Education system in Australia

The Australian education system provides primary, secondary and tertiary education.

School education (Primary and Secondary)

Education in Australia is managed by the second tier of government and compulsory through to age 15 to 17 depending on the state or territory. It is provided through a variety of government and private schools some with religious affiliations.

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

Tertiary education includes both higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET). Tertiary education takes place at university or technical college of which there are many – some religious, some private and some centrally controlled.

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.