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What’s in this section
This section provides information about English Language
Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) institutions
and courses, as well as foundation and preparatory courses, and
the institutions that provide them.
It is also worth noting that many TAFE institutes and private
colleges offer diploma-level courses that provide entry to, and
credit towards, a university degree and therefore may offer an
alternative to foundation and preparatory courses for many
students. Note: course and fee information in this section is
ELICOS courses are designed to improve your ability to speak,
write and read English confidently. Many also prepare you for the
different types of tests that are specifically designed to measure
English proficiency. They are taught in several different kinds of
institutions, such as high schools, TAFE institutes, private
colleges and universities.
Some institutions offer only one ELICOS course, but most
have several at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Some also offer ‘special purpose’ courses — for example,
English for business, English for travel or English for tourism and
All institutions listed here are on the Commonwealth Register
of International Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). This
means that their courses are regarded by the Australian
Government as being of an appropriate standard to be offered to
For more information, visit the CRICOS website at
Foundation and preparatory courses
Like ELICOS courses, foundation and preparatory courses are
offered by different types of institutions, including universities,
TAFE institutes and private colleges.
Foundation and preparatory courses prepare you for entry
into university. Many include a ‘provisional’ place in a higher
education course, meaning you are guaranteed entry to a
particular course at a particular institution if you do well enough.
Most foundation and preparatory courses run for one academic
year (late February to late October), while others are shorter.
Many universities and some other institutions also offer
‘bridging’ courses. These are also designed to help you get into
courses, but are usually short and are often held over the
summer period. They aim to get you up to the required standard
in subjects like maths, science or English.
To gain entry into a foundation or a preparatory course you
may need to have completed or nearly completed your end-of-
school certificate in your own country. You will also need to meet
set standards for written and spoken English. The exact
requirements vary from one course or institution to another.
What to look for
Some things you should look for when choosing a course and
help available when you first arrive in Australia (airport
reception, accommodation and meeting people)
other help (with housing, financial matters or personal
problems) whenever you need it
assistance with learning English
activities like sport, social events and trips.
All of the institutions and courses listed here are on the
CRICOS register, which gives you an assurance that they
meet minimum standards.
Do not enrol in a course unless you have made sure that it
can qualify you for the institution and course you want.
As noted above, foundation and preparatory courses often
come with a ‘provisional place’, which means that you know
exactly what you have to do to be accepted into the degree. If
you do not have a provisional place (which is usually the
case with Year 11 and 12 courses and with some others)
then you can’t be sure of getting into a degree which
institution or course it will be. It will all depend on how well
you do and how much competition there is to get into that
institution or course.
Most courses are advertised as ‘year-long’, but the actual
number of weeks of study may vary from less than 30 to
English language tests
In Australia, there are different tests that Australian education
institutions and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship
(DIAC) use to benchmark international students’ English-
speaking ability. The main ones are:
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
This system is specifically designed to measure the English
proficiency of international students wishing to go on to further
education in an English-speaking country. It is used by most
Australian education institutions. For more detailed information
on IELTS, visit the website at www.ielts.org.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
This language test (of English as it is used in North America) is an
acceptable qualification at education institutions throughout the
English-speaking world and can be used by applicants from
selected countries to meet English language requirements in
Australia. More information can be found online at
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