I received an offer of admission from one of the Australian Universities in Perth. My supervisor recommended my application for tuition fee waive off scholarship and university has accepted that. I have to manage my cost of living and travel expenditure. I am not sure that I will be able to manage my cost of living and travel expenses by doing part-time work. So I will be highly obliged if you can provide necessary information so that I can take a decision. Thanks...

  • What does tuition fee waive off scholarship mean?
    – user2768
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:29
  • 1
    PhD tuition fee is waived sounds like you're getting a discount.
    – user2768
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:30
  • 9
    You should not pursue a PhD if you cannot get a stipend. Check housing costs, they can be very high in Australia. Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:53
  • 4
    @AnonymousPhysicist indeed and I don't know for Australia, but ppl on a student visa might not be allowed to work
    – Emilie
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 14:21
  • 1
    Probably "waive off" is a confounding of "waive" and "wave off"... Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 23:24

2 Answers 2


It is next to impossible.

I cannot say about Perth, but in Sydney you need at least 15,000 AUD per year to cover your living expenses, assuming you share a room. The minimal salary in Australia is roughly 30,000 AUD per year, and as a low-skilled worker you cannot get a salary much higher than this. This means you will have to work at least a half of your time. Then it is unclear how you will be able to focus on your PhD project and become a good scientist.

In Perth, it is likely to be even worse. Perth is more expensive than the other Australian big cities, although salaries may be higher there as well.

Getting a job in Australia is not easy. I've read that according to unemployment statistics, those people who get unemployment benefits spend about half a year on average to find a new job. If you are a foreigner, and if your language skills are far from ideal, you are at a considerable disadvantage in the job market.

On top of that, there may be restrictions on the number of hours you are allowed to work as a student.

However, if your aim is not to become a scientist, but to migrate to Australia, and if you are prepared to face three years of very hard life, it might work for you, but you've got to know what you are doing. If you live in Australia for three years as a PhD student, you may be able to find a legal way to remain in Australia after your PhD program (e.g., by getting a job). Your Australian PhD degree will be a plus. Remember, however, that you cannot become an Australian permanent resident and later get Australian citizenship simply by legally staying in Australia for a certain number of years. I know people who lived in Australia for almost a decade on temporary working visas and were unable to get the status of permanent resident. The common ways of getting that status are to marry a permanent resident or get a long-term working contract whose end date is more that 3 years after the starting date. You have to be a really valuable worker to find an employer who agrees to sign such a long contract with you.

If you want to pursue an academic career, my advice is to find any place in the world where you can get a PhD stipend that will allow you to fully focus on science. If you have a good academic record, this should not be a problem. Many professors have funds on their grants and need good PhD students.

  • 1
    Thank you so much for your valuable advice. If this is the case, then I may need to drop the idea. But my supervisor was telling me that I may get teaching assistant-ship which can help me to bear my living expenses. But as you have narrated the fact that part-time work or teaching assistant-ship may affect my PhD work and even I am not sure that will I be able to get at least AUD 20000 in a year or not? thanks
    – Tanmay
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 4:01
  • @Tanmay If your goal is to get into academia, TA work during your PhD would be very helpful because it’d let you refine your teaching skills at the same time as you’re refining your skills as a researcher through your PhD, and teaching and research are the two primary skills of an academic.
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 6:25
  • @Tanmay You should do the math. Ask the supervisor how certain it is that you will get a teacher assistant job and how much money it will bring you as well as how many hours per week you can work as a teacher assistant. Do research on the Internet about cost of living in Perth. Perth is the most expensive Australian big city. I've heard that prices are really crazy there. You need to have accurate figures for housing and food costs in Perth. For Sydney, 15,000 AUD per year is the absolute minimum. And you have to be prepared to share an accommodation (a room or a small studio).
    – Sandra
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 7:07
  • @Tanmay If you elect to accept the PhD project offer in Perth, you will have to make savings before coming to Australia. An air ticket to Australia costs ~1,000 AUD (depending on where you live now), and you will also need to cover your hotel costs for the initial period during which you will be looking for a long-term accommodation. And I do not know how easy or difficult it will be for you to find a part-time job in Perth. It depends on your English level and many other factors. You will have to use your savings before you get a job.
    – Sandra
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 7:42
  • @Tanmay It is quite possible to successfully complete a PhD project while working half-time. The problem, however, will be that you won't have many publications and won't have learned many things that you can learn by full-time research job. It is only when your mind is fully occupied by science that you can become a great scientist. If your mind is occupied by your part-time job and counting every dollar, your research work will be rather "mechanistic," i.e., you will do only the minimum required to complete your PhD project. You simply won't develop skills that make a great scientist
    – Sandra
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 7:48

It would be impossible...

I’ve lived in Aus as an international student and submitted my PhD 4 weeks ago with a stipend, a top-up scholarship and a fee waiver. Even with that, it was a struggle at the best of times.

The cost of living is extremely high i.e. rent, food etc.

They have strict regulations regarding your work hours during study time which would make living here a struggle.

If you had a stipend, I would say “go for it and don’t look back” and also work part-time to get by. Otherwise, I would say approach with caution.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. As per my offer letter, school will cover my tuition fee. I have to take care rest of the things such as health insurance, living expenses and travelling cost. My supervisor was telling that I may get teaching assistant-ship which can help to bear my living expenses. But as per your suggestion, it seems that it would be a really challenging job if I don't get full-scholarship which will include everything. Actually getting a response from a PhD supervisor is really difficult. That is why; I was thinking about the offer. thanks
    – Tanmay
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 4:13
  • I may be wrong but I thought it was compulsory for the university to provide overseas health cover for international students as a bare minimum? Again, the details escape me so I can’t be certain. Good luck. Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 4:15
  • Actually on my supervisor recommendation, school has waived off my 4 years PhD tuition fees. But as I didn't get Australian post graduate research award, so I didn't get full scholarship which will include stipend, top-up, fee-waiver and health insurance. That is the reason, I posted the question that by doing teaching assistant-ship, part-time limited hours work, can I manage my cost of living in Perth or not? Thanks for your response...
    – Tanmay
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 5:10
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    To be frank, I don’t think it is possible to manage without a stipend. Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 8:11

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