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A Guide To Student Exchange In Australia

Travel doesn’t have to just be a leisure activity. So, if Australia’s been on your bucket-list for a while, why not make it a more productive venture? 

Student exchange is one of the most authentic ways to mesh in and get to know the great big land of Oz. 

On student exchange you get to spend extended time in the country, tick off your degree, get to know the locals, and, courtesy of those long uni breaks, travel around…a lot! 

So let’s cover the nitty gritty details, so you can be on your way to your student exchange experience. 

Australia’s best student cities

Australia has eight capital cities, but to keep life simple, let’s run through the top three ultimate student cities. 

1. Sydney 

The land of aesthetic wow factor, with its picturesque coastline and iconic cityscapes (think the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House). 

In terms of student lifestyle, glitzy Sydney offers quality public transport, a bustling CBD, a central university district, trendy inner-city suburbs, glamorous (and more ramshackle) beach towns, cafes and restaurants galore, and a fast-paced social scene.

2. Melbourne 

The culture capital of Australia with its winding alleyways, funky venues, world class shopping, and thriving art scene. 

Melbourne offers the best public transport network in Australia, top-notch universities, amazing nightlife, and has been ranked #1 ’Most Liveable City in the World’ (if you want your student bucks to go the mile). Melbourne is also Australia’s #1 exchange student destination in Australia.  

3. Perth 

The city where Australia’s laid back beach culture is in full swing. Perth somehow meshes happening, big-city districts with relaxed, Aussie beach vibes. 

The city offers a myriad of bars and restaurants, breath-taking beaches, and a great selection of universities.

In recent years, Perth has become a hotspot for international travellers thanks to it’s undiscovered, off-the-beaten track allure.

Australia’s top 10 Universities

Australia offers a plethora of world-class institutions, but to note the best Australian universities in terms of their student popularity and QS World Rankings: 

        1. Australian National University -Canberra (QS Rank 20)
        2. University of Melbourne -Melbourne (QS Rank 41)
        3. University of New South Wales -Sydney (QS Rank 45)
        4. University of Queensland -Queensland (QS Rank 47)
        5. University of Sydney -Sydney (QS Rank 50)
        6. Monash University -Melbourne (QS Rank 60)
        7. University of Western Australia -Perth (QS Rank 93)
        8.  University of Adelaide -Adelaide (QS Rank 109) 
        9. University of Technology -Sydney (QS Rank 176)
        10. Curtin University -Perth (QS Rank 262)

Foreign exchange programs

Trying to find the “right” exchange program can be an overwhelming experience. A great way to avoid the marketing hype is to visit the Council On Standards For International Education Travel (CSIET). Here you can access a reputable list of exchange programs available in Australia. 

ISEP is another great site for finding exchange programs. Here you can find out what kinds of exchange programs are offered by which university.

You can also tailor search results depending on your exchange program needs, academic level, academic qualifications, costs, campus type, and program types.  

Another (more time intensive) option is to individually flick through Australia’s universities and see what student exchange options are available.

Student accommodation options

Now if you plan on studying in Australia, you’ll need a roof over your ahead. And this is where student accommodation comes into the decision process:

1. Host family

Staying with an Australian host family is popular for students on high school exchange, and less so for students on university exchange.

Living with a family doesn’t scream independent university student. But, on the positive side, it’s great for those wanting a home away from home. Plus, who can say no to a home cooked dinner?

2. University accommodation

Always a great option for those students obsessed with all things #unilife. Most university campuses offer student accommodation in some form or the other, plus it’s a great way to make sure you get a sleep in before class. After all, your university is right on your doorstep. 

3. Off-campus student accommodation

Purpose built student housing is a great option for international students wanting to experience student life, without the “you’re university is your home” aspect of on campus living.

Off-campus student housing is where university accommodation meets renting. Being independent while still meeting new people and getting the full exchange experience.

4. Renting

If you are all about independent living, renting is as on your own as it comes.

Though considering the costs of renting in Australia you’ll likely be sharing with flatmates.

Renting offers a lot more freedom to decide on the kind of area, people and place you want to live in, and you’re able to really nest in and make the place your own.

Australian ‘student visa’ requirements

Student exchange comes with plenty of fine-print and this is where the student visa (subclass 500) enters the picture.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has a student visa application process that you’ll need to complete to get your student visa stamp of approval:

  • Enrolment  
  • Genuine Temporary Entrant Statement 
  • Health Examinations
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
  • English Proficiency Scores 
  • Evidence of Financial Capacity 
  • Police Clearance

Each of these visa requirements comes with a range of supporting documentation to be attached to your visa application.  


The great, big, rugged (is)land of Oz has plenty on offer for your student exchange experience and this intro-guide should kick-start your foreign exchange planning.

So, time to get your student exchange in Australia out of the ideas basket and into the “it’s happening” zone. Good luck!