Our free support services are available to help you adjust to study and life at Victoria University (VU) in Melbourne.

You will find information about services for all our students in our current students section.

The links for some support services are also included on this page so that you can find them easily. You will also find additional information on this page, which has been put together especially for you as an international student.

Meet your International Student Advisors (ISAs)

Our International Student Advisors (ISAs) are here to support you throughout your time at VU. We will help you connect with support services at VU in the community.

Your first opportunity to meet with us will be online at the compulsory Meet Your ISAs session. We look forward to meeting you and helping you to ensure your time at VU is as rewarding as possible.

Register for the compulsory Meet Your ISAs session before your course start date:

Register to meet your ISA

Getting started at VU

If you're enrolling in an English Language or Vocational Education and Training (VET/TAFE) course, you will receive an email about your enrolment session.

If you’re enrolling in a Higher Education (HE) course, you can enrol online after you receive your ‘Enrolment is Open’ email. Find out more information about enrolling online.

You will have access to a range of tools and IT services to assist you with your studies.

The Getting Connected videos introduce you to some of these services. You can adjust the video speed at the bottom of the screen.

The Learning Hub provides study support, English language support, and career guidance to VU students. You can access workshops, drop-in sessions, online resources and get advice about assessments and assignment questions.

Learning Hub staff and Student Mentors are available to support you during your study and pass on knowledge and skills in specialised areas. VU Employ provides specialist careers advice and services.

The Learning Hub video (English language, closed captions available) gives more information about Student Mentors and accessing the Learning Hub services online.

After you enrol, log into the Learning Hub online to see all the workshops, drop-in sessions, study essentials and other services available. If you have any questions or cannot log in, email [email protected].

Preparing to leave home

When you are leaving home there is a lot to plan, including:

  • transport
  • accommodation
  • medical and dental needs (have a dental check-up before leaving home because dental services in Australia are expensive and are not covered in the basic OSHC)

Book your flight to arrive at least two weeks before your course start date, or four weeks if you need to look for long term accommodation. Ask your airline if they have extra baggage allowance for students.

Book your free airport reception for your arrival in Melbourne (this must be pre-booked at least 10 days before you arrive). Or, Skybus transfers passengers between Melbourne and Avalon airports and Melbourne city.

Book your short-stay accommodation in Melbourne as early as possible for a week or two after your arrival. Bring references from home to submit with any rent applications.

Choosing long term housing can be challenging. Each option is worth investigating before signing a lease agreement or paying any money.

If you plan to live in a student apartment that meets best practice requirements or in Homestay organised through VU's preferred provider, it should be safe to pay a deposit before your arrive.

You can also view information in other languages about renting in Victoria.

Remember to pack your important documents and bring your laptop. You will need computer access for your studies.

Border control

Australia has strict border security. Check the quarantine regulations for things you wish to bring with you and make sure you and your family know what can be brought or mailed into Australia. You should also check what you can bring into Australia duty-free (without paying duty or tax). If you bring a computer to Australia for your personal use and will take it out of Australia at the end of your studies, you do not need to pay duty or tax on it.

Money

Organise some Australian currency (A$500–A$1500) to bring with you for your first few days, but do not carry a large amount of cash. Have a secure way to access money while you are in Australia.

Medications

If you need to bring medication with you, also bring medical records, medical prescriptions and a letter from your doctor explaining why you need the medication. This will help an Australian doctor understand your medical history and assist you in the best possible way.

Check what medicines and substances you can bring into Australia or contact the Australian diplomatic mission in your country before you leave to confirm that the medications and the amounts you need to carry are permitted in Australia.

Prepare emotionally to leave home

Talk to someone about how you are feeling. It’s OK to feel sad, tired, excited, frustrated, unhappy and confused – maybe all at once.

Pack some items with you that will help you feel close to your family and friends, such as photos or something that has special meaning to you.

Decide how you’ll communicate with family and friends when you’re in Australia and download the apps you’ll use.

Bringing your family

If you plan to bring your family with you, there are additional costs and arrangements you will need to make.

You may find it is easier to arrive in Australia first and bring your family later. You may need to include family members in your visa application, even if they will not travel at the same time as you.

Check with the Department of Home Affairs to find out if any rules apply to these arrangements.

Learn some basic skills

Before you leave home, make sure you learn some basic skills such as how to cook, clean and do laundry.

Learn to cook simple dishes, including some of your favourites. You could video a family member cooking them and save some favourite recipes on your phone or laptop.

Learn how to clean your room and bathroom and how to wash and maintain your own clothes.

Practise listening to Australian English by viewing the Getting Connected videos. You can adjust the video speed at the bottom of the screen. You’ll discover information about VU and can practise your listening skills. You can also

  • watch Australian films and listen to Australian radio
  • take notes while you are listening to simulate a lecture situation
  • familiarise yourself with Australian and Melbourne news and events by reading online newspapers and magazines
  • become familiar with academic writing styles in Australia by reading English language academic articles, journals and textbooks
  • improve your English skills by practising writing and speaking in English.

Aussie slang

Coming to Australia includes adjusting to the Australian accent, sayings and slang that can be funny and a mystery to some people.

Australians often shorten words and add the sound 'o' and 'e' to the end of words when they are shortened. Even though most people will be speaking English around you, it can often sound like a foreign language.

This list of slang is a small introduction to some of the words you might hear. Don’t worry! Before long you can be speaking like a local, or at least understand what is being spoken.

Prepare a budget

Become familiar with the cost of living in Australia and prepare a budget for your stay in Melbourne. This will help you learn:

  • how much money you need
  • where you can afford to live
  • what you can buy.

Consider all your expenses when preparing your budget and use a currency converter to help you understand equivalent costs in your currency.

View the VU budget guidance and resources and use this budget planner.

You can also compare the prices of your weekly shopping list with products available in Australian supermarkets.

Bank Accounts

You may be able to open a bank account before you leave home.

Australia has a wide choice of banks and credit unions. You can choose a financial institution that aligns to your values (e.g. a bank that doesn't invest in fossil fuels or that runs as a co-operative), or choose one of Australia's four main banks:

Proof of identity

You will need to provide proof of identity when you open an Australian bank account.

If you are tax resident of a country other than Australia, you will be asked for your tax identification number (TIN) issued in that country, if one has been issued to you. TIN may have a different name in some countries. If you don’t have a TIN or equivalent, you will be asked to provide a reason.

In Australian, TIN is called a Tax File Number (TFN).

All wages and interest earned on savings in your Australian bank account is taxable by the Australian Government. You can reduce the amount of tax you pay by applying for a Tax File Number (TFN) after you arrive in Australia and giving it to your bank. There is no cost to apply for a TFN.

Anti money-laundering

Laws relating to anti money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing apply to all foreign currency transactions. If you bring any foreign currency into Australia or have money transferred to you from home, your Australian bank may be required to supply your personal information to the Australian Government.

If you are under the age of 18 when you apply for a student visa, you will have to meet special visa requirements regarding your welfare arrangements.

You must attend a VU under 18 international student information session. The session will help you understand your responsibilities and how to access the support services available to you.

Arriving in Melbourne

When you arrive in Melbourne you should:

  • follow the instructions to meet your driver, if you booked VU’s airport reception
  • let your family know you have arrived safely
  • make sure you have an Australian bank account
  • arrange your long term accommodation
  • contact your OSHC provider and verify your arrival date
  • attend your orientation
  • attend your under 18 international student information session, if applicable.
  • compare mobile phone costs with Finder and Canstar.

Life in Melbourne

Melbourne is a diverse and multicultural city. Moving to a new city is exciting and can be exhausting. This information will help you settle in, understand what to expect and find your way.

Victoria University acknowledges, recognises and respects the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Boonwurrung, Wadawurrung and Wurundjeri of the Kulin who are the traditional owners of University land in Victoria.

Australians are generally informal, including at VU or work. For instance, it’s common to call your lecturer or boss by their first name and use more casual words, such as “hi” instead of “hello” or “see ya” instead of “goodbye”. You’ll notice locals tend to shorten words, names and places. For instance, Australians are “Aussies”, university becomes “uni’ and Sandra might become “Sandy”.

Even though Australians are quite casual, it’s considered rude if you don’t use “please” and “thanks” or “thank you” when speaking with shop staff, or if you treat others as if they are less than important than you.

Most students in Melbourne dress casually in jeans, shirts, tops and skirts with sandals or sneakers, depending on the weather. You may need a formal set of clothes for interviews or special occasions.

Social customs

  • Don’t push ahead of others who are waiting in a queue.
  • It’s considered impolite to ask people questions about their age, income, religion or political preferences.
  • Australians generally stand about an arm’s length apart when they talk to each other and feel uncomfortable if people get too close.
  • Goods in shops are sold at a fixed price. If you pay cash for expensive goods, you can ask if a discount is available, especially if you’re buying more than one thing.
  • It’s unacceptable to squat on a toilet seat, spit, urinate or be drunk in public.
  • Sexual harassment is a serious offence. If you’re attracted to someone, you need their consent before engaging in any sexual activity.
  • It’s illegal to smoke inside a café or restaurant, public transport and public buildings. You cannot smoke on any VU campus. If you are visiting friends you should ask before smoking.

If you go to a restaurant with friends, the cost will usually be rounded up and split evenly between your group. Tipping is appreciated but not expected. It is illegal to smoke inside restaurants and cafes.

If you’re invited to someone’s house, ask the host what you should bring. You’re usually expected to bring your own (BYO) alcohol or non-alcoholic drink. It’s nice to bring a small gift, such as chocolates or a plate of food to share. If you are asked to ‘bring a plate’ that means to bring a plate of food, often to share. If you want to smoke, you should ask before smoking and you’ll generally be expected to smoke outside.

Weather

Melbourne weather can be unpredictable. Even on a single day it can be hot, cold, raining and sunny!

Make sure you pack, or be prepared to buy, a warm winter jacket for the winter season. It is best to have layered clothing (e.g. a long-sleeved top, then a jumper or two, then a jacket).

Australia has high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Too much UV radiation has serious health effects, so it’s important to protect yourself from sun damage. The weather forecast will tell you what the predicted UV level will be for the day.

Time

Use the World Clock app for iOS and Android to make sure you’re on Melbourne time, which is GMT+10.

Daylight savings is observed in Victoria so you will need to adjust your clock twice a year – turn your clock forward one hour in Spring, and back one hour in autumn.

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent and sometimes has severe water shortages. There are permanent restrictions, so it’s important to use as little water as possible.

  • Take short, 4 minute showers. Create your own playlist or use Spotify 4-minute shower songs.
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.
  • Use a plug in the sink when preparing vegetables, washing fruit or washing dishes by hand. Do not leave the water running.

Recycling & compost

You can recycle almost anything that’s made of glass, solid (firm) plastic, paper or metal. Every house or apartment should have a bin with a yellow lid for recycling, and some houses have separate bins with purple lids for glass.

Some places have a separate bin for organic waste – food scraps, vegetable peelings and leaves and cuttings from your garden.

Local councils have different recycling rules. Find out which Council you live in and check your local council webpage for exact details on the different bins at your home, and what can and can't go into each one. You can also visit RecyclingNearYou to find out how to dispose of different things.

Littering

Littering is disposing of waste in an improper way, such as dropping it in the street. It’s illegal to litter in Australia. Dispose of your waste in rubbish bins – don’t leave it on the street.

Littering includes leaving items beside an overflowing bin, under your seat at a sports stadium and on public transport, plus leaving household goods on the footpath in the hope that someone else will take them.

Public transport

Public transport Victoria (PTV), provides information about travelling in Victoria on trains, trams and buses. Download the PTV app to check travel timetables and plan your journey.

  • Metro trains helps you plan your journey by providing train timetables for each train line. The metroNotify app updates you with any changes to your train journey.
  • Vline trains travel to regional Victoria.
  • Yarra Trams’ tram tracker app gives you real time tram arrival information.
  • Night network services operate every Friday and Saturday night.
  • myki is your ticket to travel on trains, trams and buses in Melbourne.

Many international students are eligible to apply for an iUSEpass which allows you to travel at a discounted rate. Check if you’re eligible and when you arrive in Australia apply for an iUSEpass on the VU website.

If your application is approved, a code will be sent to your VU student email address. You can use this code (along with your current Melbourne postal address and photo) to register your details and buy your pass on the iUSEpass website.

Bicycles

Riding a bike is one of the best ways to cut your transport costs and keep fit at the same time. There are lots of bike paths and on-road bike lanes to keep you out of the traffic zones.

As a cyclist, you must obey the road rules and wear an approved safety helmet. Your bike has to be in good condition, with all the legal safety features such as a bell, reflectors and a light.

Let’s Ride Melbourne and VicRoads have cycling maps and general information about cycling safety on their websites. The Arevo app is a journey planner that displays colour-coded routes a rider can follow, ranging from shared cycling paths to different types of bike lanes.

Bicycle parking is available at all VU campuses and bike hubs with showers and lockers are available at both Footscray campuses.

A bike share service is available in parts of the cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra.

Cars & motorbikes

If you will live in Victoria for less than six months and hold a valid driver’s licence or permit from your country, you can drive in Australia under certain conditions.

If you will live in Victoria for six months or more and have a valid overseas driver’s licence or permit you will need to convert it to a Victorian licence within six months of arriving.

Before you begin driving in Victoria:

Victoria has strict drink-driving laws. Make sure you understand the requirements and implications for your licence and how much alcohol is in a standard drink. Know your limits.

Welfare & support services

Your safety

Melbourne is generally a safe city. In any city, it’s important that you understand what you can do to keep yourself and your belongings safe.

Police, fire and ambulance are free services you can call if there is an emergency in Australia. They are here to help everyone in the community stay safe.

Call triple zero (000) in an immediate life-threatening emergency for police, fire or ambulance.

  • Calls to triple zero (000) are free, even from your mobile phone.
  • You can call triple zero (000) even if you do not have any credit (money) on your phone.
  • When you call, stay calm and speak slowly.
  • The person on the phone will ask which service you want, police, fire or ambulance.
  • If you need an interpreter, tell the person on the phone what country you are from and what language you want to speak.
  • You can read all the questions the triple zero (000) operator will ask on the Ambulance Victoria website.

Emergency services recommend you download the Emergency Plus app. The app shows your address and location so you will always have that information available.

Fire Rescue Victoria

When you’re asleep, you can’t smell smoke. Smoke alarms save lives as they wake you and alert you to the danger from smoke and fire. By law you must have a smoke alarm where you live. All homes must have a smoke alarm on each level.

Landlords are legally responsible for installing and maintaining alarms in rental properties; tenants are responsible for testing them regularly. We recommend changing the batteries every six months, when daylight savings starts and ends.

If you live off campus in a house or flat there must be a smoke alarm. If you live in UniLodge Victoria University the smoke alarm in your room will be tested by UniLodge staff. You do not need to touch the smoke alarm.

Find more fire safety information in the fire safety flyer.

Tips from Victoria Police

  • Get to know your local area and public transport.
  • Save emergency contact numbers in your phone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and remain alert.
  • Trust your instincts, if you feel uneasy, head towards a location or situation that feels safer.
  • Never leave your belongings unattended.
  • Call 131 444 for non-urgent assistance and to find your local police station.

Read more safety information from in the Victoria Police student safety flyer.

VU has many safety resources and services to help you to be safe online, in the community and on campus.

Safer Community is VU’s central point of enquiry, response and support for concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour. This includes online behaviours and incidents that occur on or off campus. Safer Community provides support at all stages of complex and sensitive situations.

You can report an incident or seek help from Safer Community if you:

  • have safety or wellbeing concerns for yourself or someone else
  • are feeling attacked, harassed, intimidated, bullied or threatened
  • witness or have information about concerning behaviour.

Download the VUSafe app – it has safety information, tools and features to help you stay safe – and read the Australian Government's Safety Pack.

Violence, including family violence, is illegal in Australia. Victoria University does not tolerate violence in any form. VU's Counselling and Respect and Responsibility services provide resources, guidance and support if you or someone you know needs help or information. Safe Steps and 1800 Respect provide information and support in relation to family violence.

If you are in immediate danger at any time, call triple zero (000) for police, fire or ambulance.

Water safety is very important.

For the beach:

  • View the beach safety video to learn about rip currents and how to stay safe when swimming at a beach (English language, closed captions available).
  • Use the Beachsafe app and Beachsafe website to find out which beaches have life savers on duty and other important information about beaches around Australia.

For inland waterways such as rivers, creeks, lakes and dams:

Scams are designed to deceive you, generally for the purpose of stealing your money or personal details. Anyone can fall for a scam. Know the risks and take the quiz to test your knowledge.

Your health & OSHC

Staying healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly helps your brain and body function well, manage stress and prevent illness.

VU’s Health Advisor can provide medical advice, information and referrals.

Medical treatment

When you are sick in Australia you usually phone and make an appointment to visit a doctor (also called a general practitioner or GP). You can talk to a doctor online or by phone by making a telehealth appointment.

You only visit hospital if it is an emergency, or if the doctor sends you to hospital. Call Nurse-on-call on 1300 60 60 24 if you are feeling unwell but you are not sure if you should go to hospital or make an appointment with a doctor. Nurse-on-call is a free service in Victoria that is always open, even at night and on the weekends or public holidays. Phone calls are free from landline phones, although your mobile phone provider might charge you, depending on the details of your phone plan.

Allianz Care OSHC provides doctor’s appointments by phone or video. Check your OSHC provider’s website for more information.

Find health services and information online on the Better Health and Health Translations websites.

Dental treatment

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) does not cover dental services, but you can pay extra for additional coverage. Ask your OSHC provider for more information.

Some dentists may offer discounts to full-time students. Confirm when making an appointment and make sure you take your student card with you.

Melbourne University Dental Clinic is a teaching clinic and charges lower fees than most dentists. This website has a link at bottom of their page to search for a dentist by location.

It's best to have a dental check-up before leaving home.

Check if your home country has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is available while you are in Australia. Allianz Care OSHC is Victoria University’s preferred OSHC provider:

  1. Create your Allianz Care account.
  2. Download the Allianz Care app, access your e-membership card and explore the services available.

Allianz Care OSHC members have free access to Doctors on Demand, a video and phone medical consultation service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that allows you to speak to a qualified doctor.

If your OSHC is with another provider, please contact your provider directly for information about their services. Other OSHC providers include:

Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act, how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

VU provides many counselling and wellbeing resources to assist you in achieving a healthy study life balance.

You can access free, confidential (private) appointments with a counsellor as a student at VU. Find out more about the VU's counselling services, including what it is like to see a counsellor, how to make an appointment, and all the things a counsellor can help with.

Studying at VU

It is important that you understand the requirements of your course, including what is expected of you with regard to class attendance, completing and submitting assessments and course progress.

In remote (online) and face-to-face classes you will be expected to:

  • attend classes
  • prepare for classes in your own time
  • understand principles
  • think critically
  • research and analyse information
  • discuss ideas
  • solve problems
  • ask for help if you don't understand something
  • work in groups
  • contribute to discussion
  • communicate in English.

The relationship between students and staff is usually informal. It’s common for you and your teachers and lecturers to use each other’s first names. Your teacher will introduce themselves in the first class for each unit. They will tell you how they prefer you to contact them if you have questions about your class content. Use your VU student email address and include your VU student ID number when you email staff.

  • Arrive a few minutes before your class start time.
  • Keep your phone on silent.
  • If you are working on a group assignment, attend all group meetings and complete your part of the group work on time.

Your Course and Unit Advisor (CUA) is the best person to contact for administrative assistance relating to your course, units and study plan.

You must maintain satisfactory progress during each study period. Attending all your classes and seeking help from support services when you need it will give you the best chance of success in your studies.

If you need help with your studies or are at risk of making unsatisfactory progress the Learning Hubs provide English language and academic support. VU’s other free and confidential support services are available to help you adjust to study and life at VU.

Library

The VU Library Start Guide is a great place to start exploring the VU Library and all the services and resources it offers. Use the chat link to contact a librarian or ‘Ask a Librarian’ to email a question.

Your rights & responsibilities and VU's obligations

The Student Charter outlines your rights and responsibilities as a student at Victoria University.

The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework protects the rights of international students studying in Australia on a student visa. It establishes legislative requirements and standards for the quality assurance of education providers offering courses to international students who are in Australia on a student visa. ESOS also provides tuition fee protection for international students.

The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code 2018) sets nationally consistent standards for the delivery of courses to overseas students.

View the ESOS Journey for International Students.

You are responsible for making sure you have a valid visa and for meeting your visa conditions. Make sure you understand your visa entitlements and responsibilities by checking your visa documents and Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).

One of the conditions student visa holders must uphold is that you must let your education provider know your residential address within 7 days of arriving in Australia if you were outside Australia when your visa was granted. If your residential address changes, you must let your education provider know within 7 days of the change.

VU is your education provider. If you have enrolled, you can update your contact details online through MYVU.

Complaints & appeals

Victoria University’s Student Complaints Policy provides for the fair and prompt handling of student complaints in a manner that’s consistent with the University’s values. Our process encourages students to be independent and effective problem solvers. We encourage you to try to resolve your concern at the local level before lodging a complaint.

If you feel that the outcome of the University-managed complaint isn’t consistent with the prescribed grounds of the Student Appeals Regulations, you can lodge an appeal through the University's appeals process.

Working in Melbourne

Working in Australia may be different to working in your home country.

All people in Australia, including international students, have basic work rights. There are rules about what hours employees work, minimum payment and how often breaks must be taken.

If you are planning to look for part time work there are a few things you need to consider:

The FairWork Ombudsman provides free advice and assistance to help all workers understand their rights and can also help to resolve employment issues.

The Study Melbourne Student Centre International Students’ Work Rights Legal Service provides help to resolve workplace issues and advice to understand your work rights. This is a free, confidential and independent service, provided by employment lawyers, to help international students.

If you work while on your student visa, you will pay personal tax. You will be considered a ’resident for tax purposes’ after you have been living and studying in Australia for more than six months. If you work, you will need a Tax File Number (TFN). You can apply to the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) for this number.

If you work and earn money you may be required to lodge a tax return using your TFN. You may be able to receive free help to lodge your tax return.

Not all workers need an Australian Business Number (ABN). You only need an ABN if you are a contractor. Contractors usually run their own business and make their own decisions about work. They need an ABN. As an employee you only need a Tax File Number (TFN).

Employees and contractors have different rights at work. You have better rights and protections as an employee, like minimum pay. View information about ABNs & seek advice before you apply.

VU Employ offers career and job-search advice, resume help, mentoring, a jobs board and more.

Volunteering is a great way to get to know the local culture, practice English and make friends and new contacts. You can also list volunteer experiences on your resume as this experience is valued highly by employers. These websites list volunteer opportunities:

Read about the volunteer journey of a former international student who is now the International Education Project Coordinator at the City of Melbourne.

Our International Student Advisors and student support can refer you to a legal service that provides free legal advice.

Study Melbourne Student Centre’s International Student Employment and Accommodation Legal Service is a free, confidential and independent legal service, provided by lawyers, to help international students who have issues or questions about their accommodation rights and obligations.

Inner Melbourne Community Legal has created legal information for international students to help you know where to ask for help with a legal problem.

Northern Community Legal Centre provides free and confidential legal advice and assistance to people who live, work, or study in the Moreland, Hume, or Mitchell Shire local government areas.

Fines

Traffic, parking and transport related offences are the most common ways to receive a fine in Melbourne. Fines are expensive and if you don’t pay them on time you receive a penalty (fine). If you’ve received a fine and would like support, contact Student Support (Welfare).