Study in Australia - Educational System

School Education

The Schools in Australia are divided into three main groups:

Primary Schools (years 0-6 or 7)
Secondary High Schools (years 7 or 8-12) 
Junior Colleges (years 7 or 8-10 only)  
Senior or Matriculation Colleges (years 11 and 12 only).

After year 10, most students go straight on to Years 11 and 12 (Senior Secondary). Year 12 or Adult Matriculation is necessary if students want to go on to higher education courses at universities, and also necessary for some TAFE and private commercial courses. 

Australian schools offer a wide range of subjects, highly trained and experienced teachers, and the use of state-of-the-art technology and specialised laboratories.

There are two broad categories of schools in Australia :
  • Government School
  • Private Schools
Academic Year
  • Late January/early February until December
  • Short Holiday between terms
  • A long summer holiday in December and January

Students attend school from Monday to Friday each week. School hours vary slightly across Australia but are generally from 9.00 am to 3.30 pm each school day.

Most schools are co-educational with the exception of some private secondary schools.

There are over 12,000 international students in Australian schools. Some schools and colleges cater exclusively for international students. Others have long traditions of exchanging their own students with international students. 

School enrolments are  limited simply because the availability of spaces is at a premium so it is wise to make your enrolment enquiries early and inquire about waiting lists.

Many students use senior secondary study to gain university entry qualifications. Around nine out of every 10 Australian secondary schools also offer vocational education programs in addition to the standard school curriculum. In the last two years of secondary school, students may undertake studies, which may lead them to university/ vocational education or employment.

School Scholarships

Scholarships are provided by many schools and cover part or all of the tuition fees. Schools can either set their own exams for scholarship students or participate in tests developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Tests are usually held in May the year before the scholarship is offered. These are generally conducted in Australia, however, there are some overseas examination centres for the ACER test. You can inquire directly with the school or through your local Australian education adviser if scholarships are available at the schools you are interested in attending.


Australia has 39 universities which are listed on the registers of the Australian Qualifications Framework as well as a number of recognised higher education institutions. Australian universities also have overseas branch campuses, twinning arrangements and exchange programmes for students and staff worldwide. Australia has nearly 4000 formal agreements with universities around the world.

All Australian universities are strictly monitored to maintain high standards in teaching and research. Most Australian universities are located in cities, while some are found in rural environments. Universities offer courses in a wide range of areas at the following levels:

Academic Year
Most courses start in February, however,
some may also start in July and October.

University in Australia is a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars, as well as individual study in laboratories and libraries. There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities that balance academic life.
Each university has its own entrance requirements for each course offered.




18-24 months

Advanced Diploma

2 - 3 Years          

Bachelor Degree

Minimum 3 years

Bachelor Degree (Honours)

4 years

Graduate Certificates

6 Months

Graduate Diplomas

12 Months

Masters Degree       

1 - 2 Years

Doctoral Degree 

Typically 3 Years

Vocational Education & Traning

Australia's Vocational Education and Training (VET) system is often referred to as Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) in other countries. It delivers training that is both practical and career-oriented. Students can develop their own career path through study and a mix of study and work.
VET courses are provided by both public institutions called TAFE Institutes and private colleges. All institutes and colleges are subject to Government monitoring to ensure high standards.
Australian VET graduates are able to seek employment with the knowledge that their skills are those demanded by employers. Under Australia's national qualifications framework graduates can also progress into higher level courses including entry into universities for Diploma and Bachelor degree courses. 
The qualifications offered at vocational education and training institutions are Certificates I-IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma.





4-6 months

Prepares students for a variety of employment related skills including preparatory access and participation skills, broad-based induction skills, and may include specific workplace skills possibly in a team environment.


6-8 months

Provides a student with the knowledge and skills to perform a range of varied activities or knowledge application. Applications may include some complex or non-routine activities involving individual responsibility, possibly in collaboration with others as part of a team.


12 months

The student acquires a breadth, depth and complexity of knowledge and competencies. Applications may involve The student will be capable of providing technical advice and some leadership in resolving problems in a range of environments. Participation in teams including group or team coordination may be involved.


12-18 months

Students acquire leadership and guiding skills to others, he is expected to accept responsibility for others and demonstrate limited organisational skills.


Australian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) is a government owned and operated education system that offers courses in almost every field of study. There are more than 230 government TAFE colleges around Australia that offer courses at certificate, diploma and advanced diploma levels. Many TAFE courses will lead to credit transfer arrangements at Australian universities so you can earn credit towards a bachelors degree. Some TAFE courses are only a few weeks while others may take up to three years to complete. Some TAFE colleges are located in cities, while others are in rural areas. Most courses start in February, however, some may also start in July.

TAFE courses emphasise practical and professional learning that will help you get a job. 

English Courses

You can learn English in Australia as part of a formal course that prepares you for accredited levels English language recognised by education and immigration authories around the world. 

Specialist English language tuition is offered by more than 170 institutions located all over Australia, in the major cities and country centres. All have modern language laboratories, university qualified instructors, video and library facilities, and many have computer-assisted learning facilities for teaching English. Institutions cater for all standards, from beginner to advanced, through the training of teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). The wide variety of specialist courses offered by Australian institutions means that there is a course to suit your level and your interest.
You can learn English in Australia as part of a formal course that prepares you for accredited levels English language recognised by education and immigration authories around the world. Alternatively, you can do a short course to improve your English language skills while visiting Australia as part of a holiday.

English Language Training courses

Students can enrol at any time during the year. Full-time course duration generally ranges from four to 48 weeks and courses are taught at all levels of proficiency from beginner to advanced.


General English

Improves practical English skills for work or travel. The courses develop communication skills, particularly speaking and listening skills, in a wide range of formal and informal situations.

English for Academic Purposes

Prepares international students to undertake further studies in an English speaking environment. This course incorporates reading and writing skills for academic purposes, presentation skills and an introduction to research skills.

Secondary School Preparation

Examination Preparation

Prepares international students to undertake international examinations such as IELTS, Cambridge and TOEFL.

English for Special Purposes

Provides English language skills in the context of specific environments or vocations. Courses include English for Business, International Relations, the Hospitality and Tourism Industry, Health Professionals, and Computing and Information Technology.

Study Tour Programs

Tailored for individuals or groups and provides the opportunity to learn English while enjoying travelling and exploring the many unique features of Australia. Some centres combine English language classes with sporting activities, such as scuba diving, golf, horse riding and sailing.

In Australia we certify English language proficiency against the major internationally recognised tests including:

English Language Tests

Cambridge Test      

Preferred by European students

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Preferred by Asian students not wishing to apply for further study in Australia

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Most popular with students aiming at further education in Australia, and is now the preferred test for entry into Australian universities as, apart from its academic focus, it is the only test accepted by the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs for student visa purposes


Each secondary school in Australia determines its own assessment method. In the final year of school you are assessed through a mixture of school-based and external exams. The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education is issued on the basis of the final results. Universities use these certificates as an admission guideline.

Assessment methods for vocational education and training institutions and for coursework programs at universities vary. You may be assessed by examination towards the end of each semester and/or academic year, by continuous assessment through essays, presentations and tests or a combination of these.

Assessment of a postgraduate research student is made by a committee that evaluates the quality of the student's thesis. The committee may ask you to take an oral examination to support your thesis.


Students at Australian universities and colleges attend lectures, tutorials, seminars, as well as conducting independent research in libraries or laboratories. You will be encouraged to collect and analyse data by yourself or in teams, to ask questions, to develop an argument in a logical form and to participate in discussion and debate with other students and lecturers.
This means students are active learners in Australia, and don't just passively listen and rote learn. Most colleges and universities can help you with study skills so you can adapt to the Australian way of learning.




Class X
Class XII
Graduation (3 yrs)
Post Graduation
Ph D

High  School
Year 12 Certificate
Graduate Diploma
Masters Degree

Studying in Australia : Things that you ought  to know

What will classes be like?

An  international student is likely  to find the Australian education system vastly different from what he/she is used to in his/her own country. The primary difference being that you as a student will have control of your own study programme, lots of freedom and flexibility and you will be expected to undergo a good deal of independent study. Australian  universities believe in developing independent, creative and analytical thinking.

Students in Australia take an active part in the  learning process rather than passive listening and rote learning. Class participation is an assessed component in some courses. Students are expected  to conduct  independent research, collect and analysedata by      themselves or in teams, raise questions develop an argument in a logical form, and participate in discussions and debates with teachers and students.

The method of instruction includes lectures to large groups of upto 200 students  with little teacher-student interaction. The core information is given here and the students take notes. Tutorials are conducted  with groups of 15-20 students, with a lot of  teacher-student interaction.Seminars are conducted amidst small groups concentrating on specific subtopics.

A student is also expected to spend substantial amount of time in libraries and laboratories, conducting his/her own research. He/she is expected to organise his /her own time in this regard. At university some lectures will be repeated within the same week so that you can attend  at the time that suits you best.


Australian institutions tend not to place as much emphasis on final exams as institutions in other countries. The students are usually assessed on a combination of exams, assignments, essays, projects and class participation. There are even courses which do not require the students to sit for final exams at all. Usually such courses are based on practical skills such as design. Some courses require formal presentation. Many postgraduate students will be assessed by their thesis, depending upon the type of studies they undertake.


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