Studying in Australia during the Covid-19 Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Australia’s education system, but as restrictions begin to ease, the question on everyone’s lips is: when can international students return?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball here at True Blue Migration Services, but what we do know is the importance of international students to both the Australian economy and the multicultural fabric of Australia’s society.

Around 400,000 Australian students enrol at Australian universities every year. The majority of these study in New South Wales and Victoria.

Student visas and Covid-19

For now, international students cannot enter Australia due to border closures. There’s no indication of when they’ll be reopened, but it’s highly likely that international students will be high on the list of people allowed in first.

Of course, not all overseas students come to Australia on student visas to start with; lots of people who are already in Australia on other temporary visas decide they’d like to study and then move to student visas.

A student visa could be an option if you’ve been laid off work by your employer and want to take some time to upskill whilst everything calms down. Not only will you be more employable on the other side of the crisis, but a student visa entitles you to work part-time during term times and full-time in the holidays. When you’re on a student visa, you’re not tied to working for any single employer like you would be with an employer-sponsored visa; it’s perfectly fine to have two jobs and work one day per week for each of your employers (totalling no more than 40 hours per fortnight in term time).

Student visas can also lead to other visas, such as the graduate visa (subclass 485). The 485 visa has two streams: the post-study work stream for those who have graduated with a degree from an Australian institution and the graduate work stream for people graduating in an occupation on the MLTSSL list.

Course packaging

Multiple courses can be packaged into one visa application. For example, you could study a Cert III, Cert IV and then a diploma, but only pay one government application fee. The maximum length of time you can package courses for is five years; however, there is a downside to this. If you then apply for another visa, such as a partner visa, you’ll have to remain on your student visa during processing, which might be a long time.


There are many different types of providers: private, public, university, TAFEs and private colleges. Some providers earmark just a small percentage of places for international students and others offer courses solely for international students.

Generally, you’ll need to meet the following criteria for a student visa:

  • Your course must be in CRICOS
  • You must be enrolled in a full-time course
  • You must have sufficient money to support yourself living in Australia
  • You must take out private health insurance OHSC
  • You must be a genuine student and aim to return back to home country after you study
  • You must meet the English language requirements for the course you are enrol in they vary course to course

Including dependents on a student visa

Dependents can be included on student visas.

Generally, the following people can live in Australia with you whilst you’re studying.

  • Your partner – spouse or de facto partner of 12 months or longer
  • Your dependent children

All family members must be declared on the application whether they are migrating or not. Your partner and children can be included at the time of applying or later as a subsequent entrant.

Your partner cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight, unless you are studying a masters or doctorate degree, in which case both you and your partner have unrestricted work rights.

Are student fees paid upfront?

This depends on your course provider. Some providers expect payment per semester, whilst others offer monthly payment plans. Either way, most providers allow you to start the course without paying the entire fee up front.

Choosing the right course

One thing is for sure: not all courses are made equal. If you’re upskilling, it’s really important to do your homework (sorry, bad pun) and find the right course for you, especially if you’re planning to continue studying beyond this initial course and build towards a higher qualification. You need to get a proper handle on the differences between a cert III, cert IV and diploma, and figure out which qualification is best suited to you and which will boost your employability the most.

If you’d like to speak to a Registered Migration Agent regarding your student visa eligibility, contact True Blue Migration for a free visa eligibility check.

Get in touch now to find out how we can help you contact us