Choosing to study in Australia is an exciting step in your life journey. 

At UNSW Sydney, we want to help you understand the cost of living in Sydney in advance, as well as how to be in the best financial position possible. This includes knowing what support may be available to you and what opportunities you may have to work and earn money while you’re studying.

Let’s take a look at some average expenses you can expect, as well as ways you can improve your financial situation while you study in Sydney.


Living costs in Sydney

Being able to afford your living expenses is not only important for your wellbeing, but also necessary for you to be able to study in Australia.

As an international student, the Department of Home Affairs has financial requirements you must meet to receive your student visa. From 10 May 2024, a single student must show they have the financial capacity to cover the living costs of at least $29,710 AUD per year.

Your personal expenses will vary depending on your lifestyle and where you choose to live. Students can live modestly on campus for roughly AUD $25,000 per year while studying, whereas a student living in an apartment by themselves who goes out often can spend an estimated AUD $38,000 per year or more.

Here are some average weekly Sydney living expenses you can expect while studying at UNSW. This is a guide only, and costs will vary depending on your choices and needs.

Of course, there are many ways to reduce your living expenses. Consider your needs and budget when you decide where you live and what kind of lifestyle you can afford.

You can use this tool to explore general weekly expenses comparing a shared house, living on your own, or living on campus, as well as ideas on how you can save on your living costs.

There are many ways UNSW can help you cope with unexpected financial hardship, such as interest-free student loans and support grants. Keep reading and explore all the options that you have.

Financial support for international students

At UNSW, we have a number of financial support options for eligible international students to help you manage your expenses. And if you experience hardship or simply need a little advice to manage your finances, help is available.

  • We offer a wide range of UNSW scholarships and awards to international students that can contribute up to the full amount of your tuition fees. Our scholarships aren’t based solely on academic merits, and it’s easy to apply – some of them don’t even require a separate application. 

    “A huge burden was lifted off my shoulders when I received the scholarship offer. Being able to save some money and not worry about the living costs really helped me a lot. I can focus better on my studies and my involvement in different student clubs at UNSW.” 
    - Aziz Mehedi, UNSW International Scientia Coursework Scholarship Recipient 2020
    Some of the most popular scholarships and awards for international students are:
    • International Scientia Coursework Scholarship: Receive full tuition fee scholarship, or a $20,000 (AUD) per year contribution to tuition fees, plus exclusive professional development opportunities.
    • Australia's Global University Award: Receive a one-off award of $10,000 towards your tuition fees in the second term of the first year of study.
    • UNSW College Award: Receive a one-off award of $10,000 towards your tuition fees in the second term of the first year of study when you successfully complete a UNSW College Foundations program and progress to a bachelor’s degree at UNSW. 
    • International Student Award: Receive a 15% contribution towards tuition fees for the duration of your program if you start studying at UNSW in 2024.

    There are terms and conditions that apply to the UNSW Scholarships and Awards. Please refer to the UNSW Scholarship website for more information. You are encouraged to explore scholarship opportunities offered by UNSW faculties from this website. 

    A number of Australian organisations also offer scholarships for international students. You can also explore scholarships offered by the Australian Government or with your home government.

  • UNSW welcomes sponsored students from around the world. 

    Sponsored students are international students who receive funding to study at UNSW from an approved sponsoring authority. Sponsorship can cover tuition and living expenses, depending on the agreement. 

    If you wish to become a sponsored student, you will need to organise and secure your own sponsorship and then apply to study at UNSW as a sponsored student. There are certain documents that we require from your sponsor, which you can find from the link below.

  • Managing your own financial situation as a young adult is exciting, but sometimes it can be a bit tricky. Don’t worry, we’re here to support you while you study – and that includes your financial situation.

    • Want to know how to make your dollar go further while you study? Book an appointment with our Student Support Advisers and get practical financial advice and money management skills that are relevant to being a uni student in Australia. 

    • We understand that life doesn’t always go to plan. If you experience unexpected financial hardship, you may consider applying for a payment plan.

      Payment Plans can allow you to pay tuition on an agreed installment plan when you experience unforeseen or exceptional circumstances. Applications are assessed by our Student Financials Team on a case-by-case basis, and there are terms and conditions that apply. 

      More about Fee Payment Plan

    • If you find yourself in a tricky financial situation and need a little help to cover costs, you may be eligible for financial aid. We offer student loans that charge no interest to pay back, and support grants for essential living costs which you don’t have to pay back at all.

      Find out eligible criteria for UNSW Student loans and UNSW Student support grants

    There are more that we offer to help you to stay on top of your finances, so make sure you explore our financial aid options. 

    Find out more

Working while studying in Australia

Earning an income while you study can help pay your living expenses. It’s also a great way to get valuable experience, connect with the community and enjoy the local culture. As an international student, you should be able to work on an Australian Student Visa if you choose, however restrictions will apply. It’s important that you understand the rules for your visa, as well as knowing your rights in the workplace before you join the Australian labour force.

  • Want to work while you study in Sydney? As a Student Visa holder, you can work for up to 48 hours every fortnight during term time (unless you are a PhD and masters by research student), and unlimited hours during your holiday breaks. Work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 48 hours per fortnight. Voluntary, unpaid work may not be included in the limit if it meets certain criteria. 

  • Australian workers are protected by a number of laws and employment standards. International students working in Australia are also protected by these laws and have the same workplace rights.

    As a worker, you automatically receive basic minimum entitlements known as National Employment Standards (NES). These standards include things like maximum weekly hours of work and leave entitlements. You must be paid at least the minimum wage. As of 1 July 2023, the National Minimum Wage is $23.23 per hour before tax. You must also receive a payslip which outlines your earnings and how much tax you have paid.

    The Fair Work Ombudsman is the official government body that protects employee’s rights at the workplace. If you believe you are not receiving your minimum rights and conditions at work or having workplace issues, call the Fair Work Infoline at 13 13 94 for free information and advice. Remember, visa holders can seek help without fear of visa cancellation, even if they've breached their work-related visa conditions. For more information, see Visa Protections - Assurance Protocol.

  • Working while holding a student visa comes with strict rules. 

    Remember, while on a student visa, your studies must remain your priority. You have a duty to comply with the full-time study and satisfactory academic progress requirements of your visa. Be careful not to allow any work to impact your academic performance as your enrolment (CoE) may be cancelled for poor grades. A CoE is necessary for your student visa.

    Understand visa conditions

    To work in Australia, you must apply for an Australian Tax File Number and your income is subject to Australian tax obligations. For more information, please visit the Australian Taxation Office website.

    Top tip: It’s illegal to accept your salary ‘cash-in-hand’ - tax must have been deducted from your earnings before your employer pays you.

    More about tax information

  • Now you understand your working rights and obligations as an international student in Sydney and you are studying at the best Australian university for employment outcomes*, where can you find job opportunities?

    Explore our UNSWConnect jobs board, where you can access hundreds of part-time, full-time, internship, and graduate opportunities globally. 

    Our dedicated UNSW Employability team offers a range of employment and career support opportunities including the Professional Development Program that is exclusive to international students, career coaching program, networking and skills development programs and other job opportunities, along with resources to help you develop your career.

    Our faculties also have career support to help you launch your career prior to graduation, such as Career Accelerator @ UNSW Business School and UNSW Law & Justice careers service.

    The NSW Government also started an initiative to help international students find a job in Australia, including Masterclasses and Industry Experience. You can find more information on the NSW Jobs Connect for International Students here

    *QS World University Rankings, 2024

Discover how we can help you meet your cost of living needs while you are studying in Australia and grow your career with confidence.

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