A Students Checklist - Studying in Australia

by CW Monday January 6th 2020

A Students Checklist - Studying in Australia-international-students-checklist-1

What to do Before you leave ...and when you First arrive

There are a couple of important issues you need to address as an international student before arriving in Australia. After you arrive, you need to sort out health cover, tax registration and bank accounts.

Before you leave

Medications & Vaccinations

Driver licence

If you hold a drivers license in your home country, you can apply for an international license before leaving. Otherwise, Visit your nearest roads authority office to obtain a driver licence if required.

What to do when you first arrive

Money Money Money!

Open a bank account

Most providers offer bank accounts to international students without monthly fees or charges, so it is advisable to open a bank account with an Australian Bank, like the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac or NAB.

You can open the account from your home country or once you're in Australia.

In either case, you will be required to visit your local branch and show your identification, as well as your student card.

Make sure you have some cash in Australian dollars for your arrival

Draw up a budget

You can draw up a budget the old fashioned way by writing it down on a notepad or use an Excel spreadsheet or better yet use a money management apps, for instance, ASIC's Budget planner.

Once you have drawn up your budget, you will need to work out how much income you have on an ongoing basis and how much is left over once the necessary expenses, like rent, transport costs and food are taken out.

With the leftover money, you can put it towards fun things like trips to the movies with your university friends.

How to Get your Money $hit Together is a fun but valuable piece of advice on how to budget & save while a student – particularly important if you are lousy at budgeting!

Student Health Insurance - Compulsory

Australia has a special health insurance coverage for international students studying in Australia.

OSHC - Overseas Student Health Cover is insurance designed to help cover the costs of medical and hospital care that you may need while in studying in Australia.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires that all individuals carrying a student visa and their dependents must maintain OSHC for the full duration of their time in Australia.

Because of these requirements, international students must purchase their Australian international student health insurance before departing their home country.

Students from Belgian, Sweden and Norway do not need to purchase OSHC since they are covered under their own country's schemes.

Taxation & Superannuation

if you're planning on working you will need to Register to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN)

TIP: If you open a bank account, you can also save you paying too much tax.

As an international student, if you work in Australia and are paid more $450 month, you may be entitled to superannuation. You employer is usually required by law to pay money into a superannuation (a mandatory retirement saving account) for you.

Purchase an Australian SIM Card

Getting around Sydney, connecting with your University, finding accommodation, staying in touch with your friends, will require a phone. Using a local Australian mobile number and SIM card will save you a lot of money.

This way you can make as many local calls as you need!

Buying a SIM card

If you have a phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card from the post office, supermarket or a phone retail store and top up online or buy more credit at a retail store for around $2-$5.

Aldi Mobile, Amaysim and Lebara Mobile tend to be the pick of the bunch among other students, but the big operators tend to offer student discounts.

I use Amaysim, which has no lock-in contracts and uses the Optus network. It costs $10 to $30 per 28 days, with international calls and text and wifi, internet coverage. Most people find the Telstra network better in country areas.

For a plan, you will need to go into a phone retail store to fill out the relevant forms or do this online and pass an identity check. You are required by Australian law to show your passport and provide a valid Australian address whether is temporary accommodation or a permanent address.

Purchase a Travel Card or a Public Transport Card

In cities don't take a taxi. There are plenty of opportunities to get around and spend less. All Australian cities public transport cards for buses and trains. You can use the opal card to travel from Sydney airport to Wollongong. If you are spending any time in Wollongong before you your stay or want to visit Sydney on weekends and uni holidays, it's essential to have the opal card. It costs nothing to sign up, and there is no expiry on the funds on the card. Its a tap on, tap off system and students can qualify for a concession card, even if you are an international student. Read more here about student discounted travel...

The great thing about Wollongong is its Free Shuttle Bus service

The Gong Shuttle Bus runs every 10 to 20 minutes. The service operates in both directions on a loop from Wollongong Station to Wollongong University via Wollongong Hospital, Burelli Street and the Innovation Campus.

The route numbers for the Shuttle are 55A and 55C - View Route 55A timetable & View Route 55C timetable

Hours of operation are:

Weekdays: 07:00 – 18:00 every 10 minutes, 18:00 – 22:00 every 20 minutes

Saturdays: 08:00 – 18:00 every 20 minutes

Sundays & Public Holidays: 09:40 – 17:20 Up to 20 minute frequency

Wollongong Shuttle Map


In Australia, many things are different than anywhere else.

Shopping hours are mostly like office hours in Wollongong except:

  • late night shopping on Thursdays until 9pm
  • weekend shopping Saturday 9am – 4pm and Sunday 10am – 4pm



A Students Checklist - Studying in Australia-international-students-checklist

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