Frequently asked questions

FAQs for students

The Homestay program is available to UOW College and UOW students, Study Tour students, students studying at The Illawarra Grammar School and visiting professors, teachers, agents and supervising staff.

We use the information you give us about yourself on your application form to choose a family that best suits you. Tell us as much as you can in your application, such as your hobbies and other things you like to do in your spare time, for example any sports you play/watch, your favourite video game and books you like to read.

You can also tell us your preference around living with children or pets. Many families in Australia have pets, however they keep their homes very clean. If you are allergic to pets, please make sure you tell us on your application.

For non-Study Tour students over 18 years, the initial stay is 4 weeks. If you would like to stay longer, you may discuss this with your host and let the UOW College Homestay team know. Some students stay with the same host for many years, until they graduate. 

If you are under 18, you must stay with your host until you no longer require UOW College welfare care. 

You need to give your UOW College and your host at least 14 days’ notice when you are ready to move out (or 14 days payment instead of notice). Please complete the online Homestay Notification Form to notify UOW College that you are moving out of UOWCA Homestay.

All our Homestay hosts are within 45 minutes of UOW Wollongong campus or your school on public transport. Your host can advise you on which public transport to take. Some hosts may live close enough that you can walk or bicycle, and on occasion the host may drive you in their car.

You can plan your journey in advance by visiting the Transport NSW website.

All hosts are required to have internet access for students. In Australia, some internet plans are charged on usage. Your host will talk to you about their internet plan and usage limits.

You will eat the same food as your host family eats. Australia is a multicultural society, so we eat a wide variety of foods. You will get to experience many new things while you are here.

Breakfast: Australians do not usually prepare hot/cooked breakfasts except occasionally on weekends. Breakfast is usually cereal, toast, fruit, yogurt or porridge. Students will have access to breakfast items in every home to prepare those items themselves. It is very unusual for Australian families to sit together at breakfast time and usually eat their breakfast at different times (because of their individual morning preparation routines).

Evening meals: Australians eat a wide variety of foods and utilise many countries’ cooking styles and flavours. You will get to experience many different types of dishes in Australia. Students eat with the household and fit in with their daily routine.

If you are not planning to be home on time or eat with your host, you should advise them early in the morning or day before so they do not waste food or wait for you to come home before they eat.

Lunches: Lunch is generally a casual and small meal in Australian homes. It may be a sandwich, a salad, or some other simple thing. Australians do not often eat hot meals in the middle of the day.

Weekend lunch is included in your Homestay fee (if you are home). Your host will provide a prepared meal for you or provide you with the ingredients to make your own sandwich or salad. Weekday lunches are not included in your Homestay fee. Most students will buy lunch on campus or purchase ingredients to make their own food.

If you use food from your host’s cupboards to make lunch, you must pay an additional cost per week to cover the additional groceries required. For more information on cost refer to Other Service Fees.

Alcohol: Alcohol is not included in your Homestay fee. Ask permission before you bring alcohol into the home, however most hosts will not have any issue as most Australian’s like to enjoy drinking alcohol socially. Remember you cannot legally drink alcohol if you are under 18.

Special diets: Let us know on your application if you have any special diet needs due to food allergies, illness or religious reasons. We will find a host that can work with your special needs. Please note that there may be an extra charge for some special diet requests.

Please discuss this with your host. Some hosts prefer students not to cook, however many are happy for you to cook with them. It can be a good way to learn about each other’s cultures and practice speaking uncommon words. If you specifically want to be allowed to cook, please mention that on your application form.

Laundry is included in your Homestay fee. Some hosts will allow you to do your own washing using their laundry and others will be happy to do it for you. Your host will discuss this with you when you arrive.

All Homestays must provide a bed, bedding, sheets, pillow, blankets, clothes storage, desk, chair & lamp for their student.

If you wish to decorate your room with pictures, ask permission from your host first and ask them how to do it to ensure you don’t make holes or marks on the wall. They may have a notice board in your room for this purpose.

It is very unusual in Australian homes for everyone to have their own bathroom. You should expect to share the bathroom with other members of the household. If you are sharing a bathroom with other members of the household, your host will talk to you about what times will be best for you to use the shower.

Yes. There are many Homestays that are set up for two people to share a room - either with two separate beds in one room or with a double bed for couples. If you would like to share a room with your friend, please explain this on your application form.

In Australia, we all contribute to the running of the home. You should make your bed, keep your room tidy and leave the bathroom clean and tidy every time you use it.

You can also help with small tasks like washing the dishes after dinner or taking out the rubbish. Ask your host what they would like you to help with. They will give you some small tasks to include you in the household routine.

If you are away from your Homestay for more than seven continuous days but intend to return to this room, then you are entitled to a 50% discount on your Homestay fees for the time that you are away. Your host cannot let anyone else live in the room while you are away.

You need to give your UOW College and your host at least 14 days’ notice to have your holiday rate applied. Please complete the online Homestay Notification Form to notify UOW College that you will be away from homestay for a minimum of 7 nights.

There is an excellent airport collection system in place for our students. UOW use Leisure Coast Limousines to collect and transfer our students. The driver will take you direct from the airport to your host’s home. You will be sent very clear instructions about meeting your driver once we have a host confirmed for you. Hosts do not collect students from the airport.

Your host is there to guide you on living in Australia and will be able to help you with most problems. They are very experienced and kind local people that you can talk to about what is worrying you.

If you have a problem with your host, you should first start by talking to them. It might be a simple misunderstanding. They will be kind and understanding about your question.

If the problem is not resolved, please contact us to talk about your concerns. If you have an emergency, we have a 24 hour mobile number that you can call for assistance any time of the day: +61 438 831 246

Discuss with your host at the beginning of your stay their rules for socialising in the home. Always ask your host permission before inviting anyone to their home.

If you are under 18 you must have permission first and provide your host with information about where you will be so they can contact you. 

If you are over 18 you do not need permission to go out at night, but it is polite to tell your host that you are going out and what time you will be back. If you are going to eat out, then you should text or call your host so that they don’t make dinner for you and waste food.

In Australia, smoking is widely acknowledged to be very unhealthy. There are strict laws about where you can and cannot smoke. Smoking is not allowed in public areas such as restaurants, bars, shopping centres and beaches. Nor is it permitted on buses, trains, taxis or private cars that have children in them.

For this reason, we do not register Homestay hosts that smoke in their homes. For this reason, it can be very difficult to find a host that will accept a student that smokes. If we can find a family that allows a smoker, you will not be allowed to smoke inside the home regardless. Your host will discuss with you at the beginning of your stay where you are permitted to smoke on the property.

This point is very important: if you are found smoking inside your Homestay house you may be required to leave without receiving a refund. 

Students are very welcome to arrive at their Homestay a few days before the commencement of their course. We recommend a weekend arrival on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Students who wish to arrive early and spend time in Australia before they commence classes should book alternate accommodation for that period. Homestay hosts are here to support students who are studying. The purpose of Homestay is not to provide cheap accommodations for holiday or recreation purposes.

Please note that under 18 students with CAAW cover are not permitted to enter Australia more than 7 days before their course commences. This is a visa restriction.

FAQs for hosts

Most of our students study in the Wollongong central region.

We have hosts as far north as Thirroul and as far south as Shellharbour, however those areas are primarily for students who can be driven daily to the Wollongong campus by their host on a short-term basis – study tours for example. Generally speaking, students want to be as close to the central area as possible. It enables cheap, easy access to school, friends, shopping and going out.

Hosts should live close to public transport that is within 30 minutes of travel to UOW Wollongong campus or at one of the schools our students attend. If you are unsure, we encourage you to still enquire so we can assess all factors.

Our hosts consist of singles, couples, young people, old people, retired people, business owners, professionals, academics, artists, big noisy families, small quiet families, single mums and dads, empty nesters, newlyweds – everyone!

Students are mostly visiting international students aged from 10 years up to adults. They are looking for extra help settling into a new culture and language and a safe place with someone to support and guide them. They want someone to talk to and practice their English, and a comfortable place to focus on study.

You cannot choose the student specifically, however you can indicate the type of student you would like to host (eg. female, over 18) however this may limit the number of offers you receive.

Short stay options (1-3 weeks) are available as well as long term stays of up to 12 months.

Adult students have an initial stay of 4 weeks in which you will both decide if you would like to continue beyond this initial ‘trial period’. It will then be up to you and the student to establish the length of stay that suits you both. 

Prepare what you would normally make for the household. Students are coming to be a part of the ‘family’, so they will eat what the household eats.

It’s also recommended to have snacks in your pantry like instant noodles, bread, spreads and fruit.

Some students have special diet requests. This could be because of allergies, food preferences, moral choice or religious reasons. Where a student has listed a special dietary need, we will always discuss this before you agree to take the student.

If for any reason the student isn’t working out well in your home, you should contact us to discuss the issues. In many cases it’s a simple miscommunication issue. However, if it is something that cannot be resolved, then we will relocate the student as soon as possible.

Your normal family life should still continue as it always does. Where appropriate, the students will simply come with you to help immerse themselves in the local lifestyle. Sometimes this is not suitable (a work Christmas party for example) and the student will simply stay home or make their own arrangements to go out with friends.

The exception to this is under 18 study tour students which should not be left home alone without appropriate adult supervision. If you have something on and need assistance, please contact the Homestay Team as they can often link you up with another host in the program to look after your students while you are busy.

Under 18 students cannot be left home alone overnight. If you are needing to travel away from your home overnight while hosting an under 18 student, please contact the Homestay Team and they can discuss alternative arrangements over this time.

Adult students can be left alone in your home if you plan to go away for a short period of time however some students may not be comfortable with this arrangement, particularly if they are on a short stay or if it is within the first few weeks of their arrival. In these situations, contact the Homestay Team so we can also check in with the student about your travel plans.

All students need internet access to study and communicate with their friends and family at home. New hosts generally find that their internet usage increases when they host a student however most plans are for unlimited data. If your plan is not already for unlimited data, we would recommend exploring alternative available plans.

Basic chores are a good way for the student to feel a part of the household. Simple things like helping with the dishes, or clearing the table, or taking out the rubbish are all appropriate.

Students are also advised that they should keep their rooms tidy, make their beds and leave the bathroom tidy when they leave.

This is something you should discuss with your student at the beginning of their stay. While it is your home, it is worth remembering that while they are staying with you, it is their home also and they will want to be able to socialise.

We advise you to set boundaries early and insist that they always ask permission first.

Rules around sleepovers are entirely at your own discretion. Most hosts have a no sleepovers rule but that is up to you to decide. You should discuss it with your student and set the boundaries at the beginning of their stay.

You should seek your own accountants’ advice regarding your individual taxation assessment. The ATO website may also provide information on payments received under a 'homestay' arrangement. In most cases, Homestay income is not assessable for taxation purposes.