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Australia

About Australia
Australia officially the ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans has 34,218 kilometers (21,262 mi) of coastline. Also not to forget, the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, lies a short distance off the north-east coast and extends for over 2,000 kilometers . Australia is a developed country and one of the wealthiest in the world, with the world's 12th-largest economy. The population of 23.1 million is highly urbanized and heavily concentrated in the eastern states. In 2012, Australia had the world's fifth-highest per capita income. Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.
Living in Australia
History - 40,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who spoke languages grouped into roughly 250 language groups. After the discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s and the Eureka Rebellion against mining license fees in 1854 was an early expression of civil disobedience. Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained responsible government, managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the British Empire. The Colonial Office in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign affairs, defense, and international shipping. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation comprises six states and several territories.

Climate and Environment- Australia is a land of contrasts: sweeping golden beaches, coral reefs rich with marine life, tropical rain forests, mountain ranges, vast grazing lands and sparse deserts. Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year but the climate can vary due to the size of our continent. The northern states typically experience warm weather much of the time, with the southern states experiencing cooler winters. Australia is also one of the driest continents on earth with an average annual rainfall of less than 600 millimeters. Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, Australia's seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring. Average summer temperature is 5oc- 17oc and average winters 3o c- 12oc. Because of the continent's great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota is unique and diverse. Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species; particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions, wattles replace them in drier regions and deserts as the most dominant species. Among well-known Australian animals are a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra.

Culture and Religion- Australia has no state religion. In recent times Australia has seen a stream of migrants making a home for themselves and lending the country (continent) its multicultural, multihued existence. Most of the world’s countries are now represented and this can be seen in the food, fashion, colloquial language and even religion. English is the predominant and official language, but many other tongues also flourish here. The early settlers brought Christianity with them to a land where the Aborigines had a religion of their own. Subsequent migrants have contributed towards introducing Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. Australia has become the melting pot of various cultures, religions and lifestyles and it is this secularism that has contributed to the growth of this country and will continue to do so. English is the official language, but a large part of the population is bi- or even multi-lingual. Italian is spoken at home by almost 2.3% of the population, Greek by 1.6%, Cantonese by 1.2% and Arabic by 1%. It is the first generation of settlers that still speak their original language at home, but the shift to more and more English being spoken at home is seen primarily in the second generation. French, German, Maltese and Hungarian too find a place in spoken languages. In fact a large number of the overseas student population comes to Australia either to study or improve their command over the English Language.

In government sponsored events, arts crafts, visits to museums as also dance, music and theatre are popular activities amongst the natives. The country sees a large number of national celebrations, Australia Day, Labour Day, Queen’s Birthday, Christmas and Easter to name a few.
Education System in Australia
Australia is internationally known for its high quality education as well as research excellence. Because the government keeps a tight control on the working of both the universities and vocational institutes, a high standard of education delivery is able to be maintained. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It is administered nationally by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, with oversight from the States and Territories, through the Standing Council of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment. While the AQF specifies the standards, education and training organizations are authorized by accrediting authorities to issue a qualification. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006 evaluation ranked the Australian education system as sixth for reading, eighth for science and thirteenth for mathematics, on a worldwide scale including 56 countries. In 2012, education firm Pearson ranked Australian education as thirteenth in the world. Australia has an adult literacy rate that was estimated to be 99% in 2003. With only the US and UK ahead of it, Australia has the third largest number of international students studying there. For many students from all over the world, Australia is their first choice of English-speaking study destination. This is because Australian qualifications are world recognized and often lead to good job positions. The study costs are also comparable to the US & UK. Australia has 37 government-funded universities and two private universities, as well as a number of other specialist institutions that provide approved courses at the higher education level.
Working in Australia
International students in Australia on a student visa can apply for permission to work up to 20 hours a week during course time and full-time during vacation periods.

Entry requirements to study at Australian institutions
Students must meet minimum academic requirements and need a sufficient level of English language proficiency for entry to Australian education and training institutions. Institutions will assess whether you meet the selection criteria set for your proposed course of study. They will look at the level and content of the study you have completed in Australia or your home country.

Working while you study in Australia
  • International students studying in Australia on a student visa can apply for permission to work once they start their course. A visa with permission to work enables you to work up to 20 hours a week on a casual basis during course time and full-time during vacation periods. Occasionally family members can also apply for permission to work up to 20 hours a week throughout the year. In the case of masters and Ph.D. students and AusAID or Defense-sponsored students, family members can apply for permission to work unlimited hours. If you are the family member of a student who has commenced a masters or Ph.D. course, you must bring evidence from the education provider that the student has started this course. Under certain circumstances dependents of students are permitted to work.
  • The income you get from working in Australia should only supplement your income and not be used as your only source of income. Before you come to Australia, you must show that you have enough money to pay for living expenses, education costs and travel for the duration of your study.
  • Most students take part-time or casual jobs at some time during their studies. Some jobs are closely tied to courses of study (such as part-time work by law students in solicitors’ offices). Some students teach school children or get jobs on campus in the canteen, the bookshop, in the institution’s offices and as lab assistants. Some jobs are entirely outside the education community such as bartending, babysitting, gardening, hospitality, sales, computers, restaurants, or fruit picking.
Accommodation in Australia
  • Most universities and colleges can provide accommodation on or near to their campus. University apartments, residential colleges and halls of residence are generally available.
  • International students often enjoy staying at the halls of residence as they have opportunity to mix with many other students on a full-time basis. This is also one of the cheapest options for accommodation. Meals and some cleaning services are usually provided.
  • Residential colleges provide accommodation with meals. They are slightly more expensive than university Halls of Residence. The facilities are more comprehensive and often include fully serviced rooms, sporting and recreation facilities, computer and internet access and sometimes a library.
  • International students have the option of sharing accommodation with other students. They are able to share the rent on an apartment or a flat close to the campus. Some Australian families provide home stay accommodation for international students. It is often wise for a student to organize temporary accommodation until they have had a chance to consider the alternatives.
  • Backpackers, youth hostels, guest houses and hotels provide a variety of housing options at various costs. Individual universities and colleges are also able to provide information on accommodation available. Prices vary from place to place, so local information is important.