In general, Australian children can attend school at the age of five. Primary school goes from Preparatory to Year 6. This follows by 6 years of secondary school. The school year normally runs from late January / early February to December. There is a short holiday between terms and a long summer holiday in December and January.
All schools accepting international students must be government-registered and have to meet special requirements under Australian Government legislation ensuring high educational standards, satisfactory premises and financial protection. Another requirement is to provide, or have access to, specialist English language support.
Teachers are highly qualified and encourage students to develop their own ideas and opinions within a broad educational curriculum. Class sizes are small and schools have state of the art technology and access to the Internet.
Australia has developed a national curriculum framework to ensure high academic standards across the country. Students can select courses from eight key learning areas:
- The Arts
- Health and Physical Education
- 41 Languages – as well as English as second language
- Studies of Society and the Environment – Geography, History, Commerce
TAFE stands for Technical and Further Education and offers a wide range of vocational education as well as a secure pathway to university. In many countries institutes are called Polytechnics, Community Colleges or Institutes of Technology. There are more than 80 TAFE Institutes in Australia with a total enrolment of over 1.7 million students, making the TAFE sector one of the largest educational sectors in Australia.
TAFE courses are practical and vocational, providing a distinct advantage when it comes to employment – they are designed in conjunction with industry.
TAFE courses are for everyone who wants to enter the workforce, upgrade their existing skills, or acquire skills based on the newest technologies. TAFE qualifications provide students with guaranteed entry to universities – with advanced standing.
All TAFE Institutes are Government institutions. Courses are accredited by the Victorian and Australian Governments and qualifications are recognised both in Australia and oversea.
The terms University and Degree are protected in Australia so that only institutions which meet Australia's rigorous quality assurance processes can use the titles.
Australian universities are internationally known for the quality of teaching and research. They are largely publicly funded; as a result they are of a consistently high quality, regardless of location or area of study. As well, they all retain a high degree of academic autonomy.
Full-time student enrolments at individual universities range from over 30,000 to less than 1,000. In addition, most universities have a large number of part-time or continuing education students. They offer a broad range of courses and a full range of degrees from undergraduate to doctorates. Fees for universities differ depending on the state, institution and program of study. Each university sets its own admission standards and assesses the qualifications of each applicant individually.