Education in Australia

The education system in Australia is open to all people. It offers an opportunity for all age groups and levels of ability. You can get into any level of education if you have the entry requirements. If at first you do not reach the entry standard, then you can do other study to get to the standard. Help is available for all people who suffer disadvantage.

School is compulsory for all children aged between five and fifteen years. These ages may vary slightly in some states. The government provides public schools. Churches and other groups provide private schooling. Public schooling is free and users pay fees for private schooling.
Note: Students holding temporary visas may be required to pay full school fees. Check with individual schools for details.

The positions in higher education have entry levels that students must achieve to get them. The people most likely to succeed get the positions first. Some students start when they finish school. Other students start study later as an adult.

Many employers provide training that helps their employees to do their job. You may do a study course for interest only. People living in Australia are encouraged to join in and gain more education throughout their life.


What is the Australian Education System?

Each state government manages the school system within their state. This means that they provide funds and regulation for their schools. Both public schools and private schools exist in each state. The curriculum taught in each state or school may vary but the learning areas are the same in all.

Each state has a Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system. VET prepares people for work in a career that does not need a university degree. Each state manages their system and meets at a national level to coordinate their effort. VET is transferable between all states. Study done in one state gains the same status in another state. Typically, a VET/TAFE course takes two years of study.

The national government provides the funding for universities in all the states. Each is independent in its governance. They set their courses and course content. A professional body must endorse a course for it to run. Typically, a university course takes three or four years of study.

In the work place employers use agreed courses and outcomes to set standards of training for employment. Many parts of industry and business provide ongoing work place training for their employees. Some of this training can count towards a qualification.

People who are educated overseas can gain recognition of their training. This may help them to get employment.







Education in Australia is a lifetime experience. Some form of school or training is available at each stage of life.


Pre-school is for children between three and five years old. Pre-school is usually part time. It is not compulsory. Pre-school is a gentle start for very young children to mix with their peers and to be apart from family for some time.

Primary school

Primary school begins for most children at age five. It is compulsory. Eight themes form the basis of learning in primary school. They are English, Health and Physical Education, Language other than English, Maths, Science, Society and Environment, Technology, and The Arts. At primary school children begin to mix in larger groups of their peers where they learn about respect for each other. A major part of primary school learning is the skill to live in harmony with each other. Most children attend a primary school close to where they live. In general, students attend school between 9 am and 3 pm for 40 weeks a year. Students wear a uniform at most schools. Children take their lunch and snacks to school or buy food at the canteen.

Secondary school

Secondary school is for older children. Most children start secondary school soon after they reach their teens. In early secondary school, students do core subjects such as English, Maths and Science. They study more subjects called electives. Students do electives to prepare for later study or because the subject is of interest to them. In later secondary school, they choose subjects that will help them in their future career. Students learn about healthy lifestyle and about becoming young adults in a diverse society. The government builds secondary schools in places to service a number of suburbs. Students may need to travel by public or private transport to get to a secondary school. In general, students attend school between 9am and 3pm for 40 weeks a year. Students wear a uniform at most schools and provide their own food.

Vocational education

People use the terms Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) when they talk about the vocational education systems. VET and TAFE provide courses that focus on work skills. The education given by VET / TAFE prepares people for work in many occupations. There are many courses taught at TAFE. You can find vocational education colleges spread over many parts of large cities. Each college delivers a selection of courses. Students pay a fee to do a VET / TAFE course. Some employers join with VET / TAFE to train their employees. Adults who wish to do school study can do it at a vocational education college. This way they can study at a time and location that better suits them. They can study with other adults.

Workplace training

Many employers provide work skill training in the workplace. Some provide this training in partnership with a TAFE college. The training makes the trainees better at doing their work and prepares them for further work. Employers usually pay for such training.


Universities are teaching and research institutions. They exist in large cities and in regional areas in all states. Students gain entry on high school results. Mature age students gain entry based on their chance of success in their chosen course. A full range of academic and professional courses is available. Future students can view the 'Going to Uni' website for more about topics such as courses, fees, loans and enrolment.

Adult and community education

Adult and community education programs are for fun and general interest. This form of education covers many subject matter areas. The providers hold the courses in the community for easy access by all. They keep fees as low as possible. Courses are short. There are no restrictions put on entry to a course.