Study in Australia from Nepal: Situation of Nepalese Students

Studying in Australia

Studying in Australia has been a fancy thing in today’s world. Australia ranks 7 of the top 100 universities in the world and offers over 22,000 courses across 1,100 institutions. Despite the population of only 24 million, OZ has the third highest number of international students in the world after the United Kingdom and the United States. And it is no surprise that facts such as ranking in top 10 countries in terms of Human Development Index, Quality of life index, 5 of the 30 best cities in the world for students, this country is attracting thousands of students every year around throughout the globe.

Why study in Australia?

Reasonable study costs, globally recognized courses and institutions, a lively and multicultural lifestyle and if you study in Australia, you’ll get a wonderful abroad experience and opportunity for a lifetime along with world-class education. That’s what the educational consultancies will be sharing with you during the information sharing sessions. Also not to forget the beautiful weather, diverse landscapes with beautiful coastlines, outback, and modern cities. The unique kangaroos, koalas are the attractions in Australia. You wouldn’t want to miss these things while getting an education, experience and at the same time traveling in a beautiful destination. Do you?

These alluring facts and figures are sure to attract hundreds of thousands of students aspiring to make the best out of a few years of higher studies.

Nepal is not untouched by the trend of an increasing flow of students to Australia. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Nepal overtook the place of Brazil as the third highest source of applicants rising by 46% to nearly 12,000 prospective students. The educational consultancies here present the brightest sides of Australian education and not the struggles one has to face during his/her stay in Australia.

The youngsters and their young blood fall into the trap of beautified dreamy sides; beautiful places, freedom, few hours of work and decent money.

What else should one expect more than that!

Australian Embassy in Nepal

Australian Embassy, Nepal is located in Bansbari, Kathmandu. Australian embassy is the only Australian representation in Nepal.

All the visa applications from Nepal are processed at the visa office of the Australian High Commission, New Delhi, India. VFS Global Service collects visa applications on behalf of the Australian High Commission Visa Office and proceeds the visa application. One has to lodge his/her visa at VFS Australia Visa Application Center, Academy of Culinary Arts, Ground Floor, Mahalaxmisthan Marga, Lagankhel, Lalitpur, Nepal. VFS office is open from Monday through Friday (8 AM until 4 PM).

Before the journey to Australia: Land of dreams for Nepalese Students

चट्ट अस्ट्रेलियाको सिड्नी सहरमा बस्ने, सफा ठाउँ, हल्का काम गर्ने, बेला बेला काढ्न जाने, weekend मा यता उता घुम्ने, कहिले Opera House अगाडी र कहिले Blue Mountains को फोटो राख्ने, आफ्नो पढाई सकिन्छ अनि १ २ वर्ष extra बस्न पाईहालिन्छ । त्यतिन्जेल सम्म घरमा लिएको ऋण पनि तिरिसकिन्छ । बाँकी सबै पैसा जोगाउने । भिसा सकिन्छ नि नेपालमै केहि गर्ने, जिन्दगी कति गज्जब । सोचेको जस्तो Life बनि हाल्यो नि । येस्तै सपना बोकेर सुरु हुन्छा Australia जाने र पढ्ने रहर ।Sydney Opera HouseVisa Apply गर्ने तनाब छुट्टै छ । मिहेनत गरेर IELTS पढ्यो अनि ५ ७ महिना लगाएर Visa apply गर्यो । त्यति धेरै तनाब पनि Australia पुग्ने सुन्दर Imagination ले कता हो कता हराएर जान्छ । अहिले सम्म को तनाब त बाल हो । अनि यता उता गरेर पैसा जम्मा गर्यो अनि बुझायो ।
Visa लागे पछि घरमा छुट्टै रौनक । घर परिवारमा बेग्लै शान । लाग्छ उसले संसार जित्यो ।

तर अब शुरु हुन्छ Life को पढाई , Experience को कमाइ र Struggle को Journey.

Further reading: Why am I not a Nationalist?

The study in Australia from Nepal requirements

Nepalese Students seeking to pursue higher education in Australia for more than 3 months have to apply for the student visa. Any course under 3 months falls under visitor visa or working holiday visa.

Some of the conditions to be followed while studying in Australia are as follows:

  • Students have to pursue a consistent study program that is recognized by the Australian Government.
  • Students have to fulfill all the requirements of the study program and also maintain valid enrolment. Working more than 20 hours a week during the semester is not allowed.
  • All the students have to sustain their OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover) all the time in Australia.

Documents required to lodge the Visa

  • All academic documents including mark-sheets, transcripts, provisional and character certificates.
  • Recent passport size photographs with white background.
  • IELTS Score
  • Financial documents to cover at least one year of tuition fee, travel and living cost.
  • Tax clearance letter
  • CA audit report
  • Experience letters (if any)
  • Financial documents supporting Income sources.
  • Property Valuation.
  • Relationship certificate with family members and sponsors (if any)
  • Birth certificate, Citizenship certificate and Passport (their respective translations in English)
  • CoE from College/Uni.
  • Cover Letter (Statement of Purpose i.e. SOP)
  • Demand Draft
  • Health Checkup.
  • Criminal Records certificate
  • Health Insurance Overseas Student Health Cover

Australia has a special system of health cover for international students called the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). It will help you pay for medical or hospital care you may need while you’re studying in Australia; it will also contribute towards the cost of most prescription medicines and an ambulance in an emergency. When studying in Australia, you will need OSHC for yourself, and any family traveling with you, before you arrive. It is a requirement of your student visa that you maintain OSHC for the duration of your time on a student visa in Australia.

  • Completed Australian Student Visa Application form (157A)

Student Visa Procedure

The students need to have a sufficient level of English Language Proficiency and minimum educational qualification before applying to the university. The process of Australian Student Visa begins with the application for admission to College/University. An offer letter would be sent by the College/University which takes the duration of 1 to 6 weeks. Prior to the offer letter, skype/phone interview might be conducted.

Cost of a student Visa in Australia

Currently the fees of student visa (Subclass 500) is $575 ($ = AUD) which is non-refundable.

Scholarship for Nepalese Students

The scholarships are offered by the Australian Government, education institutions and some others by public and private organizations.

Australian Awards:

The scholarships offered by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), The Department of Education and the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) are brought together as Australia Awards. Nepal is one of the member countries to receive this scholarship.

Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP):

Since the beginning of 2017, Research Training Program (RTP) replaced the International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS) program. The scholarship is offered by the Department of Education. The applications are made directly to a participating University.

Working provision for students in Australia

Getting a job is a great challenge in itself. As per the provision, one cannot work until the course has begun in Australia. Having an Australian Student visa permits a student to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight (i.e. 20 hours a week) when the course is in session and unlimited hours when the course is out of the session. As far as the PR holders are concerned they can work as many hours as they wish to.

The basic assumption is students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week and shouldn’t solely depend on work to sustain studies and living in Australia. The per capita income of Nepal is just slightly over $1000. But how do you think is possible that way? Would anyone opt to go there if they could afford their education with 20 hours of work a week? That simply is illogical. 

Further reading: The Happiness Project!

Stories of hardworking Nepalese students in Australia

A guy told me he worked for 92 hours a week for the first three months of his arrival in Australia. I don’t know where had the work provision of Australian Government gone during that time. I strongly believe that the Australian Government knows no student is going to work for just 20 hours a week. How can one do that? How’s s/he going to manage all the expenses and still manage to send some spare money to clear loans back home? Maybe it’s a smart way of making the international students work in lesser money. Don’t you think so?

So the guy had his 20 hours of work received as taxable money and the rest was paid in cash. Money is what drives him and motivated to work more and more. The guy worked so hard that he’s able to send $25,000 already. Got into the habit of playing poker and once he had promised his father of sending money home. He had $400 in his pockets and thinking of making some more, he went to a poker. After the continuous loss, he just had $10 with him. With the last move, he was able to make $3000. He immediately ran out of the place and send the money to Nepal right away. In the past, he was so used to playing it and said that losing $500-$600 a week had been a normal routine.

One day a guy started working at 5 AM in the morning and worked until 1 PM. During an hour break, he had his lunch and continued working for the next shift. He worked until 11 PM and when he was about to go home and sleep, one of his friends pleaded to substitute him and work for a few more hours. Realizing the help he had received from his friend earlier, he accepted the request and that day he worked for 23 hours in a row. Completely exhausted and wearied, he was driving back home. It wasn’t until he realized when someone was blowing the horn continuously that he was driving in the wrong lane. Lucky enough, he was saved.

How much does a student earn in Australia?

Good thing; Australia has the highest minimum salaries in the world even though everything else including food accommodation, transport, food, entertainment is expensive.

On 1 June 2018, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a 3.5% increase to base rates of pay. With the new provision, the minimum wage is set at $18.93 per hour or $23.66 for casual workers. The students with fairly good skills are supposed to earn more than that. With the increase in experience and skills, you will get paid more.

Commonly, students can get to work in retail stores that sell goods to customers. They range from clothing to electronics to groceries and can be a small one, a chain of stores or large department stores. Similarly, one can get jobs in services which include supermarkets, petrol stations, call centers etc among others. And there are very few who are lucky enough to get jobs in the field of studies. For instance, an accounting student getting a job at an accounting firm.

How much does it cost to study in Australia?

Even though the cost of studying in Australia is cheaper than that of the US, it still becomes way more because of scholarship provisions. Because of the fact that very few students are offered scholarships by the Australian Government, most of the international students are full fee paying students. And the average annual tuition fee is 33,400 AUD.Kangaroo Education

Cost of living in Australia

Australia is one of the most expensive countries to live in in the world and the reason being the very strong economy and low levels of unemployment. It is very very hard for students to survive in this country.

Cost of living in Australia is 154.99% and renting cost is 712.37% higher than in Nepal. Wow!! Totally surprising.

One has to pay hundreds of dollars a week for rent. Students normally pay between $100 to $200 per week in rent, on a sharing basis. Foods are normally can be expensive, but one can opt to have cheaper options too. There are many cheaper places to eat in major cities. mostly Asian restaurants. 

Public transportation is expensive as well. The average cost of living is 350$ to 400$ a week (i.e. Most students need at least $1,400 per month to live.) The bigger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are more expensive than cities such as Brisbane and Adelaide. But the bigger cities have more job opportunities than the rest of them.

On average, a student needs a month or so to find a job. If s/he isn’t competent enough (majorly English Language), it’s going to take even longer. There were a few instances in which some students didn’t get a job for 3-4 months. 4 freaking months without a job and just staying ideal??? I was wondering how did they manage to survive there.

Also, the first month of arrival is going to cost the student a lot. S/he has to pay a bond for an apartment, buy things for accommodation and others to set things up. A big headache!

The more I think about the expenses, the more I understand why people are too calculative.

Here’s the general breakdown of expenses per week:

Expenses in Australia for International Students

  1. Weekly Rent on a sharing basis: $100 to $200
  2. Groceries and eating out: $80 to $200 per week
  3. Utilities i.e. gas and electricity: $50 to $150 per week
  4. Phone and Internet: $40 to $80 per week
  5. Public Transportation: $60 to $100 per week
  6. Entertainment: $40 to $150 per week

Weekly expenditure = $370 to $880.

So the monthly expenses are somewhere between $1480 to $3520. Other Costs include books and learning materials which cost around $1000 a year. And this is just a rough calculation. The cost is going to change according to the circumstances and the cities of residence. If someone is a smoker, a drinker, and a partygoer, the cost is going to increase considerably. Alcohol, tobacco, and petrol are some of the many things that are very costly even more than in other developed countries.

One cannot afford to be sick in Australia. The medical fee is skyrocketed. For the safe side, one needs to have medical insurance filling up Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) form. This will ensure the medical costs incurred.

However, that’s not the problem. When one gets sick, s/he won’t be able to go to work and the whole equation of costing is hardly shattered. It’s going to affect the calculation and gives tough time to maintain it back to normal.

Further reading: Gillette’s Ad!

Australia Life

Expectations vs Reality

What a student expects in Australia and what s/he finds it is completely different. During my stay there, I talked to a lot of students and I didn’t find anyone who is satisfied with the situation. And it is not like how educational consultancies promise here in Nepal. The situation is pitch dark. 

“डलर छाप्छु भनेर आको मान्छे दुख पाएर बसिराछु ।” is what I heard from many students there.

And most of the students cannot return Nepal right away. They have thousands of dollars of loans to clear before leaving Australia. 

Because of family expectations back in Nepal and work-studies pressure in Australia, students are frustrated and some are even depressed. Recently, the cases of suicide have been on the rise as well. Back home, the family and relatives have high expectations from their children and they don’t completely know/understand what’s going on in Australia. Not everyone can handle the family expectations and added pressure in work and studies. Visa issues is another significant factor to consider. Every student with temporary visa fears about their visa status.

Every now and then, one has to think of paying for their tuition fee.

Paying 10-15k in a time frame of 6 months is not a joke.

And in some universities, they are planning to make it a trimester system. Whaaat? How would they pay tuition fees every 3 months?

The rise of gambling, alcoholism, prostitution, and suicide!

The added burden and responsibilities have set students into bad influence such as gambling, alcoholism and some into drugs as well. These traits, in the long run, will surely put them into stress and frustration. That is why the news of suicidal tendencies are rising.

Also, it was disheartening when I got to hear that many Nepalese female students are getting into prostitution. When they are left option-less with job opportunities, they chose this profession as easy money.

And some of the students were about to clear the loan they had taken while going to Australia. They are planning to leave Australia as soon as they clear the loans they have. One of them said, he would rather go to Gulf countries and work harder than what he works there. He need not worry about visa status, studies and attendance to maintain, accommodation, food, and other expenses. Still, he was confident enough that he’d be able to save more than what he does in Australia.

Nepalese students seeking life in Australia

During my stay in Australia, I could see smiles only in advertisements and posters. It’s not an individual controlling his/her life. Rather the money and time driving their lives crazy. Someone told Australia operates with Wine and Fine! I couldn’t agree more. Every now and then, people have a subconscious fear of the fine system. “You can do this and not that or else you have to pay the heavy fine.” Also, a person said Australia is the country run because of discipline threat. He defined the system well and understood how everything works there.

When I asked some of the Nepalese students if they were willing to go back to Nepal, their responses was sad but understandable. “I will work for 70+ hours a week and pay me $1000.” That statement was clear enough to portray how Nepalese system is.

After a lot of ongoing news about the hardships of students, people chose to go to Australia as a dependent. They thought it was easier that way. Few couples had good times and most of them had to undergo problems. Some had to divorce, some had extramarital affairs and many other life shocking events. 

More than 8-10 people live in a room. Or else they can’t manage to pay for the rent.

They are compelled to work for more than 10-12 hours a day and still manage to go to college 2-3 days a week.

How on Earth do they still manage to do that? Superhumans! What do you think will happen to them if they get sick for a week? How would they equalize the imbalance and the gap?Students in Australia

Summarizing the overall experience of Nepalese students staying in Australia, I found this experience to be the most promising one. Here it is: 

My entire experience after spending a fair amount of years in the land down under can be summed up in an “EXPECTATION VS REALITY” meme.

The abroad life that we envision versus the first few weeks after landing in the new place is one of the very few moments when you feel scammed. A very well written planned and executed scam that almost everyone in our Nepalese society seems to fall for. I can’t say I speak for everyone, but abroad life is more than what we see in our social media.

Behind the HD profile pictures, behind the check-in at fancy places and behind Facebook live events, lies the untold stories of Depressed youths, Stressed out students.

Secretly married couples, people who can’t afford to miss their jobs even if they are unwell, kids who don’t phone their parents because they can’t send money that they promised, boys addicted to betting apps in hopes of getting extra cash, youths trying to smoke away their pain away, people surviving on energy drinks, students hopelessly buying lottery tickets every week in hopes of maybe, just maybe scoring the lucky numbers someday.

Basically, people living their lives hoping for a miracle!

And another guy who has never been to Australia seeing the Facebook feeds, listening to his fellow friends’ stories and reading my article opines:

Life’s not a fairy tale neither a picture tale for those who have been to Australia at least for a few years.

All in all, the students who wish to pursue their higher studies, obtain good grades and return to Nepal in the hope of getting well-paying jobs are left with total despair in the end. Getting a good grade becomes a dream while the students are having a very tough time maintaining their attendance and even passing the examinations. Those who intend to stay there have a lot of hurdles to overcome and securing PR is a tough thing.

Further reading: Saathi Sanga Manka Kura Changing the lives of Millions of young people!

“If I say it’s very difficult, you won’t believe until you see it. Take a wise decision on time, think many times before taking any decision so that you don’t have to regret later.”

In the end, I would just like to say:

Studying in Australia is not as easy/simple/fancy/lavish/incredible as it has been presented. 

All the best!!!

About the author

I come from the land of Gurkhas; the brave soldiers who fought tirelessly and didn’t let any countries rule Nepal. Because of those Gorkhalis, the Nepalese are proud to call “Nepal has always been an independent nation so far.” Nepalese Flag is the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag; red color symbolizing the bravery and blue symbolizes peace and harmony. What a proud thing. Also, Nepal was the Hindu Kingdom in the past and now a secular state welcoming people from all the religions. Nepal is a country of living heritages and Kathmandu a city of temples. All in all, Nepal is a country with Unity in Diversity. Thank you for reading the boring random shits. These things don’t relate to me in any way. And those are not the things that describe me. If I introduce myself with the common voices of any nationality, group or community, it’s nothing but sheer stupidity. A part of it can be a shared introduction but not fully. So who am I? I don’t know who I am. It’s been years of SEARCH but nothing has been excavated yet. And also, I am not the right person to describe who I am. It's you who know me and whatever I say about me makes no sense. You tell me who I am ;)
7 Responses
  1. Rachel

    Love your honest, though somewhat brutal portrayal of Nepali students’ plight in Australia. But I do hope everyone of these kids find growth, and learn to persevere despite all these hardships studying overseas. You are young only once, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea surfing on the steep wave of learning curve and fall flat on the surface.

    1. Manoj

      Thank you so much Rachel!
      That’s true. We are young only once and there’s nothing wrong to face challenges and hardships during the early stage of our lives. However, I feel the problem lies in students “not-knowing” the upcoming struggles in their lives when they are there. If they know it earlier when they intend to go, they’d be more prepared. The fancy part if highlighted all the time and they have no idea about the other side of the story. And that comes as a shock. Not everyone can handle all at a time. I believe, that sucks!
      What do you think? 🙂

  2. Rachel

    Hmm I wonder if truly there’s information barrier on the real situation of foreign students in Australia? Surely there would be published information about actually or close approximation of cost of living and tuition fees as well as working hours allowed on student visas? I came to Australia to study As a Malaysian student. We were already informed beforehand the reality of studying in Australia. And some of us came with full expenses covered by parents, as they simply could afford. And some of us came with meagre start up money and have to fend for ourselves for the living cost and tuition fees. But all came here armed with such knowledge. Of course the latter ones, whether they persevered and succeeded or failed and bailed out, I am sure there are plenty of them. So yeah it’s interesting to hear Nepali students are not given true representation of what to expect in terms of the reality of affordability of studying in Australia.

    1. Manoj

      The information regarding hardships has not been completely delivered to the students. And mostly it’s the educational consultancies who tend to show the beautiful aspects of studying in Australia trying to hide the challenging parts. It is a sad reality here. More people are getting concerned with these things.
      Thank you 🙂

  3. Bishal

    I always listened from my colleagues and other people in Nepal,criticising all day about Australia.Even nowadays also they do.But i have researched more about Australia then I just realized this country is best for we Nepalese.Just grab opportunity,many other countries visa process is really though and Australia is a country who offering visa easily in comparison of other.I wanna say just all students who are willing to go abroad don’t think any thing go Australia it’s better for we Nepalese.Everybody knows Life is struggle,someme whow we have to manage.Hope Time changes.All countries are same ,we are getting these negative ,positive feedback because many our brothers are in Australia that’s it.
    Thanks brother for amazing content.

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