Australia Education

The Australia Education system is regarded as one of the world's best and Australian school teachers are well qualified and highly regarded on an international level. It aims to give all students, regardless of gender, race or religion, the knowledge and skills they need to excel in the rapidly changing world.

Use our Australian immigration online assessment to find out how you can move to this world-class education system.

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Schools in the Australia Education system encourage parental involvement and actively assist Australian immigration by helping newcomers settle in their new lives. For new families who have children or teenaged kids and are interested in Australian immigration, it is good to know this support is available.  We assist with every aspect of your move to Australia.

Sectors of schooling

The Australian education system is broadly divided into five main areas:

  • Preschool
  • Primary school
  • Secondary school
  • University
  • Career and vocational training


Preschool generally refers to education that is provided for children in the year prior to their first year of full-time primary school.

Preschool is largely seasonal, and operates only during school terms for children from 3 years old till school starting age.

Preschools may be operated by government, community organisations or the private sector.

Primary school

Primary school is for ages 6 to 11/12.

Secondary school

Secondary school is for ages 12 to 16 years. Year 11 and 12 are the senior secondary levels that must be completed for university entrance.

Schooling is compulsory for students in most states and territories until the age of 15. Although students are able to leave at that time, most students stay at school until they complete their Year 10 qualification, with many students continuing on to complete their Year 12 studies.


There are 39 universities in Australia ranging in size from around 3,000 students to 50,000 students - the majority of these universities are government run.

Australian universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in traditional and modern subject areas such as innovative courses in IT, electronic business and science.

University courses begin early in March and finish in late November. The year is divided into two semesters with some universities offering mid-year entry at the beginning of the second semester. A few universities have a trimester system.

International students are well-supported by Australian universities, with a large number of students obtaining visas to study in Australia each year.

Career and Vocational Training

The Australian vocational education and training system is increasingly  seen as a world leader.

It offers a range of qualifications that are recognised in the workplace, and vocational institutions are closely linked with industry. Courses are developed in consultation with industry organisations and employers.

Courses are offered at private institutions or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes. They vary from six months to three years.

The School Year

The Australian school year, which starts in January and ends in December, is made up of two six-month semesters each with two terms.

Courses are structured into six or three month units.

Private vs. public schooling

Children can be educated at either public (state government) or private (independent) schools throughout Australia.

About 30% of school-age children (mainly at the secondary level) attend 'private' or 'independent' schools, which charge tuition fees, and in many cases are run by religious organisations.

Many private schools provide boarding accommodation and usually cater for boys and girls separately.

Although the majority of these schools charge low fees there is still a significant proportion with fees in excess of AUS$10,000 per annum for day students and AUS$20,000 for boarders.

Most leading fee-paying schools have preparatory sections.

Education at public schools is free in most states, although most schools have a small voluntary annual fee to cover extra activities.

Parents of children at public schools may also have to purchase such items as books and uniforms and pay for outings and camps etc.

Most public schools are coeducational, with girls and boys encouraged to participate equally in class.

Enrolling children into school

To enrol children in a school, contact the school by telephone or in person.

Applicants will need to take their visa or entry documents, proof of date of birth and any papers including school reports relating to their previous education.

Applicants may also need to show immunisation documents.

If a family is planning to send their children to a public school, their choice will be limited by where they choose to live, particularly at primary school age.

The Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs website has links to the state and territory government education department sites, which in turn will enable you to access websites of individual schools in the area where you intend to live.

If a family is planning on sending their children to a private school a good place to start researching is the website of the Association of Independent Schools in the state or territory in which they will be living.