Hello, everyone! In this story, I would like to share my experience with you, which I hope will be very useful to those who are not indifferent to Australia, namely studying and living in this beautiful country. I will talk about my experience of getting a PhD (research student) position at the Australian university, the requirements, the process of admission, the cost, etc. Make yourself comfortable and brew some tea. I tried to make this article as interesting and informative as I could — I will cover everything from submitting an application to obtaining a visa and the arrival to Australia. Let’s go!

How did I find my path?

To be honest, the thought of getting a PhD was already in my head during the second semester of a master's program in Canada. I had to start looking for a job, but somehow I was terribly depressed that my student life was coming to an end, and I was very unwilling to part with it.

I decided to not overthink it, went online and began to search where to go next in order to realize this desire of mine. But I looked for specific offers, since I was looking, first of all, for a position with a scholarship. I didn't have much money and my parents, I think, have already helped me more than enough.
My search for suitable universities in Europe went with alternating success, and then I remembered the countries that had attracted me for a long time. These were the countries of Oceania — Australia and New Zealand. The lists of universities in these countries are posted online, it was not difficult to find them, it was only necessary to familiarize yourself with the website of each university in order to find the position in the research group that would be interesting to me.

Eventually, I found the university that seemed like the best fit. It was the Macquarie University, in Sydney. I chose it because I wanted to combine my qualifications as an engineer specializing in microelectronics with wireless communication systems. I wrote about this in a letter that I sent to a university professor. I was lucky because he had similar interests.
They sent me a description of the project, which was carried out by the university in collaboration with a major industrial partner. It was a manufacturer of all kinds of high-frequency integrated circuits. The topic was related to the development of a processor monitor for gallium arsenide based microcircuits. That is, it was necessary to create such a circuit that would determine the state of the processor by signals, and could reject the chip if necessary. In a letter from the professor, I was asked to write a research proposal on this topic.
Just a couple of days to read the articles on this topic and my proposal was complete. Apparently, it was highly appreciated, as the professor suggested that I start the application procedure for the university.

What was required to enter the university?

As I already said, I was interested in the position that came with the scholarship. And to get it, a lot was expected from the candidate:
  • Good academic performance;
  • Article publications;
  • Research experience;
  • Student recommendations from two teachers.
Such requirements didn’t really scare me. I published an article on the topic of my master's thesis, I passed the second examination and had an impressive score at the distinction level (more than 70%), and I quickly found two teachers who would recommend me. Everything went as it should and all that remained was to wait for the result of the dissertation itself, which I was still writing.

Then I dug into the papers and began to collect what was required of me:
  1. Certified copy of the passport;
  2. Officially certified translation of engineering and bachelor's degrees;
  3. Application forms for participation in the scholarship program;
  4. Language certificate (I had IELTS);
  5. Transcript;
  6. Letter of admission to the current university;
  7. A letter of recommendation from a former employer
So, I collected all of the documentation and sent it via express mail. Almost a month of impatient waiting and I receive a letter stating that they are happy to accept me into their ranks and pay me the scholarship. "Hooray!" — I exclaimed, but there was one condition — the grade for my current dissertation should not be lower than distinction otherwise, the agreement was void.
This did not bother me, I started working on the unfinished project with even greater enthusiasm and zeal.
I submitted it in early September. According to its policy, the university could announce its assessment only after a month and a half, so I had to wait again…

How did I get a visa and what was required from me?

I returned to my home in Moscow from Canadian soil already with a full "stack" of documents in order to get a student visa to Australia. Indeed, I was not in a hurry to apply for it just yet, because no one was waiting for me in Sydney without a good result for a dissertation. Therefore, I patiently waited for the meeting with the examination committee, and when I saw the results my eyes sparkled.
The result was over 70%. Gotcha! A letter from a Canadian university, which confirmed my receipt of a place, was useful for resolving the issue of obtaining a visa.
To get a PhD candidate's position, the following was required:
  1. International passport;
  2. The number from the same official letter confirming my receipt of the position;
  3. Medical insurance for the full period of study;
That's all for now. Then I applied through the website: I uploaded a photo, scanned passport and scans of signed questionnaires. No financial guarantees were required.
When submitting documents online, I was informed that I would need to undergo a medical examination at an authorized center. It is paid, the cost was about 10 thousand rubles. The main requirement is to get an all clear on a tuberculosis test. Your lungs will be checked and if everything is in order, the results can be sent to Australia.

They will start considering your application as soon as they receive the envelope. In my case, it took less than a month. I received a long-awaited letter to my e-mail. I just had to show up at the embassy in order to paste a visa into my passport, and I could get ready to go to study.

TL;DR: I was a little tired of all this paperwork, but the hardest part was waiting. However, overcoming obstacles is quite a useful experience.
Australia was waiting for me. In the second part, I will talk about my studies at Macquarie University. It will get even better.