If you are thinking about studying in Australia, you are most likely asking where should I go? When people apply for a student visa, they immediately think of Sydney or Melbourne to study. However, there are many great reasons to study in regional Australia rather than major cities. It is important to consider the cost of living (accommodation price and everyday expenses). For example, on-campus student accommodation in Sydney can cost more than $250 extra a week compared to on-campus accommodation in Wollongong (regional area). As accommodation is the 2nd biggest expense for students after their fees, it is important to research the potential savings that can be made by choosing to study in regional Australia.
The Australian Government defines regional Australia as anywhere outside of the major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. A substantial portion of Australia is classified as regional. Many students have a preconception of regional Australia to be small rural villages and farms. However, it is full of life and includes vibrant cities such as Perth and Adelaide. Regional Australia is home to more than 9 million Australians and employs every 1 in 3 Australians. There are regional areas in every state including larger cities such as Perth in Western Australia and Adelaide in South Australia.
The Department of Home Affairs divided Australia into 3 main categories:
There are many benefits for international students who study in regional Australia including:
Studying in regional Australia can open up a lot of migration opportunities, which would be unavailable if you study in a major city. Regional area incentives include priority visa processing times and access to the Regional Occupational List. This allows regional students to benefit from more job opportunities compared to their non-regional counterparts.
Students studying in regional areas will receive priority during region-specific designated area migration agreements(DAMA) negotiations. International graduates with a bachelor or higher qualification from a regional campus of a registered institution will be eligible for an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa. If you are to apply for permanent residency after your studies, you will receive an extra 5 points on your skilled migration visa application points test if you live and study in a regional area.
Once your studies are complete, there are more opportunities for sponsorship and pathways to PR. As it is often easier to gain sponsorship and apply for PR from a regional area. While job growth and opportunities in the major cities are not increasing at the moment, regional Australia is booming with a 13% increase in job opportunities across a variety of industries. Some of the best careers for international students are located in regional Australia including dentistry, engineering and healthcare.
Australia can be an expensive place to study with the cost of rent in the major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne being exceptionally high. However, regional areas provide a more affordable cost of living including lower accommodation and food costs. While you are living in regional Australia, you will often benefit from cheaper public transport and less traffic. On-campus accommodation for students at the University of New South Wales (major city – Sydney) can cost $750 a week. Whereas accommodation at the University of Wollongong (major regional centre – NSW) can be less than $500 a week. Students can save over $350 a week on rent alone. A lower cost of living can decrease the financial pressure that you are facing during studying.
Most students need to subsidise their studies by taking up a part-time job. Competition can be very high in major cities whereas applying in a local suburb within regional areas can lead to a better chance of securing a part-time job. Students who study in regional universities will be eligible to access an additional year or 2 (depending on the location of the university) to work in Australia after graduation.
Temporary Graduate visa (TGV) holders who have graduated from a regional university and lived in regional Australia on their first Temporary Graduate visa are eligible for a second visa. The only condition is that they must remain in a regional area during the course of their visa.
International students that have studied in cities and major regional centres such as Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Canberra, Sunshine Coast and Hobart are considered Category 2. These students are eligible for an additional year visa. While international students that have studied in regional centres and other regional areas such as Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Ballarat and Townsville are eligible for 2 additional years on their visas. This provides a great opportunity for students to extend their stay in Australia and gain valuable work experience.
Studying in regional Australia opens the doors to certain types of courses that are only available in these locations. For example, the University of Tasmania’s Marine courses is one of a kind and is only available in Tasmania. A lot of regional universities offer a range of disciplines with many tailored to the local area. University campuses in Far North Queensland feature tropical studies while remote areas also have significantly fewer dentists than major cities. The shortage of regional dental workers has made dentistry a popular course option in regional Australia.
Many regional cities have similar facilities and entertainment that you would find in major cities such as restaurants, cinemas, bars and shopping centres. There is also the opportunity to integrate and be part of a community. Being part of a community can be a great support while studying abroad and provide job opportunities. By studying in regional Australia, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
If an outdoor lifestyle appeals to you, studying in a regional area would be fitting. As you can take advantage of local hikes, beaches and reconnect with nature.
Although famous major cities may be enticing to live in, the high cost of living can make it difficult to study and enjoy life. While living in the regional areas of Australia provides plenty of benefits including a lower cost of living, extra PR points and access to the regional occupational list. For more information contact a member of our team and we can discuss your options with you.
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