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A wizard time in Oz

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Australia offers Hong Kong students the means of acquiring academic qualifications that are internationally recognised and respected, from universities that are ranked in the world's top 50. They can also experience the richness of Australian culture and the breathtaking beauty of its natural landscape.

"Studying in Australia promotes innovative, creative and independent thinking. Overseas students will learn to work as part of a team, to communicate effectively with others and to develop the practical skills and intellectual abilities they need for global success. Upon graduation, their qualification will make them highly sought after by Australian and international employers," explains Linda Yan, Trade Commissioner for the Australian Trade Commission in Hong Kong.

" Overseas students will also get the chance to experience Australia's multicultural lifestyle with its diversity of customs and cuisines, its safe and friendly environment and have easy access to its natural environment. With its proximity to Hong Kong, local students will also be able to comfortably connect with family and friends."

With over 600,000 international students from more than 200 countries enrolling in courses every year, Australia is a popular destination. Around 100,000 Hong Kong students have studied there over the past six years, with more than 4,500 enrolments from Hong Kong in 2011, despite the stellar rise in the Australian dollar.

Business-related courses such as business administration, finance, accounting, hospitality and tourism, and economics are popular. But courses attracting more interest include aviation, forensic science, veterinary science, creative design, and medical and health sciences.

While the three main cities - Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - are the most popular destinations, regional centres offer the same high-quality education programmes with cheaper living costs.

"With accommodation, meals and transport, students can live and learn in Australia from between A$1,500 to A$2,000 (about HK$11,700 to HK$15,600) a month. However, students on a visa can work part-time (up to 40 hours per two weeks) during study terms, and full-time in vacations," says Yan.

Students can choose from a wide variety of accommodation including independent living arrangements such as hostels, boarding schools, on-campus flats and dormitories, and rental accommodation in flats or share-house arrangements.

Alternatively, a home-stay can provide students with the chance to live in a supportive environment and to get to know more about local lifestyles first-hand.

Scholarships are also available for students from Hong Kong and Macau through a merit-based scholarship programme, Endeavour Awards. Details are available on the government website. Applications for the 2013 round are open now and close on June 30, 2012.

Successful completion of certain programmes can enable Hong Kong students to extend their stay and work for up to four years on a post-study visa. Students who finish a bachelor degree on a student visa can work for two years. Postgraduate students may be able to stay longer.

"Australia provides international students with the most rigorous consumer protection in the world in the Education Services for Overseas Students Act. All institutions meeting stringent standards for marketing, education delivery, facilities and student support are registered and listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students," Yan explains.

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