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Science students take part in the science and engineering challenge as part of the International Science School

International Science School

Join us in 2022
Be inspired by talks from world-renowned scientists, go on tours of cutting-edge research facilities, and take part in mind-expanding hands-on workshops and activities.

Are you currently in Year 11 or 12 and love science?

If so, you’ve got to apply for our amazing Professor Harry Messel International Science School (ISS) program.

Our scheduled in-person ISS program will be back bigger and better than ever in 2022, so stay tuned for further information and registration details. 

2022: ISS In-person

Our Professor Harry Messel International Science School (ISS) program is scheduled to return next year in-person.

Our ISS program is held every two years and gathers together 140 top science students from Australia and overseas, including China, Japan, India, New Zealand, Thailand, USA and UK, to take part in a two-week residential program.

Highlights of the program include talks by world-renowned scientists, laboratory tours and hands-on experiences, as well as a swag of fun social events ranging from the Sydney Harbour cruise to the ISS talent quest!

Find our more about next year's ISS program and stay tuned for further information and registration details.

Australian Students:

  • If you're in Year 11 or 12 in 2022, a citizen or permanent resident of Australia, and attending a school in Australia, you can apply to be an ISS scholar. Unfortunately we do not accept applications from Australian students attending schools overseas.
  • ISS Scholars are selected on academic merit and aptitude, city or country, public school, private school or independent doesn’t matter where you come from, if you're into science you should apply.
  • Attendance is free, ISS scholarships cover all expenses so students attend at no cost to themselves. Scholarships are valued at around $3,500 and cover travel within Australia, all food, accommodation, events and activities.
  • All scholars stay for two weeks, all participants (even those from Sydney) will stay in student accommodation for the entire program, to give everyone a chance to get to know a whole group of amazing people from across the country and all over the world.

International Students:

  • The ISS is truly International, of the 140 ISS scholars, around two-thirds come from the states and territories of Australia. The final third come from seven other countries: China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the USA.
  • Overseas students are selected by their home country: we have selection panels in the countries listed above, and they each have their own system for selecting students to attend the ISS. We do not accept applications directly from students outside Australia.

Selection criteria

The ISS 2022 selection criteria, terms and conditions, and application deadline will be available in late 2021.

In typical ISS, around 90 students from across Australia are awarded full scholarships to attend the ISS.

We have selection panels in each state and territory to assist in the selection of students, based on the following criteria:

  • Only Australian citizens or permanent residents currently attending school in Australia may use the application form. We do not accept applications from Australian students studying overseas
  • Applicants must be in Year 11 or 12 (final two years of high school) in the year that the ISS is held to apply
  • International students do not use the application form: students from our partner countries (China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, the USA and the UK) are selected by organisations in those countries
  • Applicants should achieve the highest grades in the top-level syllabi of English, Science and Mathematics in their year 10 exams and/or most recent year 11 assessments (e.g. ‘A’ grade, or > 80%, or equivalent)
  • Applicants should be assessed by their school’s Principal as one of the top science students in their year group at school, and must supply supporting comments from their Head of Science Department and/or School Principal. Preference may be given to students whose vocational interest is a career in the sciences
  • Applicants should be studying at least 50% Science and Mathematics subjects in year 11 or 12. If necessary, preference may be given to students studying at least one of Physics and Chemistry
  • Applicants must be clear communicators and be able to represent their school and state at the International Science School

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under-represented in science and engineering in Australia — which is why the ISS aims to bring talented, enthusiastic Indigenous Australian students together with like-minded scholars from across Australia and around the globe.

The ISS Indigenous Australian Scholars Program reserves five scholarships to attend the International Science School for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants.

Applicants are selected against the same criteria of interest in science and academic achievement, and their applications are included in the general scholarship selection process.

If unsuccessful in that round, they may be eligible for one of the five reserved Indigenous Student scholarships.

If you wish to apply for one of these scholarships, you need to upload some evidence of your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background. This can be any one of the following:

  • your birth records or documentation of genealogy verified by a suitable authority; or
  • a letter with 'Common Seal' signed by the Chairperson of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander incorporated organisation in which the applicant lives or has previously lived (where records are not available); or
  • you can self-identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander with a statutory declaration that you are an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Details for the next ISS program are still be developed, but here’s a taste of what’s in store.

The ISS Lecture Series, the backbone of the program, features talks by world-leading researchers from across the sciences and engineering.

In the past we have had Nobel prize winners alongside up-and-coming researchers — all with an inspiring story to tell.

Activities & Tours: get hands-on with experiments, lab tours, seminars and workshops to extend your skills, get your brains working, and help you get to know other students.

The program features activities from across the breadth of science.

Past ISS programs have included:

  • Tours of science research labs at the University of Sydney, in physics, chemistry, biosciences, engineering, computing, geoscience, and much more
  • A meet-and-greet with some of our best up-and-coming young researchers
  • The School of Psychology's finest mind-bending visual and cognitive illusions
  • A lightning-fast introduction to scientific ethics in our Ethics & Leadership Workshops
  • A behind-the-scenes look at the University's museum collections
  • Competing for glory in the Science & Engineering Challenge, developed by the University of Newcastle.

A Packed Social Calendar: after the science is done for the day, we have a swag of social events to help you all get to know each other, such as:

  • A dinner cruise of beautiful Sydney Harbour — when you've taken photos of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from every possible angle, get on the dance floor as the on-board DJ cranks up the volume.
  • Nightly social events including a trivia competition, movie and games nights ... and grab your boots and best flanno shirt for the traditional ISS Bush Dance (trust us, it's great fun).
  • The ISS Gala Reception — a chance to meet our past alumni, donors and sponsors of the program, and soak up the Hogwarts-esque grandeur of the University of Sydney's Great Hall.
  • The ISS Talent Night — Do you sing? Dance? Do magic? Play an instrument? The ISS Talent Night needs you. It needs all the talent it can get, tbh.
  • and so much more...

For the entire two weeks of the International Science School, all our scholars and staff will be staying in boarding facilities close to the University of Sydney, including scholars who live in Sydney.

All accommodation and transport related to the ISS program is provided by the ISS and our overseas partners, so that no student misses out on the opportunity to attend due to financial constraints.


Students will share single-sex dorm rooms with up to 3 other students, giving them the chance to get to make new friends from across Australia and around the world.


ISS scholarships include three full meals a day (and a few snacks to keep you going), catering to different tastes, needs, allergies and diets.


How you get to us will depend on where you're coming from, but rest assured, unless you're walkin, your travel will be covered.

Australian students, the ISS will cover your transport to the International Science School, by plane if you live more than a few hours away from Sydney, or by ground transport if you live closer to us.

International students, students selected by organisations in their home country will have their airfares to Sydney paid for by those organisations.

The ISS will meet students at Sydney International Airport and take them to the accommodation.

The Pursuit of Excellence is the history of the first 50 years of the ISS.

It is written by Trevor Danos, an ISS alumnus (1974) and former President of the Science Foundation for Physics.

Download our ISS Archives document and read about our history.