Australian education system
School education (Primary and Secondary)
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:
- Primary school – Runs for seven or eight years, starting at Kindergarten/Preparatory through to Year 6 or 7.
- Secondary school – Runs for three or four years, from Years 7 to 10 or 8 to 10.
- Senior secondary school – Runs for two years, Years 11 and 12.
Tertiary education includes both higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET).
Language of instruction
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.
Australian Qualifications Framework
The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).(opens in a new window) 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.
Our 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.
Education costs in Australia
The costs of studying in Australia depend on the institution and the level of study you choose.
As an international student, your tuition fees are payable before you study. You can use the Course Search on this website to find courses and see details such as their tuition fees. There may be additional costs for your course, including course materials and access to institution facilities.
The list below gives you an indication of the range of course costs for different types of qualifications.
- School – $7,800 to $30,000
- English language studies – Around $300 per week depending on course length
- Vocational Education and Training (Certificates I to IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma) – $4,000 to $22,000
- Undergraduate Bachelor Degree – $15,000 to $33,000*
- Postgraduate Masters Degree – $20,000 to $37,000*
- Doctoral Degree – $14,000 to $37,000*
* Note: This does not include high value courses such as veterinary and medical. Please visit institution websites directly to see costs for these courses.
All costs are per year in Australian dollars. To convert to your own currency, visit http://www.xe.com(opens in a new window)
Internships in Australia
Internships are temporary work placements in workplaces and education institutions. Internships can be paid or unpaid depending on the industry and the length of placement, and are a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the area of your study.
Benefits of undertaking an internship can include:
- Contributing to your education through course credits.
- Experience working in Australia can help your chances of finding similar work back home.
- Helping to improve your English.
- Helping you develop a network of professional contacts, which could be useful for future references.
- Learning new work skills and practices.
There are several student and work visas that allow international students to intern in Australia. Different conditions can apply when it comes to the period of your internship, including: how many hours a day/week you can intern, and whether you can earn money as an intern. Further information on visa conditions can be found on the Department of Home Affairs(opens in a new window) website.
Many institutions have internship programs, so check what options your institution offers. There are also private recruitment and internship placement firms that help international students find internships; however, be aware that there can be costs associated with using these providers. This can range from $A1,500 to 2,100 depending on the length of your placement.
Universities and Higher Education
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 enrol 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.
Our quality assurance
Australia has a national regulatory and quality agency for higher education – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)(opens in a new window). 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 well-being of all international students.
- The quality of students’ education experience.
- The provision of up-to-date and accurate information.
Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching
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.
You can visit the website at: www.qilt.edu.au(opens in a new window)
Whether you’re looking to move straight into the workforce, or to take an initial step in your tertiary education, an Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification can take you where you want to go.
Australia’s VET sector is based on a partnership between governments and industry. VET qualifications are provided by government institutions, called Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions, as well as private institutions. Australian governments (federal and state) provide funding, develop policies, and contribute to regulation and quality assurance of the sector. Industry and employer groups contribute to training policies and priorities, and in developing qualifications that deliver skills to the workforce.
Study with the experts…
Nothing is more exciting than learning from someone who shares the same passions as you do – and who’s already been there and done it at the highest level. In Australia, VET teaching staff are not just industry-aware, but have actual experience in their fields of expertise – maintaining the currency of their knowledge, and modifying their courses to reflect changing industry focus and needs. And that means you learn not only the theory, but also the reality of the subjects you’re studying.
…And learn on the job.
Many of our VET courses incorporate a period of on-site learning, which means you don’t just learn in a classroom, but get priceless industry experience in a genuine work environment. It’s real-world industry experience that ensures your qualifications fully prepare you for employment in your chosen industry.
Our quality assurance
In Australia, the quality of your education is guaranteed. In fact, the wellbeing of all international students, the quality of their educational experience, and the provision of up-to-date and accurate information is protected by law – under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. On top of this, a national VET Regulator – Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)(opens in a new window) – ensures the quality of our education to more than 1.2 million students – including some 230,000 international students involved in vocational education and training.
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