Here you will find comprehensive information about the generic queries like:
- What is the right process to secure admission at Australian Universities
- What are the prospect opportunities of Scholarships in Australian Universities,
- IELTS/TOEFL and its preparation,
- General tips of writing a Research Proposal
- Processing Visa Application
1) Right process of admission at Australian Universities
Generally students are prudent of university ranking; the recent list of top 200 Universities around the world may be an ample source of ‘good universities’; where you may start seeking admission. But good practice is to secure admission according to area of interest rather than ranking of a university! For further information please follow this link.
Generally admission process in Australian Universities can be carried either of two tracks:
- Through Proper Channel (TPC) or
- International Office (IO)
Usually if you are interested in research degree (Masters/PhD) it is advised to go through TPC process. TPC process can be summarized as; assuming that at broader level keywords of your area of interest are ready for example; Image Processing, Speech Recognition, Emotion Recognition, Synthesize of Digital Filters, Wireless Sensor Networks, Biomedical Signals Processing, Software Radios, 3G/4G Networks, Control & Instrumentation etc (All these keywords are relevant to the electrical and electronics engineering).
Hunting a suitable supervisor is the next critical step. There isn’t typical guideline for finding a research supervisor. But few general observations that may be helpful are:
- An obvious one is relevancy to the area of interest (if you are clear about your field of interest )
- His publications record in last five years
- Achievements in the sense of funding secured, journal publications with good impact factor, number of research students supervised, or any other outstanding performance
- Currently posses funding project?
- Job title is less important!
Realistically speaking a good supervisor is one of the blessings of Allah. Process of hunting a research supervisor would become easy, if you short list the universities. Again there is not a typical criterion of short listing the universities. But some general factors that may help out are:
- Strong Research Group (obviously relevant to your area of interest),
- Research Funding/Scholarships opportunities,
- Ranking of the University (a good ranked university has more resources generally),
- Research Potential (can be observed from the publications record)
- Environmental conditions
- Research Labs and Equipment
- University – industry linkage (will increase chances of working with real-time industrial projects)
Preparing the universities list on priority basis helps you a lot in sorting the supervisor. Why? If you look closely, in sorting the universities, you are basically looking for a good supervisor and research potential. So in research degree the most important factor is a research supervisor rather than university. Isn’t it? Obviously we can not ignore other factors at all like university ranking.
How will you get this information? Well, the direct source is start reading faculty member’s profiles that are normally available at universities web sites; you should shortlist 5-10 supervisors’ on priority basis. Keeping track of the priority, start banging one-by-one and keep it continuous until you get positive consent of any (if you are lucky enough ). Of positive consent means you are eligible to put his/her name in admission application as supervisor & send all the scanned certificates/testimonials to international office for further process by email. Normally no need to send the documents by ordinary mail, exception may be.
Every Australian University has International Office (IO) portal where you can directly submit an admission application in any program for example undergraduate, postgraduate, associate diplomas etc. In our case it should be research degree i.e., Masters or PhD. International Office is responsible to send your admission application to prescribed school. School will process your admission application (AP) among all academics related to your area of interest mentioned in AP. On positive consent of any supervisor from the relevant school information will be passed to international office.
Eventually, international office will send you an offer letter mentioning the supervisor’s name and project title. Prospect project and supervisor given by school (here school means institute) may not be a good experience; the only disadvantage of IO process! But don’t worry, process of taking another supervisor is very easy and you can do it at any stage of your PhD candidature. It is your choice and comfort. No one will bother you and no legs pulling at all. But be careful, if in case you feel uncomfortable, change of supervisor decision should be taken on the basis of ground realities. Because on arrival, it is very difficult to judge the right person to whom you will be associated for four years, normally that is going to decide your career road map after all. Consultation with current students and your critical judgment in regular meetings are important factors. Worth considerable is availability of another supervisor who has good reputation technically and administratively. And he is ready to accommodate you as research student in any of his current project. In either case you will find yourself in middle of no where!
2) Scholarships deadline and amount
Postgraduate International Students (research only) can take benefit of two major scholarships offered by Australian Government known as; International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) and International Research Scholarship (IRS); IRS is specified with university name as RUIRS (RMIT University IRS). One covers the stipend and other tuition fees plus health cover (Medibank). Currently stipend amount is AUD 25000/- (tax free). Number of these scholarships in each university varies and solely depends upon the university ranking, strength, scope of subjects, and many other factors. Deadline of these scholarships’ is October 30 every year.
Essential requirements of these scholarships are Admission, IELTS (6.5 generally), strong CGPA, Research Proposal and Research Publications (if possible). Undergraduate third and fourth year GPA makes a lot of difference. It should be more than 3.8, normally. Two or more research publications in any journal/refereed conference/ book chapter(s) would strengthen your application. Arrangement of proper reference letters at right time is also an important task. For further details please follow this link.
Endeavour scholarships are also awarded for postgraduate studies by research (Be careful these scholarships are not same as IPRS). You can find the detailed information at following link. Application for second round of Endeavour scholarships 2011 will close on 31st Jan, 2011. Hurry up and take the advantage of this opportunity if you read this article before this date.
3) IELTS Requirement and Preparation
IELTS/ TOEFL are a mandatory Australian Visa condition. Study in any type of program you would need to submit the IELTS or TOEFL score. Minimum requirements of IELTS/TOEFL are given below:
- IELTS – 6.5+ (no band less than 6.0)
- TOEFL – Paper based = 580+ (TWE4.5+)
- TOEFL – Computer based = 237+ (TWE4.5+)
Next important step is how to get prepared for these tests? Truly speaking, these tests are not very tough but not trivial as well. You need to spare specific time for the preparation that may be 2 – 6 hours daily for few weeks that is worth requirement. For an average/above average student it is advised to purchase IELTS Cambridge book set and start preparation at your own. A burnt DVD of IELTS Model Tests and some extra material are provided with Cambridge Book set. Even if you feel difficulty, you can have 1-3 (hourly) meetings with your seniors (who has already done IELTS/TOEFL etc) or any English Tutor. If this doesn’t work you may join any English Language Center that may guide you in all four components.
Remember, there are two types of IELTS tests i.e., academic and general. For study purpose you need to get registered for academic test only and general test if acceptable for immigration purpose. For further information of IELTS requirement please follow this link.
For IELTS registration and examination please follow the link.
4) Research Proposal Tips and Tactics
Initially, one-two pages research proposal may be required with admission application. It can be arranged with the consultation of prospect supervisor if you have attempted ‘through proper channel’ admission process. In either case you can submit any pervious research work that clearly indicates your prospect area of interest like; undergraduate/Postgraduate thesis/project. This topic needs an independent blog that I will post at later stage.
5) Visa Application Process
Due to high level of misinterpretation and ambiguity, it is presumed that visa and admission applications should be processed through agents as he/she will protect you at all stages & 100% success rate is guaranteed! It is speculation more than reality that agents will do all your works because he is removing the substantial amount from your pocket. But embarrassing situation occurs when they only pass information from one place to another and act as mediocre. It is no surprise that you would be asked to fill out every form and handover them in a courier envelope as they can send it on your behalf. Developing a strong bridge between you & Australian High Commission in Pakistan is the important role of agents in addition to sending all your information via courier service i.e., TCS. It is advised to process ‘Visa’ and ‘Admission’ application directly. You should get help from Australian Immigration website properly (www.immi.gov.au) for properly visa application submission. All updated information is available at this website, even agents are supposed to visit this website for proper guidance.
Tayab Memon received a BE (Hons) Electronics Engineering (First Class) and a PG Diploma Telecommunication and Control Engineering (First Class) from Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Jamshoro, Pakistan, in 2003 and 2006 respectively. He worked as lecturer in Mehran University of Engineering & Technology from Sept, 2004 – June 2008. He is currently working towards his PhD at RMIT University, Melbourne Australia. His research interests include short word length DSP Systems and their FPGA-based implementation.
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