay their units upfront before they can begin studying.

Do I have to pay for Australian university fees upfront?

Paying off university fees up-front may seem an unachievable feat for the majority of university students, given that many may not be working so as to focus on their studies. Fortunately, the Australian Government implemented the HECS-HELP scheme to help Australians pay off these fees at a reasonable pace once they begin working and earning above a certain amount. From July 1, 2021, the HELP loan limit is $108,232, with the limit for medicine, veterinary science, and dentistry students set at $155,448.

Once you reach an annual salary of $46,620, HECS-HELP loan repayments are made through the Australian taxation system, with small amounts automatically taken out of your salary by your employer to pay off these university fees. However, voluntary payments can be made at any time.

How can I pay university fees upfront?

Upfront payments differ depending on the institution you are studying at. For example, the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland both require a minimum $500 payment to be made before the census date, however these stipulations can differ from state to state and university to university. If you wish to pay your university fees upfront, it’s best to contact your university to discuss.

Is it cheaper to pay for university upfront?

Ultimately the amount you must pay for your university course will stay the same whether you pay upfront or use the HECS-HELP scheme, meaning whatever figure you agree to pay for your course is the figure you will end up paying. However, the HECS loan is impacted by the fluctuation of the Australian dollar, meaning if the Australian dollar rises or falls in value, so too will the amount you will have to pay back through HECS-HELP.

  • You can see how much HECS-HELP you owe via the ATO website.

Are there any subsidies available for university students?

Group of students walking

Centrelink (an Australia Government department that looks after income support and other payments) has a vast array of subsidies that can help with fees for university students in Australia, including:

  • Youth Allowance
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY

Youth Allowance for students and Australian apprentices

Youth Allowance for students and Australian apprentices is one of the most popular schemes handled by Centrelink, and allows 18 to 24-year-olds who are studying full-time to receive a weekly payment. While this scheme is popular, there are plenty of other options to cater to people of all backgrounds and abilities.

Austudy

Austudy is similar to the Youth Allowance, except it is only accessible to people over 25. You must be a full-time student in a select course, or completing an Australian Apprenticeship, and be able to pass the Personal Income Test.

ABSTUDY

ABSTUDY is a group of payments for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students. Candidates for this subsidy cannot receive any other form of payment, and have to be in a select field of study.

What other costs are associated with university in Australia?

Both international and domestic students have to take into account living costs (as well as having a bit of money to have some fun) when considering studying in Australia. For example:

  • Phone and internet – an essential service for the modern university student, phone and internet capabilities are crucial in connecting with tutors and classmates, as well as accessing the unit content. If you want to save on your phone bill, check out our guide on student phone plans.
  • Transport – whether it’s public transport or your own car, getting to class can get costly. Paying for fuel, parking, car services or simply topping up your state’s public transport card can end up being a big expense necessary for uni students. However, uni students are generally also eligible for discounts on public transport, which can come in handy if you’re going to class every day.
  • Groceries – depending on your living situation, groceries are an essential service that take a chunk out of your weekly budget. After all, you need brain food to help you study!
  • University amenities – every semester you will likely have to pay student amenity fees to help with the running and upkeep of the university. This includes non-university services such as sports, as well as classroom essentials such as furniture, stationery, and even tissues. Generally, amenity fees range from $100 to $300 per semester, but will vary from university to university. Known generally as Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF), some of these fees are able to be deferred similarly to HECS, although it’s best to ask your university.
  • On-campus living – student living is generally an expensive option compared to regular accommodation. It can cost anywhere from $450 to $700 per week on average, however the added convenience of no transport costs can be a big incentive for some people. Additionally, some universities offer ‘colleges’, which allows for a larger social aspect too.
  • Printing costs – although less common nowadays, some universities charge students for printing. While a minimal cost, it’s important to keep in mind if you’re on a tight budget and need to submit a physical copy of your assignment.
  • Sport and societies – sporting teams and societies are the lifeblood of university culture, though they often come at a price. For more information on pricing, be sure to check out your university’s sports and societies pages.

If you’re looking to save a few extra dollars while at uni, check out our guide on the apps you need for student life.

Are there any alternatives to university in Australia?

TAFE Sydney

TAFE is Australia’s leading alternative to traditional universities. Providing a more practical approach to learning, TAFE – which stands for Technical and Further Education – offers a range of qualifications including degrees, diplomas, and certificates. TAFE has grown a reputation for being a go-to institution for people looking to get into hairdressing, hospitality, trades, and other hands-on careers. Pricing can differ depending on the discipline and qualification you’re looking for, but TAFE can be an affordable option in tertiary education.

How much do certificates at TAFE cost?

Certificates are a popular option at TAFE, as they are relatively affordable and provide a linking qualification to advance your career path. The pricing varies for every discipline and each Certificate type – with Certificate I through IV available – but on average, a TAFE certificate can cost between $0 and upwards of $10,000 in total. However, some TAFE certificates can be subsidised by the government depending on the industry and certificate you study.

What is the best university in Australia?

If you’re interested in studying in Australia, which institution you study at will be an important decision. But with so many universities and higher education institutions to choose from, it can seem overwhelming. As a result, it’s best to look into all of your options, including online courses and degrees, to see what each individual university can offer in terms of course design and layout, amenities, opportunities, extra-curricular activities and related areas such as living arrangements to help you make a decision.

Each university will have information on its website, or have dedicated staff available to chat to if you have questions about courses, subjects and any other queries you may have, and as your lecturer will likely tell you on the first day of class, “there’s no stupid questions”, so get to asking! And if you need help narrowing down your options, check out our ratings on universities in Australia.

Photo Credits: Anel Alijagic/shutterstock.com, Rido/shutterstock.com, Monkey Business Images/shutterstock.com, ms.nen/shutterstock.com

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