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

International Science School

ISS2023 — live and in-person, 2-15 July 2023
Inspiring talks from world-renowned scientists. Tours of cutting-edge research facilities. Mind-expanding hands-on workshops and activities. And a packed social program.

If you’re mad about science and in year 11 or 12 in 2023, you really should apply! Complete the online application form before 6 April. 

The best thing was collaborating with other people my age who love science as much as I do, in an environment that encourages critical thinking and looking deeper into things.
Student review ISS Online 2021

From 2-15 July, 150 year 11-12 science students from across Australia and around the world will gather at the University of Sydney for the Prof Harry Messel International Science School. 

Each day at the ISS is packed with amazing, inspiring science — hear leading researchers discuss their research, explore labs and research facilities to look behind the scenes, chat with undergraduates and early-career scientists, and get hands-on with real experiments and loads of STEM activities. 

Beyond the science, the ISS gives you a chance to explore the university and the beautiful city of Sydney with loads of new friends from all over the world. You’ll stay in boarding accommodation, looked after and mentored by our team of amazing, dedicated staff.

Best of all, ISS2023 is entirely free, funded by the Physics Foundation at the University of Sydney through support from the NSW DET, the Australian Federal Government, Mulpha Australia, and many generous private and industry donors.

So make sure you apply — complete the online application form.

Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity! The ISS is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life and is a key milestone in my studies and career.
Student review ISS Online 2021

Australian Students:

  • If you're in Year 11 or 12 in 2023, 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. So city or country, public school, private school or independent school ... it 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 or their families. Scholarships are valued at around $3,500 and cover travel within Australia, all food, accommodation, events and activities.
  • The ISS is fully residential. All participants — even those from Sydney — will stay in student accommodation for the entire two weeks of 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 our partner countries around the world: China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, 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.
  • The ISS is still free! All overseas scholars receive scholarships for the ISS program, and our overseas partners fund airfares to Sydney.

Applications are now open - visit the online application form. Make sure you get yours in by the deadline: 6 April 2023.

For information about the selection criteria, see the sections below, or download ISS Application Info.


Up to 100 students from across Australia, and five from New Zealand, will be selected to take part in ISS2023.

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 Australian application form. We do not accept applications from Australian students studying overseas.
  • Only New Zealand citizens or permanent residents currently attending school in New Zealand may use the NZ application form. We do not accept applications from New Zealand students studying overseas.

All students:

  • Applicants must be in their final two years of secondary school in 2022 (ie. year 11-12 in Australia; year 12-13 in NZ)
  • Applicants should achieve the highest grades in the top-level syllabi of English, Science and Mathematics in their most recent formal 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 their final two years of secondary school.
  • Applicants must be clear communicators and be able to represent their school and state/country at the International Science School. 

Our selection panels will make selections based on the above criteria, as well as aiming for a balance of participants based on gender, location, school system and relative opportunity. 

All selections are final and at the discretion of the University of Sydney and organisers of the ISS Online program.

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 ISS Online 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 selection process. 

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

If you wish to apply for one of these scholarships, you will need to upload some evidence of your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background when you apply. 

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.

More details of the Indigenous Scholars Program will be available when the applications open in January.


Details for the 2023 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 ISSs have included:

— Tour amazing science research labs at the University of Sydney, in physics, chemistry, biosciences, engineering, IT, geoscience, and much more

— Try a bunch of surprising hands-on experiments from the Faculty of Science science communicator team

— Speed-meet-and-greet some of our best up-and-coming young researchers from across science and engineering

— Wrap your mind around tricky scientific moral and ethical challenges in our Ethics & Leadership Workshops

— Take A behind-the-scenes look at the University's museum collections

— Compete 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. (We need all the talent we 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.

Rooms:  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.

Meals: 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 walking, 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 fifty years of the ISS. 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.