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Australian education system at a glance

Let’s find out how the Australian Education System Works!

Choosing Australia as your destination for educational excellence will expose you to a hub of unparalleled quality of education, internationally-recognized qualification and immense employment prospects; as Australian universities are renowned for their research and training methodologies.

Australian Universities excel in academics, campus infrastructure, and qualified professors and instructors. The former enable these universities in being ranked in the QS World Ranking and Times Higher Education Rankings consistently. Australian universities follow a strict and well-structured curriculum that focuses on various skills such as creative writing, critical thinking, effective communication, analytical thinking, and ethical understanding. In addition to this, Australian institutes offer a variety of courses; one you choose from 22,000 different types of courses available in over 1,100 universities.

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)

The national policy established in 1995, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), is the unique factor of the Australian education system. This policy is implemented in various universities across the country; including those in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane. This national policy helps students to be able to earn a degree that is recognized and authorized by the Australian government. Also, under the AQF, there are 10 levels that interconnect various universities and educational institutions in one single national system; therefore allowing flexibility of choice and better career planning for students. Thus, students can move from one study level to another as long as their student visa requirements are fully accomplished.

Study levels in Australia

The education system in Australia is amongst the three major sectors: primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education. Below is an an overview of the different levels of education and their qualifications available as per the AQF.

The levels and qualifications according to the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) are:

  • Level 1 Certificate I
  • Level 2 Certificate II
  • Level 3 Certificate III
  • Level 4 Certificate IV
  • Level 5 Diploma
  • Level 6 Advanced Diploma, , Associate Degree
  • Level 7 Bachelor Degree
  • Level 8 Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma
  • Level 9 Master’s Degree
  • Level 10 Doctoral Degree

There are 43 universities, 40 out of which are funded by the government, two are international universities and one is a private university. The highest level of education in Australia is university level. Students, especially international students, opt for bachelor degrees or postgraduate courses which include a certificate, postgraduate diploma, master and doctoral programs.

Students can also enroll for vocational training courses that work as a gateway to university education or industrial for work. These courses focus on important skill-sets and industry training courses which and offer by government-funded institutions (including TAFE - Technical and Further Education) and private establishments.

Higher education

Higher education comprises bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees; which are provided at university level. The skills and knowledge acquired at these levels make a student ready to work in the industry in the near future.

Fee structure

The Australian Government advises AUD$19,830 for an individual student, in terms of yearly living expenses. Accommodation costs are also a large component of living expenses; an allowance should be made for recreation, emergencies and health expenses not covered by Overseas Student Health Cover. Another factor which may affect one’s budget is exchange rate fluctuations. Therefore, having credible knowledge regarding Australia’s average living cost is essential for a student’s financial preparation.

The average ranging tuition fees found in most of Australia’s educational institutions is approximately between AUD$20,000 and AUD$30,000 a year.


The Australian education system lays emphasis on general knowledge, real life experience and making you fully prepared for the corporate world. Australian universities support learning through research, and they willingly follow this approach where a student will be effectively carrying out all the conceptual ideas that they will have gathered through lectures in the classrooms.

Vocational and Technical Schools

Australian Universities allow, as well as often encourage, its students to enroll for vocational and technical courses that enable them to not apply for a university education plus degree, but they can apply directly for a job. The students of these courses aim to focus on practical learning and look forward to developing industry skills (unlike ordinary course-work which relies deeply on theoretical and in-depth qualitative data). Many Australian universities themselves provide these courses in technical and further education (TAFE) and vocational education and training (VET). However, it is absolutely important for a student to remember that such courses only provide you with a certification, diploma or advanced diploma (and not an advanced degree). Pupils of VET usually search for courses such as:

  • Manufacturing
  • Hospitality
  • Sports
  • Tourism
  • Business
  • Marketing

Pathway programs

Pathway programs are a student’s bridge to higher education in Australia. Consequently, international students may need extra guidance and assistance to become comfortable with the education system and academic approach taken by most Australian universities. Thus, numerous pathway programs to higher education include foundational learning and foundation courses, including English language programs as well, all of which are easily available.

Academic intakes

Australian academic institutions and universities provide two major intakes (which may also be known to some as a semester in some universities). The two semesters available in Australia are:

  1. Semester 1: Begins in Late February either/or Early March to late May either/or Early June.
  2. Semester 2: Begins in Late July either/or Early August through to November.

The Australian high school system begins in late January or early February, on the other hand, the vocational training courses and university programs begin in February. Also, the school system has three to four terms and universities have two semesters. Students can have fun and enjoy in their 2-4 week breaks between the two semesters (the summer break one is longer).

English Language Programs

Australia is a country with English as its first, as well as national, language. Therefore it is incredibly important for international students, who are coming into the country, must know how to read and speak English. All instructions in the classroom, supermarkets, public restrooms, airport, malls, sidewalks, offices, etc. will all be in English. Thus, it is essential to be able to proficiently speak in this language. However, if in case an individual may have limited proficiency in the English language, then they are heavily recommended to apply for an English language course before they begin their program. One can select from around a hundred private English language centers in Australia.

Postgraduate study

Most Australian universities and private colleges give the option of postgraduate courses in Australia. Now we shall explain to you how a master’s degree has three forums:

  1. Master’s degree (coursework)
  2. Master’s degree (research)
  3. Master’s degree (extended)

Complementarily, on a doctorate level, there are two formats:

  1. Research doctorate (PhD)
  2. Professional doctorate

The admission criteria at post graduate level are very competitive. These involve high levels of English language proficiency, remarkable academic qualifications, and fast quantitative data collection skills. One must should have knowledge regarding a few courses, such as architecture and medicine, are only offered by universities.

Post-study Work Visa

Australian institutions offer numerous employment opportunities post-graduation, for instance: one can apply for subclass 485 temporary graduate visas on completion of your studies. This will allow you to remain and further study and/or work in Australia. If you wish to further advance your academic achievements, you can then apply for the next level of study since there is no shortage of courses and programs for candidates

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