As an international student navigating your education in the era of COVID-19, you’re likely facing a great deal of change and uncertainty. Due to border closures, many international students have been unable to arrive in Australia as scheduled – and you may be one of them.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might be asking yourself what your study options are until you eventually come to Australia. A great option to consider is online study. Since several institutions have shifted many courses to the online sphere, you’ll have plenty of pathways to explore.
That said, you may be wondering what courses you can take online, what the requirements to study in Australia online are, and how this shift to online study will affect your post-study work rights in Australia. This guide outlines all this information so you can choose the best courses to study online and start your international education experience on the right foot.
What courses can you study online?
When it comes to studying online in Australia, you’re spoiled for choice; thousands of students study online, and many educational institutions specialise in distance education, teaching more students online than on-campus. The vast majority of Australian universities and TAFEs offer at least some online courses, which means that you have plenty of options.
Holmesglen in Melbourne, for instance, provides a wide range of online courses in several fields of study, including English, business, and hospitality. While English courses can be taken completely online, the degree programs are offered on an offshore to onshore pathway, where students complete their studies on campus once borders reopen. These courses include Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Business (Accounting), Bachelor of Information Systems, Bachelor of Hospitality Management.
Do you need a student visa to study online?
The answer to this question depends on what course you pick. For example, if you’re planning to pursue a 100% online program, you do not need a student visa since this type of course can be completed from anywhere in the world.
However, if you’re hoping to pursue a program that is typically delivered through classroom learning, such as the degree programs offered at Holmesglen, and/or practical labs (i.e. medical programs), you’ll need to apply for a student visa so that you can come to Australia once borders reopen.
If you’re confused about which student visa to apply for, you’ll need a Subclass 500 student visa. This visa allows you to study in Australia full-time at a recognised educational institution. To be eligible for this visa, you need to be enrolled or have a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) in a full-time course at an Australian institution in which at least two-thirds of the units involve face-to-face classes.
A media release issued in July 2020 announced that the Australian Government would recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means that, once borders reopen, you’ll already have your visa and be able to make travel arrangements.
Are the entry requirements the same as on-campus study?
In most cases, international student entry requirements to study in Australia are the same or very similar for both online and on-campus education. These requirements typically include academic requirements (i.e. a certain minimum GPA or another entry score) and/or proof of English language proficiency. The best way to make sure there are no major differences in the entry requirements for online study is to check your chosen institution’s website.
How will studying online affect your post-study work rights in Australia?
After finishing their studies, many students apply for a post-study work visa, also known as the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), which allows you to live and work in Australia for an additional two to five years upon completion of your course.
Typically, only students who have completed their studies within Australia are eligible to apply for this visa. However, since COVID-19 has prevented many students from arriving in Australia and attending their courses in person, the government has adjusted the visa policy for international students.
Visa holders studying online outside Australia due to the virus will still be able to count that study time as part of the requirement for a post-study work visa. Similarly, graduates who hold a student visa will still be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa from outside of Australia if they are unable to return due to the pandemic.
Clearly, there are lots of options available for you to study online in Australia. Once you’ve decided which online course to take, be sure to familiarise yourself with ways to overcome common challenges associated with online study and how to stay connected while studying online. You can also hear from other international students on how they’re immersing themselves in student life from overseas.
Best of luck with your online studies and we look forward to welcoming you to Australia soon!