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Education in Australia

Education in Australia

Early, primary and secondary education

Generally, school education in Australia lasts for 13 years and comprises a preparatory year before Year 1, primary school (six years) and secondary school (six years). A preparatory preschool years is not compulsory but is strongly promoted by the Australian Government through initiatives aimed at providing universal access to quality early childhood education. School education is compulsory until the age of 15 or 16, with a number of states currently reviewing this age provision.

The Australian government also promotes early learning in its support of approved child care services operating under a quality based system. More than a million children participated in approved child care in 2006 – 2007.

In Australia, about 3.4 million students attend 9581 schools, 71.5% of which are run by State and Territory governments. These schools account for 66.4% of students. There are 244 358 school teachers in Australia. Total recurrent public funding (Australian Government and state and territory government) for all schools is about $31.5 billion per year.

The Australian Government has a leadership role in identifying and promoting national standards and priorities for students. Key objectives include advancing higher standards in schooling through greater national consistency and accountability; enriching the quality of teaching; ensuring safe and supportive school environments; and providing targeted assistance to enable equity to access to education.

Tertiary education

There are two types of tertiary education programs: those offered by institutions, private training providers and industry in the vocational education and training (VET) sector; and those offered by universities and higher education providers.

Australia’s VET system provides individuals with skills required in a modern economy and delivers competency-based training that is practical and career oriented. The VET system is highly advanced, following a decade of continuous reform. In the regulated VET systems, industry based qualifications are delivered by registered training organisations. These include public institutions called TAFE institutes and private colleges. VET qualifications are designed to provide students with nationally recognised competencies that employers have identified as critical to their needs. Students achieve a qualification only after meeting the set competency standards.

Australian universities have an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, with academic staff recruited from Australia and around the world. Universities and other higher education institutions offer programs leading to a bachelor’s degree and a range of postgraduate degrees, including higher degrees by research. Some universities also offer shorter undergraduate and corporate development programs. 


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