Students who wish to study in Australia may first attend a pathway program to help them meet the entry requirements to get into the course they want. This might include taking an English language preparation course, attending an Australian school or VET, or enrolling in a foundation studies or bridging course.
English Language Courses
Unlike most other countries, English teaching industry is regulated in Australia to ensure all international students receive a high quality of instruction. English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) are designed for students who require English language training before commencing formal studies in Australia.
There are nearly 300 accredited ELICOS centres across Australia, many of which are attached to a secondary school, TAFE college, or university. Students can get an admission offer for an academic program that are conditional on the successful completion of the required ELICOS.
Note: There are other English language programs that a student can enrol in, but only ELICOS programs are eligible for the study visa.
Bridging courses are short courses, ranging from a few weeks to a couple months in duration, that help students meet the subject-specific prerequisite requirement for admission into a higher education course. Bridging courses are offered in a variety of subjects, including Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and English.
Foundation studies is usually a one-year intensive preparatory course that gives students the overall academic skills they need to enter an undergraduate (Bachelor Degree) course. Foundation studies are available at many schools, VET colleges, and universities.
These studies are usually divided into streams such as business studies and science studies, and offer both compulsory and elective subjects. English language support is usually available. Students also get exposed to the Australian culture, which helps them overcome culture shock and settle into life in Australia before starting their undergraduate course.
Completing a diploma program is another pathway students often follow to gain admission into undergraduate higher education (Bachelor) courses if they do not meet the requirements for direct entry into those courses.
Foundation courses and diplomas are both suitable pathways to higher education, and offer their own advantages. Foundation courses include broad subject offerings and help students build the academic skills they need to succeed in a university. They are best suited for students interested in academic programs.
Diplomas, on the other hand, include more focused education/training in the student’s chosen field of study. However, they are not available in all areas of study given their applied status. Diploma courses are longer in duration than a foundation course, but lead to education that’s considered equivalent to the first year of university education. Depending on the subjects completed to earn a diploma, a university may exempt a student from first year courses.
Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
When choosing where to study and what to study, students and their education advisors must ensure that their chosen course is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
The Australian government protects the interests of all international students and ensures they get quality education by requiring institutions to become registered on CRICOS. The CRICOS website lists all the courses and institutions that are available to students who wish to obtain a student visa. In other words, enrolment in a CRICOS course is an eligibility requirement for study visa.
Students may take short courses, which are not listed on CRICOS, with another type of visa, such as the visitor visa, but they will not be covered under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act.