The higher education system of Australia has both government and private institutions in it. If a university or college is seen as part of the higher education system (also known as tertiary education), then it was either established by or is recognized by the Australian government as a tertiary institution. Higher education programs include all of the schools that cover Levels I through 10 according to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
The Australian education system provides primary, secondary and tertiary education.
School education (Primary and Secondary)
School education is similar across all of Australia with only minor variations between states and territories. School education (primary and secondary) is compulsory between the ages of six and sixteen (Year 1 to Year 9 or 10). School education is 13 years and divided into:
- 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 includes both higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET).
Language of instruction
English is the official language of Australia and the main language of instruction in the education system. Many schools offer bilingual programs or programs in other languages.
Australian Qualifications Framework
The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). (opens in a new window) The AQF was established in 1995 and is a national policy that covers qualifications from the tertiary education sector (higher education and vocational education and training) in addition to the school-leaving certificate; the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.
The AQF has 10 levels and links school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system. This allows you 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.
If you are studying an AQF qualification, you can be sure that your institution is Government-authorised and nationally accredited, and that your degree or other AQF qualification will be genuine.