Education System


School education (Primary and Secondary)

School education is 13 years

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

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

VET are skill-based courses which are linked to given industries and provide students with practical skills and industry experience. Allow students to gain qualifications for various types of employment, and also to acquire specific skills to help them in the future workplace.

Tertiary education

Higher education (including universities)

University is the highest level of study in Australia. There are two levels: undergraduate level (Bachelor Degree) and/or a postgraduate level (Graduate Certificate, Diploma, Masters, PhD). Australia has 41 universities, 38 of which are government funded and three privately funded.

English Language Cources

General English
English for Academic Purposes
English for Specific Purposes
Examination Preparation

Australia offers a range of English courses to suit a range of study needs. There are a range of English language testing organizations whose results are recognized in Australia and around the world.

Australia offers a diverse range of study options for international students, with more than 1,100 institutions and over 22,000 courses.

You can study at all levels of education from primary and secondary school, to vocational education and training (VET), from English language courses to higher education (including universities).

Regardless of what you are studying or how long you are studying for, Australia’s laws promote quality education and protection for international students.

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)

The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

AQF allows 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.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) refers to the 14 qualifications awarded in Australian school, VET and higher education sectors.  The AQF also refers to the set of policies that regulate those qualifications.  Lastly the AQF refers to the integration of all those 14 qualifications from the school, VET and higher education sectors into one comprehensive qualifications framework.  The AQF is a shared responsibility of all Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.  AQF provides the standards for Australian qualifications and underpins confidence in Australia’s education and training system.

The AQF levels define the relative complexity and depth of achievement and the autonomy required of graduates to demonstrate that achievement.  As can be seen in the table above there are 10 levels in the AQF with level 1 having the lowest complexity and level 10 the highest complexity. The levels are defined by criteria expressed as learning outcomes.  The learning outcomes are constructed as a taxonomy of what graduates are expected to know, understand and be able to do as a result of learning.  They are expressed in terms of the dimensions of knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills.

A qualification normally offered in one sector may be provided by an institution in a different sector.  For example, some Senior Secondary Schools offer and confer Certificate courses to Year 12 students, or a VET provider may offer Senior Secondary Certificate of Education to adult students, or a University may offer Diploma courses.

Australian education courses that are not covered under the AQF:

English language courses (ELICOS) – Although not covered under AQF, a National ELICOS Standards exist to assure the quality of and regulate the ELICOS being provided to overseas students.  ESOS agencies in School, VET and Higher Education sectors administer the mandate of the Standards.

Foundation studies – Like ELICOS, a National Standards for Foundation Programs exist to regulate and quality assure the delivery of Foundation courses to international students.  Foundations programs are delivered by either a VET or Higher Education provider and as such ASQA and TEQSA administer compliance to the Standards.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program – The IB Diploma is an alternative to the regular curriculum that leads to a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education qualification.  Its curriculum, quality and delivery are governed by the International Baccalaureate organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Table below summarizes the different AQF qualifications in different levels and sectors.

AQF Level School Vocational Education and Training Higher Education
Senior Secondary Certificate of Education
Level 01 Certificate 1
Level 02 Certificate 2
Level 03 Certificate 3
Level 04 Certificate 4
Level 05 Diploma
Level 06 Advanced Diploma
Associate Degree
Level 07 Bachelor Degree
Level 08 Bachelor Honours Degree
Graduate Certificate
Graduate Diploma
Level 09 Masters Degree
Level 10 Doctoral Degree

Study Australia Marketing Toolkit

Study Australia is the Australian Government’s official resource for international students.

The Study Australia website – trusted source of information for prospective international students, their families and agents to learn more about Australia as a place to study.

Study in Australia website contains carefully curated, practical and reliable information to help students make informed decisions about where they’d like to study in Australia, which course and institution best suits their needs, and what the experience can be like when they live and study here.

It also sets out to reassure prospective students about the laws, legislations and specialist services in place in Australia, which ensure every individual feels safe, welcomed, supported and protected for the entire time they’re in Australia.

All Australian state and territory study destinations work in partnership with Austrade and other Australian government agencies to deliver information and services to international students.

State and Territory agencies and Study Australia partners

Australian Government Departments and Agencies

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