Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

Student Exchange Australia New Zealand Ltd wants you to feel well informed about our programs. Here’s a sample of our most frequently asked questions and our answers. If you want further info or have further questions, please call us, for the cost of a local call, on 1300 135 331 (in Australia) or 0800 440 079 (in New Zealand) or chat to us via social media.

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Is my country of choice guaranteed?

Yes. Unlike other exchange organisations we guarantee your country of choice provided you meet all normal eligibility criteria and there are places available.

Am I eligible to apply to go on exchange?

If you meet our eligibility requirements then, yes!, you can apply with confidence.  Click here to take our 'Am I Eligible' quiz.

 Are there language requirements?

There are no formal language requirements for most of our destination countries. However, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, French speaking Canada & Switzerland  require you to have some prior language experience.  Check our language requirements page for full details. In all cases, your motivation to learn the language and experience the culture is key to a rewarding experience and, in many cases, is more important than your formal language studies. All students are strongly encouraged to work at the language of their host country before departure as this will help them to adjust, settle in, learn, grow and participate. Feel free to call our friendly staff on 1300 135 331 (Australia) or 0800 440 079 (New Zealand) to discuss your particular circumstances.

View our online library of destination videos.

 Who will I stay with while on exchange?

You will live with a host family. Host families are typically unpaid volunteers who are eager to share their life with a teenager like you. You may live in any part of your host country and you may have more than one
host family during your experience.

 Does my family have to host someone while I am away?

No, but if you’re thinking of going overseas as an exchange student there’s no better way to learn about what’s involved than by welcoming an exchange student into your home. You’ll see the highs and the lows, but most importantly you’ll get to understand just how significant this experience is. Opening your home and heart to an exchange student is a lifelong experience that your whole family can share in. 

If you are (or have been) a participant on one of outbound exchange programs you may also be eligible to receive a hosting discount or rebate. If your family hosts one of our inbound exchange students for 5 or 10 months before or during the same year(s) as your outbound exchange program, then you may qualify for a discount or rebate off your program fee. If you have already returned home and decide to host you will be rebated $500 of the program fees you already paid. Check out our hosting pages for details. 

 Can we host a student from overseas?

Yes! We would be happy to discuss hosting with your family and arrange an interview and reference checks. We welcome enquiries from all potential host families and would be pleased to consider your family too. You may even be eligible for a $500 rebate! Check out our hosting pages for details. 

 What will my host family be like and how are they selected?

Host families overseas come in all shapes and sizes – just as they do at home. Your host family might be like your family or maybe not. It could be two parents and teenage children, or a single parent, or an older couple or a childless couple. Whatever their configuration, host families are motivated to open their home to a teenager from overseas and be part of their learning experience. Just like at home, overseas host families are interviewed and undergo an application screening process which complies with the requirements of your host country.

 Can I go with a friend?

You and your friends can apply for the same programs but you will not be placed in the same host family. The idea of exchange is to meet new people and immerse yourself in a new culture. Being with your friends from home can limit this experience. You need to grab this opportunity and make it YOUR experience.

 What support will I get while overseas?

A local volunteer coordinator is assigned to every student and will be there to assist you. If you encounter problems the local coordinator and our partner organisation will be able to guide and support you through the issue. Our staff will be in regular contact with our partner organisation and with your parents to coordinate and support your experience.

 What is expected of me?

Taking yourself out of your comfort zone means being responsible and making decisions for yourself – within the context of the rules and regulations of the program. You will mature while adapting to life in another country. You are expected to live as a local and it will be up to you to make adjustments in order to integrate into your new host family and community. You will need to be open-minded and non-judgemental, patient and fair. Being an exchange student is a fantastic opportunity to grow.

 Can I work part-time when on exchange?

That depends on a few factors. First, your host country may have laws which dictate teenagers working. Second, you’ll need to take into consideration your responsibilities at school and with your host family and friends. The aim of the exchange is to experience life as a teenager overseas and to contribute to your host family and school environment. If part-time work prevents you from achieving these aims then it is not such a good idea. However, if your peers in your host country have part-time jobs and doing so is a normal part of that community, then it is highly likely that you will find opportunity to earn a little pocket money.

 Can I go to more than one country?

No. This is too difficult to arrange as program dates do not match between countries and host families are unable to accept students in the middle of their holidays.  

 Can I speak to a former exchange student?

Of course. We are happy to connect you with one of our Returned Student Advisors, who are former exchange students that have participated on an exchange in your host country. They are happy to share their experiences with you and can provide advice on all manner of detail regarding being an exchange student to your destination.

 Will I have to repeat my school year when I get home?

Maybe yes, maybe no. This is a decision to be made in consultation with your school or education authority and your parents. It is important to speak with your school early on in the process about how being an exchange student will impact upon your enrolment. This may differ according to whether you participate on a short or a long program and whether or not you have completed your schooling before participation commences.

 How do I pay?

  1. A $150 deposit is payable on application, which is fully refundable if your application is not successful.
  2. The balance of the program fee is payable in instalments commencing on acceptance to the program.

Click here to view the payment timeline.

 What does ISO 9001 certification mean?

ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) is an internationally recognised quality management standard which provides assurance that Student Exchange Australia New Zealand has the type of management systems in place to deliver a quality experience to all our students. Student Exchange Australia New Zealand Ltd is the first and only secondary student exchange organisation in Australia and New Zealand to be certified to ISO 9001 (Quality Management System). The certificate is available to download.

 Where does the money go?

Student Exchange Australia New Zealand Ltd is a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation which means there are no shareholders to whom profits can be distributed. We are ‘fee for service’ which means that program fees are used to cover the costs of providing the program, both here and abroad. As a rough guide program costs break down as follows:

  • 25% of program costs occur before you leave and go toward the recruitment and selection of students for their overseas experience. These include professional staff in Australia and New Zealand, processing of applications, student and family interviews, resource materials, orientation and assistance with visas and a contribution to general overheads.
  • 27% of program costs go toward getting students to and from their destination. These include domestic and international airfares with recognised airlines, airport transfers, insurance and processing of tickets.
  • 48% of program costs arise in the hosting country and go toward the care and support of students. These include full time professional support staff, recruitment and selection of volunteer host families, recruitment and selection of local coordinators, provision of arrival orientations, development of resource materials and facilitation of school enrolments, etc.

A couple of relevant studies for Australia1 and New Zealand2 have identifi ed the costs of keeping a teenager at home. In Australia it is estimated to be up to A$717/week. In New Zealand it is estimated to be over NZ$1000 per week, depending on the number of children in the household. Compare this to the cost of our participation fee and the value of our programs is immediately clear. A student exchange program is an investment for life. Experience is everythingTM

1. AMP NATSEM Income and Wealth Report May 2013 conducted by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (Australia)

2. Costs of Raising Children March 2010 conducted by Inland Revenue, Te Tari Taake (New Zealand).

Can I travel whilst on exchange?

Individual travel to visit relatives, friends and /or other students

  • Permission will be granted only if the host or receiving individual is 25 years of age or older. This category of travel always requires the prior permission of natural parents, school, Student Exchange and the host organisation. The travel must be directly from the student’s location to the point of visit and return. No diversions from this direct route or overnight stopovers will be permitted. Hitchhiking is never allowed. Independent unsupervised travel is generally not allowed 
  • In some countries optional tours are available and students are encouraged to take advantage of such trips. All parties concerned must be satisfied that the student will be safe at all times. Any travel should not involve missing any school days or any academic aspects of the program. If students are planning to leave the country on any trips, they will need to check the regulations regarding visas and re-entry. Students must be absolutely certain that they have the correct documents.

Can my parents visit me whilst I am on exchange?

Natural families sometimes get caught up in the excitement of their child’s program and start
planning overseas trips that involve meeting up with the student at some time during their

Please do not plan any such trips without consulting Student Exchange.

Most of our partner organisations stipulate that students should not be visited during their
program. Some organisations allow visits at the end of the program. This is because, through
long experience, it has been found that such visits often upset the balance of the program.

The student can be torn in loyalty between his/her host family and natural family, and it is
easy for any of the parties to be inadvertently hurt.