The Australian System of Higher Education The Australian System of Higher Education

The System of Higher Education in Australia

Australia offers a diverse range of study options for international students, with more than 1,200 institutions and over 22,000 courses to choose from.

You can study at all levels of education from primary and secondary school, to vocational education and training (VET), from English language courses to higher education (including universities).

Regardless of what you are studying or how long you are studying for, Australia’s laws promotes quality education and protection for international students.

The Education Services for Overseas Students ESOS Act 2000 and the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (National Code) provides nationally consistent standards for providers of education and training for international s1udents.

As an international student on a student visa, you must study with an institution and in a course that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). CRICOS registration guarantees the the course and the institution at which you study meet the high standards expected by international students. You can search for courses and institutions here on the Study in Australia website.

Along with the ESOS Act and National Code, there are also regulatory and quality assurance organizations for higher education and VET institutions. These government organizations are responsible for registration/Registration of institutions and accreditation/re-accreditation of courses. These organizations are:

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

The Universities :

The Australian higher education sector comprises 38 public universities and two private universities, which are autonomous and self-accrediting (www.australian-universities.comExternal website that opens in a new window. ).

Among these universities, the Group of Eight (Go8) is a coalition of leading eight universities, ( website that opens in a new window.) intensive in research and comprehensive in general and professional education.

Besides that the Australian Technology Network ( website that opens in a new window.) brings together five universities in Australia, committed to forging partnerships with industry and government to deliver practical results through focused research.

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. Most universities have 2 semesters; the academic year begins in February and ends in November. The terms 'University' and 'Degree' are protected in Australia so that only institutions, which meet Australia's quality assurance processes, are allowed to use these titles. Under the Australian Qualifications FrameworkExternal website that opens in a new window.( website that opens in a new window.), all universities that are registered have approximately 4000 formal agreements with universities around the world. Some Australian universities concentrate on traditional areas of learning, whilst others are more vocational. The national government provides the funding for universities in all the states.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector :

Australia's VET system provides individuals with the skills required in a modern economy and delivers training that is practical and career-oriented. Institutions are supposed to be closely linked with industry. Vocational courses, including in the popular fields of computing, business studies, marketing, tourism and hospitality, are provided at both the government-funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and at private institutions. The teaching year for TAFE institutes and colleges is from late January to mid-December; in some states and territories it is divided into 3 terms, while others use a semester system. Australian 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. Each state has a Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system. It may be noted, however, that the criteria for such competencies may change from time to time. Each state manages its system and meets at a national level to coordinate their effort. VET is transferable between all states. Study done in one state gains the same status in another state. Typically, a VET/TAFE course takes two years of study.