Moving to Australia
Arrive & Thrive: The essential guide for new international students
Before you leave home, follow these steps to ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.
- Organise travel arrangements such as your student visa and airline tickets.
- Have medical/dental check-ups and pack spare pairs of glasses/contact lenses and prescriptions for medications etc.
- Organise at least temporary accommodation, either on or off campus see the Student Accommodation Services website for help with this.
- Pack a folder with your important documents (passport, air ticket and other valuables) and place in your hand luggage. Make sure you take a few photocopies of your passport as well.
- Check customs and quarantine regulations and identify items you will need to declare (e.g. food).
- Ensure your hand luggage complies with airline requirements.
- Have at least A$1500 available for use on arrival in Sydney (plus approximately A$300 in cash).
- Pack some of your personal items such as photos, address books with contact details of family, friends and your country's embassy in Australia.
- Purchase padlocks for your luggage and secure them to your bags.
- There are several options for transport from Sydney Airport to your accommodation. Make sure you research the costs at www.sydneyairport.com.au.
Welcome to Australia and to the University of Sydney. The University has a long history of receiving international students and acknowledges the contribution they make both to the internationalisation of our curriculum and to the University community.
This guide will help you to access the information you need in order to adjust to life and study at the University of Sydney. We strongly recommend that you read all this material as it covers Orientation and Enrolment, Settling In, Transition Issues and lots of other practical information to ensure that your stay in Sydney is both safe and rewarding.
Important note: If you are here to study for six or twelve months only and you are taking your academic credit back to your home university, you are a Sydney Abroad or Exchange Student. If you will complete a full degree at the University of Sydney you are an International Full Degree Student.
3.1 Adjustment to study and life in Sydney
Adjustment to life in a new country can be challenging as you leave behind all that is familiar and face a set of entirely new experiences – a new culture, language and expectations of you as a student.
Check out the Arrival Information Sessions for practical information to help you get settled in Sydney and ensure your first few weeks run as smoothly as possible.
If you are a Sydney Abroad and Exchange Student, you should attend one Meet and Greet Session.
For detailed information about transitions, Australian culture and useful website and links see Adjusting to a new culture and international student zone on the CAPS website.
There are a number of student support services to help you during your time at the University of Sydney - explore the service and what they can offer you.
3.2 Finding accommodation
There will be 'New to Sydney' - accommodation information sessions held during February to help you find housing and give you information about living in Sydney.
For further information about temporary and permanent accommodation see the Student Accommodation Services website.
Student Accommodation Services can provide you with information about University owned accommodation as well as other accommodation in Sydney.
If you board or rent privately or through a real estate agent, you have rights and responsibilities. NSW Fair Trading provides advice and information about your rights as a tenant.
Information for tenants:
- Advice for renters
- Living in a boarding house
- Unauthorised accommodation (translations available)
- Redfern Legal Centre share-housing guide
You can also contact Tenants NSW for advice.
3.3 Budgeting and costs
Most banks in Australia have accounts specifically tailored for international students. There are two banks on the Camperdown/Darlington campus, the Commonwealth Bank and the National Australia Bank. Both of these banks offer an international student account. They are on level 3 in the Wentworth Building. These banks have a large network of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) across Sydney, which is important because you may not want to carry large amounts of money on your person.
For the banks on campus you may open a bank account using only your passport as identification if you have been Australia for less than 6 weeks. Visit the Study In Australia website for further information about opening a bank account in Australia.
3.5 Tax information
A Tax File Number (TFN) is a number issued to each taxpayer in Australia to fulfil taxation requirements. If you do not give your employer your TFN they are required by law to deduct the maximum amount of tax from your salary.
It is in your best interest to provide a tax file number to your employer as soon as you have received it. You can talk to the bank about whether or not they need your TFN. For further information about tax file numbers and tax returns in Australia visit the Australian Taxation Office website.
3.6 Mobile phones, computer and internet access
There is a wide range of mobile phone and internet services available in Australia. Before buying a phone or signing a contract read the consumer information at NSW Fair Trading or view the Consumer Guide for International Students. See also the information below on computing services on campus.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
For detailed information about internet and computing services on campus see the Student IT website. Upon enrolment at the University, you will be issued with a UniKey account. Your UniKey account enables you to access MyUni, which is the portal to online resources like your University email account, the accommodation database, CareerHub, and the internet. These services are only accessible once you have officially enrolled at the University.
If you have forgotten your UniKey password, you can have your password reset over the phone by contacting the ICT Helpdesk on +61 2 9351 6000. You will be asked for your student ID number, your date of birth and your faculty in order to confirm your identity. Alternatively, you can visit one of our learning hubs on campus to be issued with your UniKey and password. You will need to provide photo ID (such as a passport).
Every student is issued with an email account for the duration of their enrolment. The university will communicate with you through this email account.
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
The University of Sydney is required to nominate a health insurer for international students and has chosen Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) Allianz as your fund provider. You may change health insurer at anytime. Please explore the OSHC Allianz website to understand the extent of and limits to your cover. To arrange to get your OSHC Allianz membership card, click on Students Toolbar and then select “Order a Membership Card”. If you need to see a doctor before you get your membership card you will need to pay first and then make a claim for a refund from your healthcare fund.
OSHC Allianz has a representative on campus to help you obtain your membership card and assist with claims and other queries.
When: Monday to Friday, 9am5pm
Where: International Services, Level 4, Jane Foss Russell Building (see map)
If you go to hospital you should notify OSHC Allianz as soon as possible so they can advise you about your insurance.
You can see a doctor (also known as a GP/General Practitioner) in their private practice or a medical centre, with part or the entire doctor’s fee being covered by OSHC (see above). You’ll need to make an appointment to see most GPs. It’s important to note that some GP surgeries will request full payment at the time of consultation and you’ll need to get a receipt to claim the rebate back from your health cover provider.
The University provides a medical service on campus. Visit the University Health Service website.
In Australia there are both public and private hospitals. Waiting times in hospitals can be extensive and are based on a triage system (a process of prioritising patients based on the severity of their condition).
Private hospitals can be very expensive for treatment and hospitalisation. Your OSHC will cover some of the cost of some private hospitals but you will have to pay the difference.
The closest hospital to the University of Sydney is the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital.
Sydney’s extensive public transport system services the city centre and suburbs. Types of transport include buses, trains, light rail and ferries. There are also private bus companies that service some areas. In order to make sure you get the best value for your transport dollar you should visit:
Timetables, fares and general transport information: www.transportnsw.info
Sydney buses: www.sydneybuses.info
Sydney trains: www.sydneytrains.info
We suggest you investigate the value of prepaid tickets and multiple journey tickets find out about reduced price transport options for international students.
Information about public transport is available online. This site also contains service information updates and translated materials.
Plan your trip
If you need to use public transport, a useful online trip planner is available that will help you work out the best way to get to where you want to go. For more information, visit the website or phone 13 15 00.
You must have a valid ticket with you whenever you travel on public transport in Sydney, including buses, trains, ferries and light rail. If you do not have a ticket with you, you may be fined. More information.
Some buses are prepaid only and you must purchase your ticket or Opal card at an authorised seller. Most newsagents sell tickets. More information.
The new electronic ticketing system, Opal, is an easy, convenient and fast way of travelling on the public transport network in Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands. Instead of buying a paper ticket you load value onto your Opal card via a range of convenient options to pay for your fare and you keep your card on a permanent basis. You also have the option of registering for automatic recharging.
You must TAP ON and TAP OFF public transport so you are charged the correct fare. More information.
There are also other offences that you may be penalised for: you cannot smoke or drink alcohol on Sydney public transports or on train platforms. More information.
International students are generally not eligible for transport concessions however some students qualify for discounted fares. More information.
Free Sydney shuttle buses
The free Sydney CBD shuttle bus runs every 10 minutes in both directions from Central Station to Circular Quay via George Street.
The green buses have the route number 555.
Hours of operation are:
Weekdays: 9am – 3:30pm and 9pm on Thursdays
Weekends: 9:30am – 6pm
Free shuttle buses also run in Parramatta and Wollongong. More information.
Stay safe on public transport
We want you to feel safe to travel on Sydney public transport. Police Transport Command officers regularly patrol public transport to ensure your safety. Feel free to ask them questions or alert them or another public transport employee if you have any concerns. More information.
Make sure you know your rights and responsibilities when you travel in a taxi or hire car. More information.
Cultural and religious diversity is an important part of life in Australia and people are free to practice and follow their own beliefs and religion. The predominant religion amongst Australians is Christianity. Other religions in Australia include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism.
A number of major religions and their Australian websites are listed below:
|Anglican Church of Australia||www.anglican.org.au|
|Catholic Church in Australia||www.sydney.catholic.org.au|
|Seventh Day Adventist||www.adventist.org.au|
|Uniting Church in Australia||www.nsw.uca.org.au|
Sydney University Chaplaincy
The University of Sydney has a Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre with chaplains appointed by their faith community and officially recognised by the University to provide spiritual support and pastoral care to students and staff on campus.
3.10 Your safety and security
It is important for you to take responsibility for your personal safety. Away from your home environment you may be more vulnerable.
Familiarise yourself with our Student Safety Tips, available in 8 languages.
Read the safety information from Sydney City Council.
Here are some simple tips to follow:
- Contact Campus Security if you are on campus and feel unsafe or under threat at any time. Keep the Campus Security number 9351 3333 or freecall 1800 CAMPUS (226787) in your mobile.
- Put the emergency number for police, fire and ambulance '112' (for mobiles) and '000' (from landlines) into the speed dial function of your phones.
- Keep you local police station number handy near your home telephone. Do not hesitate to ring the police if necessary.
- Walk quickly and purposefully if you are walking alone, whether at night or during the day. If you have late lectures, arrange to walk to the bus stop, station, or to your accommodation with other people or contact Campus Security and ask for a security escort.
- In the evenings, use the free campus security shuttle bus to get from campus to the nearest public transport.
- Stay Together with your group in social situations. Do not leave with strangers.
- Stay in well-lit areas around campus and brightly lit, peopled streets if you have to walk alone at night.
- Be alert and stay aware of what is happening around you. If you feel someone is following you, crossing the street to come closer to you, or behaving in a way which seems suspicious to you, move to a safe area such as a shop.
- Trust your intuition in any situation. If you feel that something is not right take immediate steps to remove yourself from that situation.
If you are attacked, shout, "Call 000! Someone is attacking me!" This avoids people thinking it is a domestic conflict and gives them 'permission' to call 000 (112 for mobiles).
- Plan your transport before you leave home. See www.transportnsw.info.
- Sit in the aisle seat on the train if traveling late at night. Use the train carriage marked with a blue light as this has a security guard.
- Give up your bag if someone tries to snatch it. This lessens the chance of injury to you. Try not to carry items or documents that cannot be replaced eg. your passport. Leave them in a safe place at home. If you must carry them, make sure you have a photocopy at home.
- Always keep doors and windows locked at home. Leave windows open only if they are fitted with security bars. If you have a security door, keep it locked at all times. Do not open your door to strangers.
- Always buy your own drinks and never leave your drink unattended, to avoid your drinks being spiked in bars or clubs.
- Beach safety
Sydney has some of Australia’s most beautiful and popular beaches. We hope you will enjoy them safely:
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags on patrolled beaches and do not swim alone
- Raise and wave your hand if you need help when you are in the water
- Feel free to speak to the lifesavers and ask them advice or report any problems
- Visit Surf Lifesaving Australia for more information about staying safe on the beach and near the water.
- Sun safety
The Australian sun can burn your skin even on a cloudy day. Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world.
- Whenever you are outside, wear sunscreen (50+ SPF), long sleeved clothes, a broad-brimmed hat and UV protected sunglasses
- Try to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day (10am – 3pm).
- Visit Cancer Council NSW for more information about sun safety.
- Bush safety
Sydney and NSW have many spectacular national parks and areas of natural beauty we encourage you to explore and enjoy safely. If you are going into the bush or outback, even in a national park, always:
- Make sure someone knows where you are going, if possible
- Always go with others, preferably a guide who is familiar with the area
- Wear good walking shoes, take a first aid kit, plenty of food and water and anything you might need if the conditions change – a jumper, rain coat etc
- Check the weather forecast before you go and be aware the - Stay on trails and walking tracks and be very careful if you plan to swim in lakes or rivers. Do not dive in and look for signs advising of any dangers.
- Do not feed or touch animals.
- Know emergency first aid and try to stay within mobile phone range.
- For more information about being safe in the bush, see the NSW National Parks website
- Pedestrian safety
- Traffic travels on the left hand side of the road in Australia, which is different to many other parts of the world. Always be aware and alert around traffic and on roads.
- Always cross at traffic lights when the green signal flashes or at pedestrian (zebra) crossings. Always look to the left and then the right and the left again when crossing the road, even at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.
- Walk on footpaths (sidewalks) wherever possible.
- More information.
You will need to check with NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to see if a drivers’ license from your home country allows you to drive in Australia. See their website for information:
If your license is accepted or you decide to obtain your Australian drivers’ license, remember that traffic travels on the left hand side of the road in Australia, which is different to many other parts of the world. Always be aware and alert when driving, particularly when changing lanes and turning corners.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence in Australia with severe penalties. The alcohol limit varies depending on the type of license you have but for an unrestricted license, the maximum allowable blood alcohol limit is 0.05. More information. However, we recommend that if you are going to drive, do not drink. See public transport options above.
- Always check for speed limit signs. Speeds may vary at different times of the day in particular areas, such as around schools. Keep an eye out for changes to speed limits as speeding is a serious offence with harsh penalties.
For more safety tips translated into a number of languages, see City of Sydney Community Safety Tips
Important information and contact details:
- Emergency Services – Police, Ambulance, Fire Service: 000
- University of Sydney Security Service: 02 9351 3333
- Non-emergency Police Assistance: 13 14 44
- Telephone Interpreter Service: 13 14 50
- University of Sydney Counselling and Psychological Services Camperdown (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday): 02 8627 8433 or 8627 8437
Cumberland (9am - 5pm Mondays and Tuesdays): 02 9351 9638
- Lifeline 24 hour crisis support: 13 11 14
- Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
- Alcohol and Drug Information Service: 1800 422 599
- Poisons Information Service: 13 11 26
- Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service: 1800 737 732
- Redfern Legal Centre International Student Legal Advice: 02 9698 7645
3.11 Information for families
For information about applying to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for your family's visas visit www.immi.gov.au/students/students/bringing_family/.
Schooling, school fees and child care
Information about schooling in Australia can be found at the NSW Education & Communities website.
Childcare arrangements and fees – for more information please go to University’s Child Care Information Office website.
There are several supermarket chains in Sydney. These include the large stores Woolworths and Coles, and smaller supermarket chains such as Franklins and Aldi, which sell food products and household goods at discounted prices. These supermarkets provide fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, canned goods, meat, bread, laundry and cleaning supplies and much more. The larger supermarkets usually operate 7 days per week.
In most suburbs in Sydney there are also convenience stores such as 7-11 which often have extended trading hours and sell a range of groceries including milk, butter, bread etc. The goods in these stores can be considerably more expensive than in supermarkets.
Markets are a good place to purchase new and secondhand clothing and all sorts of household goods and food. Two large markets are located at Flemington and Haymarket (Chinatown). Visit www.sydneymarkets.com.au for details.
Markets are also located in suburban areas. For information about these visit www.you.com.au/market-sydney.html.
For information on where to find other bargains in clothing, shoes, household goods, furniture and much more check either the Bargain Shoppers Guide To Sydney or the Trading Post. Print versions can also be purchased at most newsagents.
Locanto is a classifieds website that allows everyone to list accommodation opportunities, furniture and other household goods in and around Sydney.
For an up-to-date list of halal butchers and restaurants in Sydney, please visit the NSW Islamic Council website: www.icnsw.org.au
For an updated list of kosher butchers and restaurants in Sydney, please visit www.jewishaustralia.com
Sydney is a multicultural city and has a variety of food available. There are many cheap restaurants and cafes to choose from around the University.
There is a book called the Cheap Eats Guide to Sydney, which lists many of the cheaper restaurants and cafes around the city of Sydney. The Cheap Eats Guide is available from most newsagencies and can also be found online www.eatstreets.com.au.
There is a food court at Broadway Shopping Centre (close to the Camperdown campus) which is open for extended hours.
Household items and clothing
The major department stores in Sydney include David Jones and Myer. Both these stores are located in the shopping district of the city centre and also in suburban areas, usually in shopping malls. An extensive range of clothing, shoes, household goods, electrical items can be purchased at the department stores but they can be expensive.
Discount variety stores such as K-Mart, Best & Less, Target, and Big W often sell less expensive clothing. All the above stores sell household goods such as linen and electrical items etc.
There are clothing factory outlets in the area around Surry Hills which sell clothing at reduced prices. Check the Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Sydney for further details.
3.13 What to do in Sydney
Sydney is a vibrant city with activities and events occurring all year round. We encourage you to get out and enjoy the city and experience life in multicultural Australia; including many cultural, sporting, recreational activities and events that are free or low cost.
The City of Sydney produces a guide for International Students (PDF) that is updated every year with information about what is on and where to get great deals
There are a number of self-guided walks you can take to see the sights of our beautiful city and become more familiar with it.
You can also find out more about upcoming events on the City of Sydney website.
The Friday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald also contains an extensive entertainment guide to activities in Sydney over the weekend and into the following week. The guide is called Metro and provides a listing of community events, exhibitions, live music (jazz, rock, classical and even country) comedy, theatre, lectures, courses and private tuition, fairs, concerts and children’s activities many of which are free.
Look for half-price days at the various cinema chains such as Event Cinemas and Hoyts or your local independent cinema. The half-price days are usually on Tuesdays. Sydney has an extensive range of independent cinemas, which show foreign language films and art house movies. The independent movie theatres include Stanmore Theatre, Paddington Twin, the Chauvel, Dendy (Newtown). There is a Hoyts Cinema at Broadway Shopping Centre. Sydney also has a thriving theatre and local music scene.
TimeOut Sydney is another website that features useful entertainment guides online.
4.1 International Student Support
Services are available to support international students during their application and period of study at the University of Sydney.
The Student Recruitment & Admissions Unit provides advice and assistance relating to applications for study and academic progress for international students undertaking a full degree at the University of Sydney. Staff are available to help international students with questions regarding student visas, permission to work, enrolment and other related issues. The Student Advisers support students and liaise with faculties on enrolment and visa related compliance issues. Students who are experiencing difficulty with their studies, or adjusting to life in Australia should contact the Student Advisers by emailing .
Finance Officers in International Services provide assistance relating to fee payment and the student stipends for AusAID students.
Sydney Abroad within International Services coordinates the application, admission, academic advising, Study Abroad Internship Program, enrolment services, Orientation and social support program for visiting Sydney Abroad and Exchange Students only. Sydney Abroad also coordinates the International Exchange Program for students who wish to study overseas at one of the University's many exchange partner universities for one semester, two semesters, and short term study periods. International partnership agreements are also managed within this team.
The Australia Awards team within International Services supports students funded by Australian Development Scholarships (ADS) and Australian Leadership Awards (ALA). The team provides advice to prospective and current students regarding their study at the University, including advice about their Scholarship, academic progress or welfare following arrival in Australia. The team organises specialised arrival sessions and pre-departure sessions for all Australia Award students.
Working in Australia
Australia is a great place to live and work, offering lifestyle and employment opportunities. The Careers Centre can assist you to find paid and unpaid work, internships and cadetships. However, in order to work, you must have a valid Australian visa with work rights. To find out if you are eligible and requirements or provisions, visit Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Conditions for working while studying
Fact Sheet 50: Overseas students in Australia
4.2 Student visas
Most international students will be in Australia on a student visa. It is your responsibility to ensure that you hold a valid eCoE and student visa at all times while you are in Australia. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the .
For more detailed information about your student visa visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) or phone the DIBP general enquiries line – 131 881.
4.3 Academic policy and progression requirements
It is strongly recommended that you read information on policies and procedures that is provided on your Faculty website – particularly in relation to Special Consideration (relevant should an assignment or exam suffer because of a serious illness or misadventure).
For detailed information about study load requirements for international students, special circumstances surrounding reduced load requests, suspension or discontinuation of study see your faculty website. For details relating to unsatisfactory academic progression see the Student Affairs Unit. For details on conditions for visa holders, see the DIBP website.
Advice, advocacy and support in relation to the above is provided to undergraduate students by the Student Representative Council (SRC) and to postgraduate students by SUPRA.
4.4 Support for students
The University is committed to providing essential support to you to ensure that you optimise your experience of studying overseas. University students often find that at some point things don’t go to plan – especially when they are away from home and familiar people and places. So knowing what support is available can make things easier during any difficult times. You may not need any student support services immediately but it is important to know where to find them if you do.
In addition to approaching lecturers within your faculty, there is a range of academic support services available to students at the University of Sydney. These include the Library services, Student IT services, the Learning Centre, the Mathematics Learning Centre and language support services. All these services are provided free to enrolled students.
Other student support services
Student Support Services are based on level 5, Jane Foss Russell building. Services include Disability Services, Counselling and Psychological Services, Student Accommodation Services, Child Care, the Careers Centre and the Scholarships and Financial Support Service.
Student Representative Bodies:
University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council (SRC)
The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is located in the Wentworth Building and offers undergraduate students free, autonomous and confidential advice on matters including academic appeals, showing cause/exclusion, tenancy advice, fee refunds, harassment and discrimination, international student issues and academic issues such as plagiarism and misconduct. Website
Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA)
SUPRA is run by postgraduate students for postgrads with a goal to promote, support and provide assistance both academically and personally. SUPRA provides free advice and acts on behalf of individual students on matters such as fee issues, academic appeals, supervision issues, international student issues, accommodation and tenancy advice, show cause and exclusion, intellectual property and academic issues such as plagiarism and misconduct. It is located in the Demountable Village. Website
Council of International Students Australia (CISA)
The Council of International Students Australia (CISA) is the national peak student representative body independently run by international students for international students studying at the postgraduate, undergraduate, private college, TAFE, ELICOS and foundation level. Website
4.5 Get involved in student life
The University of Sydney Student Union provides you with fantastic opportunities to: develop your leadership and teamwork skills; find entertainment; join clubs and societies; and meet others with similar interests. You can also become involved as a volunteer and make a contribution to the university or broader community. Unimates is a club that takes special interest in international students.
International Student Lounge
The University of Sydney Union’s International Student Lounge located on level 4 of the Wentworth Building is a resource and cultural centre for students studying at the University of Sydney.
The Lounge has information and staff to assist commencing international students’ transition to the University community and has weekly cultural and international student programs, free computer access and tea and coffee.