The Australian education system provides primary, secondary and tertiary education.
School education is similar across all of Australia with only minor variations between states and territories. School education (primary and secondary) is compulsory between the ages of six and sixteen (Year 1 to Year 9 or 10). School education is 13 years and divided into:
Tertiary education includes both higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET).
English is the official language of Australia and the main language of instruction in the education system. Many schools offer bilingual programs or programs in other languages.
The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF was established in 1995 and is a national policy that covers qualifications from the tertiary education sector (higher education and vocational education and training) in addition to the school-leaving certificate; the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.
The AQF has 10 levels and links school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system. This allows you to move easily from one level of study to the next, and from one institution to another, as long as you satisfy student visa requirements. It allows for choice and flexibility in career planning. All qualifications in the AQF help prepare you for both further study and your working life.
If you are studying an AQF qualification, you can be sure that your institution is Government-authorised and nationally accredited, and that your degree or other AQF qualification will be genuine.
Australian institutions are linked across the country and across the world, which makes it easy to move throughout the education system between courses or institutions and formal agreement and recognition frameworks mean every step of the path will contribute to your future no matter what your study or career goals.
Higher education courses can be taken to earn an advanced degree and continue your studies in Australia. There are three main types of higher education which lead to Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral Degrees.
In Australia, it is quite common for students to enroll in a double or combined Bachelor Degree program which leads to the award of two Bachelor Degrees. This is most common in the fields of arts, commerce, law, and science.
Australian institutions offer a wide range of courses – from science to management and commerce, humanities to engineering, and law to health sciences. Australian institutions rank among the world’s best by discipline, particularly in engineering and technology, medicine, environmental science, and accounting and finance.
There are 43 universities in Australia (40 Australian universities, two international universities, and one private specialty university). Along with our universities, many other institutions offer higher education courses. You can search for institutions and courses using the Institution and Course Search on this website.
Australia has a national regulatory and quality agency for higher education – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). It was established by the Australian Government to monitor quality, and regulate university and non-university higher education providers against a set of standards developed by the independent Higher Education Standards Panel.
In addition, the following student rights are protected by law under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS):
The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website makes it possible to compare higher education institutions and study areas, based on the results of thousands of surveys completed by domestic and international current and former students. Users will be able to compare the overall satisfaction of current students and recent graduates, as well as the percentage of graduates moving into full-time employment and their median salary.
If you don’t meet the entry requirements to get into the course you want in Australia, there are many pathways that can help you reach your goal. This might include studying in an Australian school, taking English language preparation or studying a vocational education and training course. Another pathway may be Foundation Studies - one-year intensive preparatory courses available through the majority of institutions. These will give you the skills you need to enter an undergraduate (Bachelor Degree) course.
If you don’t meet academic requirements, there are a few options to prepare you for further study. Depending on your previous studies and the final qualification you want to study, you can enroll in secondary school or Foundation Studies.
Foundation Studies is usually a one-year intensive preparatory course that will give you the skills you need to enter an undergraduate course at a university or higher education institution. These studies are usually divided into streams such as business studies and science studies, and offer both compulsory and elective subjects. English language support is usually available.
Many schools, vocational education and training institutions, and universities offer Foundation Studies courses. The common feature of Foundation Studies is that a university allocates a provisional place in an undergraduate program assuming you achieve the prescribed grades.
Living in Australia will be a new experience, but there are support services in your institution as well as from other organizations to help make adjusting to life in Australia easier.
As Australia is the fourth happiest country in the world (Prosperity Index 2012) and we have five of the 30 best cities in the world for students (Top University Rankings 2012), you are sure to enjoy your time here.
No matter what type of study you are doing in Australia, whether you are here for a few months or a few years, some research and planning will help you have a safe and rewarding study experience. Important considerations and planning include: