Applying for exchange


Bored with life at Melbourne Uni? I can’t imagine you would be, but if you have an itch to explore the world during your time here, then Global Mobility is your answer!

The Global Mobility website offers all the information you need about getting the most out of your UniMelb experience with an international focus. While the site does offer information about single overseas subjects, today I will be focusing on the application process for exchange.

Trust me when I say it is a long, complicated process! However, it looks as if Global Mobility has changed and the process is now mostly online! You young whipper snappers don’t have to kill a million trees like I did back in my day.

Exchange or Study Abroad?

UniMelb has about 180 exchange partners in countries all across the globe. These exchange partners have an agreement with UniMelb, meaning they send students across to Australia, and you don’t have to pay fees to the overseas institution. Rather, you just pay the equivalent to your usual semester at UniMelb (by pay, I really mean whack it on your HECS debt).

If none of these institutions grab your fancy – say, you want to go to Harvard – then your best bet is to look into Study Abroad. I personally went through exchange so I don’t know much about this process, but from my understanding you have to apply directly to the overseas institution and pay them rather than UniMelb.

Alrighty, now what?

Book yourself into a myWorld First Step session! These sessions will offer you an overview of the exchange application process and requirements, as well as showing you a few promotional videos to suck you into the experience. What’s more, attending the session is a requirement for your application process. You can tick that one off the list right away!

Am I eligible?

UniMelb requires you to have completed at least one year of full time study before going on exchange, but keep in mind that you have to apply six to twelve months in advance. So you can apply in first semester of your first year, but you will be applying to go on exchange for the first semester of your second year.

You are also required to have an average score on your academic record of 65%. However, keep in mind the higher your average is, the more likely you are to a) get into your first choice of exchange, and b) receive scholarships.

Get some advice:

After this I would recommend booking in with an exchange advisor. The advisors are assigned to specific geographical areas, so have a think about where you want to go and shoot them an email.

Initially all I knew was that I wanted to go somewhere in central Europe, so I went and saw the advisor for that area.

Attending the Global Mobility fair and talking to people who have been on exchange is also a fantastic way to get the feel of the university you want to go to. I was sold to Prague as soon as I talked to a previous exchange student and they told me how cheap it was!

Decide where you want to go:

So many choices! When considering where I wanted to go before talking to advisor, I considered the following:

  • Do I want to travel? For me this was a major yes, hence my decision to head to central Europe.
  • Do I need classes to be in English? Again, yes. This narrowed down my choices, as some universities only teach in the local language.
  • Can the university cater for my course? Some institutions are also specific to certain disciplines (Copenhagen Business School, for instance, is only good for Commerce students) while others cover all degrees.

With these in mind, I headed to the exchange advisor, who was wonderful in suggesting some institutions to me, and even began helping me find subjects!

However, keep in mind here you need to choose THREE universities, and preference them accordingly. Most universities have a set number of students they will accept from UniMelb, and as a result some students may not get into their first preference due to high demand (America and England are very popular). These decisions will come down to academic merit. Hence why you need three choices!

Make a study plan:

This is by far the most tedious and time-consuming part of the process. Either that, or I just spent way too much time researching subjects (#artslife).

In order to receive the correct credit for your degree while overseas, you will need to get subjects approved by the appropriate people from within you faculty, or from another faculty in the case of breadth.

The best way to do this is to talk to your faculty advisor.

Arts is a particularly difficult area to navigate due to all the different majors! Get as many subjects as you can approved, as you may find that you have clashes or some subjects are not running when you arrive at your destination.

Most subjects will be credited as being equivalent to a particular major at a particular level (eg. Criminology level 3) while others may be able to be approved as a direct equivalent. However, that is up for your and the advisor to agree upon.

Get your dollars in order and sell yourself:

As well as completing the (now online) application form, you are required to demonstrate that you have the appropriate levels of funds to survive your time abroad.

What’s more, you also have to write an exchange essay about why you want to go on exchange. In other words, write about how amazing you are and why you want to travel the as much as possible learn so much from their university.

You’ll also need to get an academic reference (ask your favourite tutor) and MAKE SURE THEY USE THE UNIVERSITY LETTERHEAD. My boyfriend and I both had issues with chasing up tutors about not adhering to this request.

Submit and wait… and wait…

Yup, once you’ve submitted your application to the appropriate people it’s time to twiddle your thumbs. I’ll be honest, there is A LOT of waiting during the exchange process, and a lot of that is dependent on the university you apply for. So I highly recommend researching flights and visa requirements as soon as you know what university you have been nominated to.

And lastly, good luck! I have tried to cram as much information as possible into this post, yet I feel that I have probably skimped out on a lot! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact your faculty advisor, Global Mobility, or email myself (clarkrj[at] And if you’ll excuse me, I am off to embark on my semester abroad!

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