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Australian higher education for undergraduates

With its top quality education, Australia is a hot spot for international students. In fact, a recent survey showed that almost 500,000 international students were studying in Australia, with most of them enrolled in the higher education sector.

So, if you are thinking of studying in Australia, but don't know where to start, here's what you need to know about the Australian higher education system.

Where can I find undergraduate courses in Australia?

Australia’s higher education sector includes universities, private colleges, and some TAFE institutes. Courses like medicine, engineering, law and architecture are only offered by universities, while vocational programs such as carpentry and hairdressing are offered by TAFE (Technical and Further Education). 

What’s the difference between TAFE and universities in Australia?

The public vocational system, or 'TAFE', offers qualifications such as Certificates I, II, III and IV, as well as diplomas and advanced diplomas. If you prefer hands-on learning or you want to immerse yourself in the industry, TAFE will most likely be of interest to you.

Universities, on the other hand, offer tertiary qualifications from bachelor degrees all the way up to doctorates. If you want to master the theory behind the practical knowledge, rather than building your practical skills, university is something you should look into.

What are the most common undergraduate qualifications in Australia?

Below are the two main types of undergraduate qualifications offered by most higher education institutions:

  • Bachelor degree: Generally, bachelor degrees take three years of full time study unless there is a fast-track system that lets students complete the three-year degree in only two years. 
  • Bachelor degree (honours): Some bachelor degrees may require another year on top of the usual three years. The fourth year is usually referred to as 'honours', where students need to submit a research-based thesis. This honours qualification will then be included as part of the degree, for example, Psychology with Honours. In some degrees, however, honours can be obtained by way of a very high grade point average, without the need to complete an additional year.

What’s the average tuition cost for an undergraduate course in Australia?

While tuition fees vary depending on the institution and course, the average cost of a bachelor degree usually ranges anywhere from $15,000 to $33,000. However, professional courses, particularly in medical fields, may be much more expensive. Each year, the cost of these courses does increase by between 5 and 10%.

What are the entry requirements for studying in Australia?

International students need to meet a range of entry requirements before they can study in Australia. This may include:

  • English language requirements – students should be able to show that their English language proficiency not only meets the requirements of their student visa, but also their preferred institution’s minimum entry requirements. Before applying, it's important to check the course entry requirements to understand the IELTS score they require for entry. 
  • Academic requirements – students need to complete either the high school certificate (Year 12) or the overseas equivalent and include evidence of their English language skills. Also, you should note that some universities have their own specific pre-requisite subjects for each of their undergraduate courses. 

If you need advice about this, you can speak with one of our student services offices.


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