public_school_in_class-300x280While talking to my clients I often get asked about the cost and possibilities of sending their children to school. In this article I would like to discuss a scenario when the main applicant holds a student visa while their child holds a dependant student visa. Usually that covers parents holding visa subclass 570 – 575 (except for subclass 571).

Therefore if you study an English course (subclass 570) or trying to graduate with Diploma in one of the Vocational courses (subclass 572) and your kid is at least 5 year old then this situation will apply to you.

Why do I have an obligation to send my kids to school?

Apart from general law policies all student visa holders have a condition 8517 imposed on their student visa. It means that ‘the holder must maintain adequate arrangements for the education of any school-age dependant of the holder who is in Australia for more than 3 months. Therefore coming with you family for a couple of weeks to improve everybody’s English does not mean any study obligation.

In Australia children must commence their education by the time the child turns 6 years old. The age students are permitted to leave school varies by jurisdiction, however, in all States/Territories students must remain in education, either at school or through some combination of training and employment, until the age of 17. Keep in mind that this covers citizens as well as all visa holders.

The person that turned 17 but not 18, and then underage are not required to enrol in a school. However, in this case a primary visa applicant (a parent) is still required to provide evidence of sufficient funds for school costs. At the time of writing this amounts to $8,000 AUD anually.

The following a structure of Australian education in each age bracket:

Primary Education:

  • Kindergarten: 3 – 5 years
  • Year 1: 6 – 7 years
  • Year 2: 7 – 8 years
  • Year 3: 8 – 9 years
  • Year 4: 9 – 10 years
  • Year 5: 10 – 11 years
  • Year 6: 11 – 12 years
  • Year 7: 12 – 13 years (South Australia, Western Australia)

Secondary Education:

  • Year 7: 12 – 13 years (other states)
  • Year 8: 13 – 14 years
  • Year 9: 14 – 15 years
  • Year 10: 15 – 16 years i 17 years (depending on study mode)
  • Year 11: 16 – 17 years
  • Year 12: 17 – 18 years

There are 3 types of schools in Australia (primary and secondary):

– public

– Catholic

– private

I will focus on the first type as it is the most affordable and yet provides a high standard of education.

Keep in mind that the whole school application process is not handled by schools themselves but by the relevant unit of the Department of Education and Training in each state. In NSW all responsibilities in relation to international students are dealt with by DE International.

At the time of adding your child to your application, you are required to attach a ‘certificate of enrolment’ issued by the school. In case the school did not give permission to issue such document before visa grant and arrival in Australia, a ‘letter of offer’ is considered sufficient.

In the table below I have listed 2015 & 2016 Education Fee rates for dependants of international students for a 12 month period (40 school weeks).

School fees in AUD*:


* The fees do not include enrolment fees, school trips, uniform fees, etc. Source:

Your child’s education while holding a student visa, as you can see above, is not cheap as you can see on above example. It can seriously hurt student’s tight budget. On the other hand, for other temporary visa holders (e.g. 457) the fees are much lower. Obviously if you are a citizen or permanent resident these fees are just nominal.

Although the fees above relate to schools in NSW you should expect to pay similar rates across the country. You can be also exempt from the fees as long you have a low income. An application has to be made in writing and it will be processed on case by case basis depending on your family’s annual gross income. Stawki przedstawione powyżej dotyczą NSW, jednak w innych stanach należy spodziewać się podobnych opłat.

If you want to bring your little one with you to Australia, he or she will benefit from it in many ways. A massive improve of English language skills, being part in modern & multicultural society plus high standard of education are mix that only few countries in the world can offer.