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Australian education system at a glance

Know how the Australian education system works!

When you choose to study in Australia, you can be assured of unparalleled quality of education, internationally-recognised qualification and immense employment prospects. Universities in Australia are renowned for their research and training methodologies, and this makes it a popular destination among Indian students.

The academic excellence, campus life and qualified instructors are other key reasons behind Australian universities being ranked in the QS World Ranking and Times Higher Education Rankings consistently. It has well-structured curriculum that focuses on varied skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, literacy, analytical thinking ability, ethical understanding and more.

Plus, Australia offers a variety of courses – you can choose from 22,000 types of courses available in over 1,100 institutions; and hosts the five best student cities in the world including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
The unique factor of the Australian education system is its implementation of Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), the national policy established in 1995 that specifies the standards of qualifications for the tertiary education sector (higher education, vocational education and training) in addition to the school leaving certificate, called the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. With AQF, your degree is recognised and authorised by the government.

Under the AQF, there are 10 levels that interconnects various schools, colleges, universities and educational institutions in one single national system. This allows flexibility, choice and better career planning for students to move from one study level to another as long as their student visa requirements are fulfilled. 

Study levels in Australia
The education system in Australia is three-tiered with primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education. Here’s an overview of the different levels and qualifications available as per the AQF.

Levels and qualifications as per Australian Qualification Framework (AQF)

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

Source: https://www.aqf.edu.au/aqf-levels

The highest level of education in Australia is the university level. You can choose from 43 universities, 40 out of which are government funded, two are international universities and one is a private university. You may opt for bachelor degrees or postgraduate courses which can comprise certificate, postgraduate diploma, master and doctoral programs.

Students can also enrol for vocational courses that work as a gateway to university education or industry for work. These courses focus on practical skills and industry training and are offered by government-funded institutions (including TAFE - Technical and Further Education) and private establishments.

Higher education
Provided at university level, higher education comprises bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. The skills and knowledge acquired at these levels makes a student ready to work in the industry eventually.

Fee structure
The average tuition fees at one of Australia’s tertiary institutions ranges between AUD$20,000 and AUD$30,000 a year. Find out more about the cost of studying in Australia in detail here.

Financial aid
Indian students can apply to several government, public as well as institution specific scholarships. Application requirements and guidelines are available on the official website of your institution or respective funding organisation. Students are recommended to check the same before applying. Know more about the available grants, scholarships and bursaries here

Pedagogy in Australian classrooms
The Australian education emphasises on practical knowledge, hands-on experience and getting you job-ready. Universities in Australia provide a research-based learning approach wherein you’ll be implementing all the concepts and ideas you gather in the classroom.

VET (Vocational and Technical Schools)
Australian education system allows its students to enrol for vocational courses that lets them skip university education and apply directly to jobs. These courses primarily focus on practical learning and industry skills unlike the regular courses that rely heavily on theoretical and in-depth knowledge. A lot of schools provide courses in technical and further education (TAFE) and vocational education and training (VET). Keep in mind that courses mostly provide certifications, diploma or advanced diploma. Some of the popular industries that VET students can look at include manufacturing, hospitality, sports, tourism, business and marketing.

Pathway programs – Your bridge to higher education in Australia
International students may require additional support and assistance to get accustomed to the education system and teaching approach of Australia. Henceforth, a lot of pathway programs to higher education that comprise of foundation courses and English language programs are available.

Academic intakes
Unlike a single intake in the Indian universities, Australian colleges and universities offer two major intakes. Intakes may also be referred to as a semester in some universities. The two intakes available in Australia are:

  • Semester 1:  Starts late February/early March to late May/early June
  • Semester 2: Starts late July/early August through to November

The Australian high school system commences in late January or early February whereas the vocational courses and university programs begin around February. While the school system has three to four terms, universities have two semesters. Students can enjoy a 2-4 week break between the two semesters, the summer one being the longer one. Read up about these intakes in detail here.

English language training
Since Australia is an English-speaking country and all your instructions in the classroom takes place in English, it is essential to be proficient in this language. In case you have limited proficiency, you may be advised to enrol in an English language before you start your program. You can choose from over 100 private English language centres in the country.

Postgraduate study
Both universities and private colleges offer postgraduate courses in Australia. A master’s degree has three formats – Master’s degree (coursework), Master’s degree (research) and Master’s degree (extended). Similarly, on doctorate level, there are two formats- Research doctorate (PhD) and Professional doctorate. Admission criteria at post graduate level is quite competitive including high levels of English language proficiency, and remarkable academic qualifications. You should also know that some courses like architecture and medicine are only offered by universities.

Popular programs

Health and Science

Business and Management

Law

Medicines

Arts and Design

Education and Teaching

Accounting

Engineering

Computer Science and IT

Engineering and management


Post-study work opportunities
Australia provides ample employment prospects after graduation. You can apply for subclass 485 temporary graduate visa on completion of your studies that will allow you to remain and study further/work in Australia. If you wish to further your studies, you can apply for the next level of study since there is no dearth of right courses and programs for the suitable candidate.

Some interesting facts about Australian education

1

The Education Index, published by the United Nations listed Australia as 0.993 in 2006, the highest in the world.

2

In 2017, Australia had 526,932 international students from over 90 countries.

3

An international student is more likely to enrol in a course registered under CRICOS (the registration that indicates that the course and institution meets academic excellence standard of the Australian education system).

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