University is the highest level of study in Australia. Study can be undertaken at an 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.
Vocational institutions include skill-based courses which are closely linked to selected industries and give students practical skills and industry experience. Courses are provided at both government funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and private institutions. Many vocational institutes have links and agreements with universities. Through these links, universities may offer up to one year of advanced standing into a Bachelor degree as well as guaranteed entry into your course when you achieve the required grades at your vocational institution. Many of the courses provide advanced standing into university degrees.
Australian schools are either government or privately funded. The schooling system is separated into two levels: primary and secondary. Primary school is undertaken by students between the ages of 6 and 12 years and secondary school is undertaken by students between the ages of 13 and 18 years. School is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 to 15 after which students may choose to continue their secondary study (up until the age of 18), leave secondary school to enter the workforce or enrol in vocational courses.
There are approximately 100 private English language centres in Australia. Courses in English can be taken for a variety of reasons including study, travel, immigration or business purposes. English courses can also be undertaken at some universities and TAFE institutions.
The Australian academic year begins in early February for school students and late February/early March for vocational and university students. Most schools have three or four terms a year. Unlike the school system, universities and vocational institutes have two semesters with exams held at the end of each semester in June and November, followed by a two-to-four-week break. The long summer holiday break is from November to February.
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, students can be sure that your institution is Government-authorised and nationally accredited, and that your degree or other AQF qualification will be genuine.