Australia or New Zealand, Costs and Permanent Residency options after study

Australia and New Zealand are two popular destinations for international students. Both are English-speaking, safe and beautiful countries to live in and further  your studies and careers. As most international students would like to stay to work after study we have compared both countries visa options after you finish your studies and how they may lead to permanent residency in Australia or New Zealand.


Tuition fees and course costs for international students

The costs of studying in Australia depend on the institution and the level of study you choose.

As an international student, your tuition fees are payable before you study. You should use the Course Search on this website to find courses and see details such as their tuition fees. There may be additional costs for your course, including course materials and access to institution facilities.

The list below gives you an indication of the range of annual course costs for different types of qualifications.

  • School – $8,000 to $30,000
  • English language studies – Around $300 per week depending on course length
  • Vocational Education and Training (Certificates I to IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma) – $5,000 to $30,000
  • Undergraduate Bachelor Degree – $20,000 to $45,000*
  • Postgraduate Masters Degree – $15,000 to $60,000*

* Note: This does not include high value courses such as veterinary and medical. Please visit institution websites directly to see costs for these courses.

All costs are per year in Australian dollars. To convert to your own currency, visit

Cost of living in Australia

The Australian Department of Immigration requires student to show they have access to at least AU$24,505 for living costs per year. If you’re bringing a partner you’ll need to show AU$7,100 more, and if you have children, you’ll need to show you have access to an additional AU$3,040 for each child.

As well as proof of these funds, you will also need to show you have a return air fare for yourself and every family member you take with you, as well as enough money to cover the school fees of any children you have between age five and 18.

Although the above outlines the amount required by Australia’s immigration standards, you may not need to spend that much once you arrive. The official Study in Australia gives the following figures as approximate average living costs in Australia.

Students should be aware that these costs can vary depending on your study location in Australia.

  • Hostels and Guesthouses – $90 to $150 per week
  • Shared Rental – $85 to $215 per week
  • On campus – $90 to $280 per week
  • Homestay – $235 to $325 per week
  • Rental – $165 to $440 per week
  • Boarding schools – $11,000 to $22,000 a year
Other living expenses
  • Groceries and eating out – $80 to $280 per week
  • Gas, electricity – $35 to $140 per week
  • Phone and Internet – $20 to $55 per week
  • Public transport – $15 to $55 per week
  • Car (after purchase) – $150 to $260 per week
  • Entertainment – $80 to $150 per week
Minimum cost of living

The Department of Home Affairs has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa for Australia. From 1st February 2018 the 12 month living cost is:

  • You – $20,290
  • Partner or spouse – $7,100
  • Child – $3,040

This would mean your average living cost would be around AU$311 per week.

Options to permanent residency after studying in Australia

Some students come to Australia and they like living here so much that they decide to live here and apply for Permanent Residence Visa after completion of their studies.

When choosing a course it is always important to think about it’s prospects and chances of getting a permanent visa. A start could be to look at our occupation lists and seeing which list(s) and visas you fall under. Please note that although your occupation might be on the list TODAY it could be removed by the time you are eligible for a PR visa or another temporary visa which makes you a step closer to getting a PR.

Post Study Work Visa

At the completion of study many applicants find that they are not immediately eligible for permanent residence. This may be because they don’t have enough points for skilled migration, or they don’t have an employer or state government to sponsor them. Many applicants in this situation find that the Post Study Work Visa (subclass 485) is a suitable visa following their studies.

General Skilled Migration

Skilled migration is a program of permanent visas based on your skills and work experience which does not require an employer to sponsor you. There are a number of requirements which must be satisfied such as skill and English language requirements as well as a points test. The skilled migration points test will change from November 16, 2019. The changes will affect subclass 491 applicants as well as applications for other skilled migration visas that have not been assessed at that time

Employer Sponsored Visas

An alternate visa pathway could be via employer sponsored visas. Sometimes where an applicant cannot meet skilled migration requirements the next best option is employer sponsorship because the requirements are different to skilled migration, and sometimes easier to meet.

The employer sponsored pathway often involves a process of obtaining a temporary visa initially (subclass 482), then working towards a permanent visa after having worked in Australia for at least 3 years for your sponsoring employer. This is not always required – in some cases you could apply directly for permanent residence (186 visa), but often the employer prefers the TSS 482 visa transitional pathway.

Student visa costs for Australia

If you are an overseas student studying in Australia, then you probably need Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). The cost of the OSHC policy will depend on the level of cover that you choose and would cost you $438/year for singles cover, $2,685/year for couples cover and $4,026/year for family cover. Department of Home Affairs fees for student visas are:

Main applicant $620
Additional applicant Charge $460 (each)
Additional applicant Charge -18 $150 (each)

Citizenship Australia

  • Applicant must have resided in Australia for at least 4 years.
  • Applicant must have been a permanent resident for at least 1 year.
  • Applicant must spend no more than 270 days of the first 3 years outside Australia
  • Applicant must spend no more than 90 days of the previous year outside Australia

New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the world’s best places to live and study. Friendly and welcoming, New Zealand is a natural playground full of opportunities for unique experiences.

Tuition fees and course costs for international students in NZ

Undergraduate tuition fees: International undergraduate students can expect to pay around NZ$22,000-32,000  per year, with higher fees for subjects such as medicine and veterinary science. Most bachelor’s degrees take three years to complete.

Postgraduate tuition fees : If you’re an international master’s student, your annual fees will range between NZ$26,000-37,000 per year.

However, International PhD students pay the same as New Zealand local PhD students, which is about $6,500 to $9,000 per year for most subjects.

Studying a general English course would cost about $300 per week, or a Cambridge English exam course for $5,100 for 12 weeks. See a full list of indicative New Zealand university fees here.

Costs of Living in New Zealand for Students

New Zealand’s flexible education system has study options to suit every budget. The cost of living is similar to other OECD countries, and is teamed with an excellent work/life balance and a high quality of life.

As part of your student visa application, you must provide evidence that you can cover your living expenses while studying in New Zealand. If you’re studying in New Zealand on a scholarship or a sponsor/family member has agreed to accept financial responsibility for you while you’re here, you may not be required to show proof of funds.

If you will be studying in New Zealand for more than one year, you‘ll need to prove that you have at least $15,000 to support yourself for the first year. If you’re studying for less than a year, you must have at least $1250 for each month of study to contribute to your living expenses.

Living costs will depend on your lifestyle and which part of the country you live in. Some costs vary by region. For example, you may need to travel more in the main centres, and transport costs may be more expensive than in your home country.

You may be able to offset some of your costs by working. Most student visas enable you to work up to 20 hours per week, or full-time in the holidays.

Estimated cost of living in New Zealand

Rent (per week) $200-350
Groceries (per week) $100-$150
Uni Sports Centre and gym (per year) $500
Entertainment (per week) $50
Average meal $12-16
Milk (per litre) $2.50
Can of Coke $2.00
Hot Drink $3.50-$5.00
Lunch at the uni $5-12
Single bus trip $0.40-$8.20
Phone Credit $20-$40
Movie Ticket (Student Price) $11-$14
Textbooks (per year) $500- $1000
Haircut $20-$80
Doctor’s visit $15-$70
Dentist’s visit $150-$500

So in total, you need to budget for NZD15,000 per year as per the Immigration New Zealand student visa requirements, plus the return airfare or an additional NZ$2,000.

Options to permanent residency after studying in New Zealand

You can apply for a visa to work in New Zealand for up to 3 years after you finish your study if you have an acceptable qualification.

A Post-study work visa lasts for 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the level of your qualification and where you studied. From the end of November 2018, it replaces 2 previous visas:

  • Post Study Work Visa (open)
  • Post Study Work Visa (employer-assisted)
What you can do on a Post-study work visa

A Post-study work visa lets you work for any employer and in almost any job. Your partner can apply for a work visa and your dependent children can study fee-free as domestic students.

You can apply for a further Post-study work visa if you complete another qualification in New Zealand that:

  • is at least a Level 7 Bachelor’s degree
  • lasted for a minimum of 30 weeks, and
  • is higher than the qualification you submitted for your previous visa.
General Skilled Migration

If you plan to live in New Zealand permanently getting a skilled job in an occupation where there’s a shortage could improve your chances of getting a residence visa.

Employer Sponsored Visas

Depending on your situation, there may be other visas you can apply for if you want to work in New Zealand — most common visas when you are being sponsored and employed by an employer are:

If your occupation is on The Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) you will have more visa options. It is a list of skilled occupations that are in sustained shortage all over New Zealand. For example you may be eligible for the:

Citizenship New Zealand
  • Applicant must already have the right to be in New Zealand indefinitely (you’re a permanent resident of New Zealand or Australia)
  • Applicant must have lived here for at least the last 5 years and had the right to be in New Zealand indefinitely the whole time

Book a meeting today for a commitment free briefing with our Registered Migration Agents in Melbourne to find more about your visa options.