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Education in Australia is a fast growing market which caters not only to its own population but also attracts huge number of international students. Boasting a literacy rate of 99%, the country has a well-developed and structured education system. Implementing practical learning and inculcating an understanding of different topics, are the mainstays of the education system, through which it nurtures the minds of the young students.

So, let’s take a quick look at the different tiers and aspects of the Australian education system.

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Primary Education

Primary education starts at Kindergarten or Preparatory school and continues until the grade 6 or 7. Its duration is 7 to 8 years. During these years, the students are provided with foundational knowledge with a focus on development of essential literacy, numeracy and social skills.

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Secondary Education

It begins at grade 7 and ends at 10, running over a duration of 3-4 years. More specialized knowledge of the subjects is imparted during the secondary education. Australia places high importance to the education of young children and has made Primary and secondary education compulsory for all the children between the ages of six and sixteen.

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Senior Secondary Education

Senior secondary education runs for a duration of 2 years and constitutes grade 11 and 12.

The school education constituting the primary, secondary and senior secondary is provided by both Government as well as privately owned institutions. Commonwealth constitution places the primary responsibility of education on state and territory governments. After the completion of senior secondary education, the students are awarded with a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education using which they can enroll in institutes of higher education or vocational training.

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Tertiary Education

Tertiary education comprises of Higher education and Vocational education and training (VET).

Higher education

Australia has a highly developed higher education system which requires intensive study over a long duration enabling the individuals to hone their capabilities and preparing them to become able contributors to the workforce. The higher education sector of Australia offers a wide range of programs that are regarded both nationally and internationally. There are over 40 universities in Australia which rank high in terms of student satisfaction, quality of life and employability. The students can opt for bachelors, master and doctoral degrees depending upon their interests.

Higher education sector is also funded by Federal, State or Territory governments in the form of student loans and other support programs but the whole education system is not government funded and students have to pay a certain portion of the total fee.

Vocational education and training (VET)

Vocational education and training (VET) is another highly important sector of the Australian education system which contributes towards the development of skilled workforce through the provision of practical skills and experiences to individuals. These skills enable people of all ages to perform tasks effectively and safely across a wide range of employment fields.  

Being a flexible and competency-based system, it can be undertaken at different levels and through multiple pathways, providing the opportunity to move between the levels of education and employment. It exists in various forms and maybe institution-based or workplace-based training or a combination of both. It also allows the flexibility of being full-time or part-time training.  

This diverse sector includes government-funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges, registered government organizations in addition to private and community based registered training organizations. These organization impart a wide range of skills essential for trade, technical, professional and para-professional occupations. The individuals engaged in these training programs are awarded with Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Advanced Diplomas and Certificates of Proficiency and Competency. Like the other sectors of education system, the responsibility for VET also rests with the State and Territory governments which allocate funds for their running in addition to the other administrative and legislative responsibilities

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Australian Qualifications Framework

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), established in 1995, is a national policy that distinguishes Australian education system from those of other countries. It has 10 levels and covers qualifications from the tertiary education sector in addition to the certificate awarded on leaving the school; the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

This national system allows the students to move easily between different levels of study further permitting flexibility in career planning. A major advantage of the AQF is that it guarantees that the qualification is nationally accredited and authorized by the Government.

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International Students

Australia welcomes international students as they contribute immensely to the economy. The country is also one of the top 5 providers of education to international students and is highly sought after by students opting for higher education. Statistics reveal that almost one-quarter of students enrolled in Australian universities come from overseas. These students not only contribute to the economy through the fee but also become a part of the workforce as skilled migrants after the completion of tertiary level education. Students also choose Australia for not just the high quality education which is globally recognized but also for the beautiful landscapes and cooperative community.

Also another major attractive feature for international students is that English is the official language and the main language of instruction in the Australian education system.

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Fee and Scholarships

Although Australia ranks high in terms of affordability, it also allows the students to earn by working part-time during the course of their study. The government offers aid, loans and scholarships to both national and international students through various programs. But for a full fee paying student the average expenses at a tertiary institution could range from AUD$30,000- AUD$50,000 a year.

So, this was all about the different salient features of the education system in the “Land down under”. Although COVID-19 has drastically affected the education systems around the world and the lockdowns and social distancing has made it very difficult for the institutions to continue their normal operation. The government agencies are working tirelessly in conjunction with the states and territories to manage the risks of the virus and implement strategies to overcome the associated threats.

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