If you’re coming to the end of your time in Australia but want to continue your studies, there are lots of options to choose from for further education – and you don’t even have to leave the country. Whether you opt for a short course, to study another degree, take on a Master’s, or complete a PhD, you can apply for an extension of your student visa from within Australia.

Studying in Australia as a postgraduate can improve your job prospects, build on your English skills, and offer the chance to add some new expertise to your resume. Of course, it will also allow you more time to travel and make new friends.

However, in order to remain in Australia legally, you will need to renew your visa each time you commence a new course of study. To ensure your visa stays current, make sure to submit your renewal application between four months and six weeks before it expires.

Find the right fit

Once you’ve decided which field of study you’re interested in pursuing further, you will need to research institutions and their offerings. Do you want to change universities or even try studying in a different city in Australia?

If you are starting in a completely new field, you might like to enrol in a short course to try it out. Or, if you’re sure you want to add a second field of expertise to your portfolio, you can pursue a second undergraduate degree. If you decide to take a short course, it needs to be with a CRICOS registered provider to comply with your visa conditions. You can check if the provider has a CRICOS number here

Most universities in Australia also provide the option of completing an Honours year. If you’re enrolled in a three-year Bachelor degree, generally you’ll need to add an extra year to undertake a research project and complete a thesis. If you’re enrolled in a four-year Bachelor degree, you’ll likely need to maintain a credit or distinction average.

A Master’s degree is another well-respected qualification that requires additional depth of study in a chosen field, and can usually be completely through coursework or research.

Some disciplines also have the possibility of continuing your studies with a PhD after graduating with Honours and a research Master’s, or a combination of degrees and relevant work experience.

Postgraduate programs vary significantly between institutions, and each course will have unique pros and cons for you to weigh up. Make sure to do your research and work out which institution best suits your future goals and current needs.

Documentation

Before you apply to renew your student visa, you’ll need to collect all the relevant documents. For most students, this will include a new Confirmation of Enrolment letter (CoE) from the educational institution where you will be completing your further studies, an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) policy that covers you until the expiry date of your new student visa, your passport, a statement to satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria, and evidence of financial resources to support yourself in Australia.

The Australian Government’s Document Checklist Tool is a great way to check what you’ll need to attach to your application.

Ask the experts

If you’re finding the visa renewal process confusing, organisations like Boomerang offer free advice to students and can help you choose a course that suits your needs, assist with health insurance requirements, or even work with you to find new accommodation. Boomerang has links with multiple educational institutions in South Australia and can assist you every step of the way.

Apply online

Once you’ve got everything ready for your application, you can submit it online to the Department of Home Affairs. You can submit the application yourself, or use a registered migration agent if you prefer. If you apply in Australia, you will usually be granted a bridging visa A (BVA), which will come into effect when your current student visa expires. This bridging visa allows you to remain in Australia until your new visa is processed.

The end result

The Department of Home Affairs will send you an acknowledgement letter along with your copy of the bridging visa via email soon after you apply. You’ll also need to check the Health Assessment tab in your ImmiAccount and your email address regularly to make sure no additional health checks or documentation will be required during the processing time.

If your visa is granted, the Department of Home Affairs will send you your new visa via email and you’ll be all set to start your next study adventure in Australia!