Australia is a hugely popular destination for international students from all around the world. It has been ranked as one of the top five destinations for international tertiary study by QS World University Rankings in 2013 and it was voted the second most welcoming country for immigrants in an OECD survey in 2012.
There are many reasons why study in Australia is such a desirable place to study, but what about the Australian education system for international students? The focus of this blog post will be on explaining some basic information about Australian education and how studying in Australia works. It is also providing international students with tips that will help you get prepared before your arrival here!
Education System in Australia
The Australian education system is a complex and diverse network of educational institutions or education providers that provide students with access to public and private pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools, government schools, vocational colleges, and higher education (universities).
Regulated by the Department of Education, the Australian education system has compulsory education for children aged between six and 17 years, with the period of schooling varying by state or territory.
There are four different stages of school education in Australia: kindergarten – preschool – primary school – secondary school – tertiary education – vocational, TAFE, or higher education (university-level) courses.
The school education year is divided into two semesters that start on the first day of January and July each year.
Australian Education for International Students
Australia is a leading global provider of education to international students, and in 2012 was ranked the third-largest provider of international education after the U.S. and UK. Australia has the highest ratio of overseas students per head of population by far because 812,000 are enrolled at universities throughout their country with no other countries coming close,
In 1966, the Australian Government signed the Convention Against Discrimination in Education, which aimed to combat discrimination and racial segregation in education.
Primary and Secondary Education
The duration for primary and secondary school in Australia would depend on which level of schooling you are pursuing.
Primary school usually takes five to eight years, with children starting aged four or five.
Secondary education is made up of high schools that range from three-year courses such as year 10/12 (the final years) to the more common one-year senior studies program, such as year 12.
Most people will undertake a combination thereof although senior studies has become less popular than it was previously.”
Tertiary education in Australia provides opportunities for students to work towards academic and professional qualifications. The Australian education system of the tertiary education sector is understood as the aggregation of higher education (undergraduate and postgraduate), and vocational education training (VET) offered at universities, TAFE institutions, and private providers such as colleges.
Higher education in Australia is just a type of schooling that takes place after completing the requirements of secondary school. What separates higher education from other types is the inclusion of one or more degrees, diplomas, or graduate certificates.
Higher education institutions offer classes and lessons on tertiary-level coursework to people who have completed sufficient undergraduate study, gaining them entrance into said institution for completion.
Courses offered range in various topics related to economics, history, sciences and languages among others; and completion will usually result in receiving a certificate relating to their study in this institution of learning.
Vocational education is the in-school training or practical learning of students so that they can find employment as apprentices or qualified vocational workers.
Vocational education typically leads to qualifications such as diplomas and certificates for those seeking manual trades, while university degrees may be sought by those aspiring towards management positions.
Participants usually learn theory about the type of work they aim to do during a vocational course and then develop practical skills through hands-on workshops supervised by an occupational trainer from a workplace.
The pathway programs in Australia are available for high school students who want to fulfill their educational requirements before they enter university courses. The programs are also available for international students.
The pathways offer them with guidance and counselling while they deal with the pressures of transitioning from high school to tertiary education or employment.
There are so many pathways to higher education for international students, including foundation studies and English language preparation programs. These ensure that these students receive the extra support they need to succeed in their school career!
Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is an act established to guide the regulatory framework for qualifications in Australia. It is part of an education system that is regulated by the Department of Education.
It provides a framework for the development, articulation, and assessment of qualifications across Australia at all levels in full-time or part-time education.
The AQF consists of six levels – Access, Foundation, Intermediate, Senior Secondary (School Certificate / Vocational Education and Training), Higher Education, and Postgraduate Research. There are just over 2 850 qualifications on offer in these levels, from certificates to doctoral degrees.”
Higher Education in Australia
An undergraduate degree is a qualification obtained after completing a bachelor’s degree in universities in Australia. In order to complete an undergraduate graduate program in Australia, students need about three years of study and must get the credits required for graduation in the program.
Successful completion of an undergraduate course often helps candidates find postgraduate study with better chances because they are considered more qualified.
Today, most universities offer both courses as an intermediate programs before continuing on to master or doctoral degrees.
A postgraduate or masters degree is a graduate-level academic qualification, sometimes regarded as an academic degree in its own right.
In universities in Australia, postgraduate courses of study normally entail either research (i.e., conducting theoretical or empirical inquiry), specializing in a particular area, or gaining professional qualifications such as those required for certain professions like law, teaching, and medicine.
As with almost all Australian tertiary education courses there are often many different types of postgraduate degrees offered at any one institution – the most common being, Master’s degrees (often simply called “Masters”) and Doctoral degrees (Doctoral programs).
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
What is Vocational Education and Training Australia?
Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a comprehensive education that is part of the Australian education system, regulated by Department of Education. It typically focuses on providing skills for work. Vocational training provides the necessary tools to help people find jobs, up-skill in their field of choice, or go back into the workforce after taking time off.
With this type of curriculum, VET can provide individuals with many opportunities like joining the workforce for the first time; re-joining an already established career path; upgrading one’s skillset in a chosen profession, and achieving higher salary levels by specializing knowledge.
Australian vocational education sector has a partnership between the Australian government and industry. The Australian government provides qualifications from Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions while private institutes provide training programs based on demand by the employers.
What are the vocational courses in Australia?
Several of vocational courses that are in demand are:
- Design & Media.
- Trades & Sports.
How many vocational trainings are there in Australia?
In 2017, VET courses were provided by: 3,156 private training providers. 442 community education providers. 398 schools.
Vocational education and training (VET) qualifications
VET qualifications are outcome-based and focus on the occupational skills and competencies gained. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) recognises prior learning or current competence in the industry, making credit transfer easier while offering students flexible pathways for their education.
There are various levels of VET certificates available, from Certificate I through to IV as well as Diploma courses which go up to Advanced Diploma level.
Your VET course will broaden your skills in a specialised area that teaches you the practical experience you’ll need for the workplace. It will train you to design, plan, and execute the practical and technical aspects of your field in an industry context.
VET For International Students
There are several entry requirement for international students.
- First of all, you must have a valid passport.
- Additionally, you are required to have a completed degree of minimum Australian year 10, 11, or 12, depending on what level you want to start your education at.
- Another important condition is proof of the English language. Most of the schools require an IELTS certificate at the level of min. 5.0 or its equivalents such as PTE or TOEFL. Some schools conduct internal English tests, accept certificates of completion of the General English course in Australia or even overseas.
- Some courses might need work experience while others may have prerequisite subjects.
5 Tips for preparing to study in Australia for international students
When you have already decided to study and get education in Australia, here are several tips for international students:
- Learn about the education system in Australia
- Research the cost of living in Australia
- Find out what your student visa will cover and what it won’t
- Make sure you have enough money to buy a plane ticket and pay for food, housing, etc while studying abroad
- Contact an international student advisor at your school or university before going to make sure they can provide any support needed while studying abroad
- Prepare yourself mentally for a new culture.