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Education System in Australia

Education System in Australia; Image Courtesy:

Australian Education System

The Australian education system is built around the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). It was established back in 1995 and covers higher education and vocational training along with school leaving certificate and secondary certificate of education. It brings together all levels of the education system viz. school and university as well as vocational. This education system brings about transparency and an easy pathway from one level of education to the next with a great guidance for career prospects and opportunities. If the qualification that you are obtaining is AQF certified then it is listed in the Government directory and is nationally accredited and you receive a genuine certificate of completion.

The Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) and a National Training Quality Council are two recent Australian Government initiatives to further strengthen Australia’s existing accreditation and quality assurance processes throughout Australia.

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The Australian education system is broadly broken down into:


University is the highest level of study in Australia. There are 40 public (government funded) universities and two private universities in Australia. All Australian universities are unique and you need to find the one that best suits your needs.

  1. Bachelor Degree – basic level for most professions with a duration of 3-4 years; many universities also offer Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas.
  2. Bachelor Degree with Honors – if you achieve outstanding results you can do a further year of study and apply for honors.
  3. Graduate Certificate – intensive programs of study, building on an undergraduate degree with a duration of 6 months
  4. Graduate Diploma – building further upon an undergraduate degree with a duration of 1 year
  5. Masters Degree – coursework or research with a duration of 1-2 years
  6. Doctoral Degree – also known as a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), is the highest level of University qualification with a duration of 3-4 years
  7. Vocational Education and Training – The duration of vocational courses varies depending on the institutions offering these courses

The major difference between vocational courses and university courses is that vocational courses are practical and skill based whereas university courses have theory in them as well. Vocational education and training is provided at Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes, which are government owned or even at private institutions.

Many vocational institutions have a tie-up with universities and with the help of this, universities offer up to one year of advanced education into a Bachelor degree as well as guaranteed entry into the university course, as long as the grades match the requirement.


Also read: Complete List of Universities in Australia

Foundation Studies and Bridging Courses

A foundation studies or bridging course will give you the knowledge and skills you need if you want to enter a university undergraduate course but your academic background does not meet the minimum academic requirements. These courses were developed especially to prepare international students for university undergraduate studies. They are usually for one year and are divided into steams of study (business or science). There is no examination involved with the Foundation program. Your teachers and lecturers will assess you and give you exams to test your level.

English Language Study

English language courses are for those international visitors who need to improve their English language skills, whether for study, traveling or business. Many universities and vocational education and training (VET) institutes have English language centres attached to their campuses. There are around 100 private English language centres in all capital cities and some rural areas. English language courses do not usually have any entrance requirements. A wide range of courses are offered to suit all levels.

Also read: TOEFL Exam

Schools in Australia; Image Courtesy:

School Study

In Australia, it is compulsory for children aged between 6 and 15 to go to school. Australian schools are either public (run by the government) or private (often linked to religious institutions). There is a general match in the level of schooling in Australia and other countries. However, a student may need to start at a lower level to make sure that they adjust to Australian conditions and studies in English.

Starting dates

The start dates of the education system in Australia depend on the type of course selected. Doctoral or PhD courses begin after checking and negotiating with the Supervisor. Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses usually start in February or March but can vary depending on the course and the university. Vocational courses usually begin a month earlier from university courses, i.e. somewhere around February. Schools begin in late January or early February again depending on the school in question. English language courses take place throughout the year.

Average course costs (2016)

  • Graduate Degree Courses: $10000 to $33000 per year
  • Postgraduate/Masters degrees: $20000 to $37000 per year
  • Doctoral Degree Courses: $14000 to $37000 per year
  • English Language Courses: $300 per week
  • Vocational Courses: $4000 to $22000 per year


IELTS is a mandatory if you are applying as a student or as an immigrant to Australia.

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