A Must-Read Guide for New Students in Australia
Apart from language and cultural barriers for students when they first arrive Australia, they also tend to have troubles when dealing with problems such as enrolments, accommodation, choosing majors in university and working in Australia. Some of the guidelines listed below may be handy tips for students who are about to start a new life in Australia.
Distribution of SemesteR
There are two main semesters for Australian Universities: they are composed of Autumn Semester and Spring Semester. The Autumn Semester starts at the end of February and ends in June whilst the Spring Semester starts in July and ends in early December.
The Summer Vacation follows straight after Spring Semester and usually lasts for up to three months. Some universities offer Summer School, where students are allowed to choose one subject designated by university during this period. The Winter Vacation follows straight after Autumn Semester and usually lasts for two weeks.
During semesters, the first nine weeks are study weeks followed by two weeks of Mid-Semester break and then study weeks till the thirteenth week. There is usually one week for revision known as Stu-Vac before the final examination period which lasts for about two weeks. Final examinations for all subjects will be scheduled during these two weeks. This is normally the Semester routine in Australian Universities, although with some variations between Universities.
Set up of Courses
1. Credit Point System
In Australian Universities, students can graduate once they complete the required credit points for their courses. For example, to graduate with a Master degree, 48 credit points are needed; students are therefore expected to complete 8 subjects with 6 credit points for each. Normally, 4 subjects worth 24 credit points are expected to be completed for each semester.
Universities vary in their restrictions on how many subjects students are allowed to choose for each semester, for example, some universities allow their students to graduate in half a year while the actual course takes one year to complete. Some other universities limit the number of subjects that can be studied for each semester.
It is usually considered that one subject will take up to 12 hours of study (including preparation, lecture, tutorial and revision) which means students are expected to study 48 hours each week for 4 subjects chosen. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection restricts international students so that their chosen subjects cannot be less than three for each semester.
2. Choosing the right subject
Generally speaking, Australian universities are flexible with students choice of subjects. However, there are some courses which require students to complete core subjects. There is detailed course information on university websites (including details such as teaching objectives, class times, instructor information and required readings, etc). When students start the first week of class, faculties usually hold an enrolment seminar which helps students find their best suitable majors and subjects. After students enroll, they are usually given some time to vary their enrolment details.
The first week of each semester is called the Orientation Week. This week involves several activities:
1. University Tour
When students first arrive, university authorities will organize a tour for new students, mainly to introduce the facilities and functions within the university. This will usually take up to 1 hour of time. All students need to do are to follow the crowd and pay attention to the tour guide.
Students will be informed of the registration time and date by their faculty when they first arrive at university. The registration procedures are as follows:
- Bring offer letter and COE to new students reception area and students will be given a worksheet with their names, SIDs and other details.
- Students from different faculties will then be allocated to different rooms and they will be given a welcoming speech by an university representative.
Enrolment Seminar will then be hold and each student will be given support by faculty assistants.
3. Online Enrolment
Enrolments can be done online, for example, students can choose their preferred subjects and alter class times. Other information such as examination results, examination timetables, and tuition fee payment details can also be found online. Each student is given a specific university email address which facilitates communication with their instructors. All sorts of study materials relating to specific subjects can also be downloaded from the internet.
Students will be given demonstration on how to use online enrolment services the first time they use this function. Assistants from faculties will take photograph of each student for use in making university students card before enrolment. If you are from a non-English background country, there is a possibility to which you will be asked whether you need to bring dictionary into examinations. Most universities allow students to bring printed dictionaries into examinations. However, electronic dictionaries are usually forbidden in examination areas.
Online enrolment requires students to enter several details, such as:
- Personal information (i.e. date of birth, contact details, etc)
- Choice of subjects and class times
After completing online enrolment, students can obtain their university student card. This card can also be used as library card at university libraries. Students can also obtain their overseas students health cover card for discounts in seeing doctors and getting prescriptions at medical centres or pharmacies. After these cards are on hand, the enrolment process comes to an end.
4. Welcome and Orientation Programs
Universities are responsible for holding varies sorts of welcoming events for new students, some are organized by university unions and some are organized by students own faculties. Students are more than welcomed to join these events and meet a lot of new friends.