Australia is considered to be a country with high standard of living and one of the most successful educational systems among English-speaking countries. Though for most of the people Australia is associated with blue ocean waters, wide open spaces, kangaroos and koalas, the country has much more to offer than just that. Australia provides great educational opportunities for both native and international students.
Preschool in Australia, also known as kindergartens in some parts of the country, is not compulsory. Nevertheless, it is a popular option for working parents. Preprimary education in the county is delivered by such educational institutions as childcare centers, pre-schools and kindergartens. Preprimary education in Australia is aimed to provide children with the first experience of socializing with teachers, as well as developing communicative skills.
Compulsory education in Australia begins when a child reaches the age of 6 or 7 years and continues to age 15 or 17 depending on the state or territory. Compulsory education starts at primary school that includes 6 grades. Primary education in the country is delivered by a variety of government and private schools, including schools with religious affiliations. All these institutions have to follow government curriculum. Primary education in Australia is divided into two steps: early primary education and later primary education.
Early primary education is aimed to develop basic language and literacy skills, simple arithmetic skills, as well as to provide moral and social education. Health training and some broad creative activities are included as well.
The later primary education is aimed to beef up knowledge learned in early primary school. Studying in later primary school includes learning such subjects as English language, mathematics, social studies, science, music, art and craft, physical education and health being. Also, there are some optional subjects such as religious instruction, foreign languages and music.
One of the most distinctive features of school education in Australia is that there is no middle-school phase. It means that when pupils graduate from primary school, they go directly to high school. All high schools in Australia have to follow the common curriculum with an academic bias. When a student reaches the prescribed age (15 or 17 years), compulsory education ends. High school is aimed to prepare students to enter Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education institutions or enter society.
In comparison to many other countries, tertiary education in Australia is divided into two main sectors: Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education.
Vocational Education and Training
While in the most countries higher education is associated with universities, Australia offers vocational education sector. Vocational education and training sector (VET) is aimed to develop skills relevant to a trade or field of skilled specialization. It is important to understand that VET sector in Australia, one of the best in the world, provide students with internationally recognized qualifications, certificates, degrees and diplomas.
Vocational Education and Training in the country is delivered by both public and private training institutions, known in the county as Registered Training Organizations (RTOs). Public training institutions in Australia are funded by the government and are known as colleges or institutes of Technical and Further Education (TAFE).
TAFE institutions provide its students with certificates, advanced diploma and even Bachelor’s degree in a huge variety of fields. While most of the TAFE institutions are aimed to teach students standard core subjects, there are also specialized fields where training is aimed to develop particular skills needed in particular field or workplace.
The VET sector in Australia offers lots of educational options, including some private training organizations. The same to TAFE, private colleges in Australia are mainly focused on teaching some core subjects, such as Business and Information Technology. Nevertheless, some of them offer specializations in specific areas, such as audio engineering, computer graphics, pilot training, etc. Private colleges in Australia, the same to TAFE, provide students with certificates, diplomas and undergraduate degrees. Though when it comes to undergraduate degrees, most of the private colleges offer Bachelor programs, there is also a small number accredited to provide students with Master degrees.
Higher education in Australia provides its students with world-class education programs and world-recognized diplomas. It is worth to mention that every university in Australia is autonomous which means that each university sets its own standards and course offerings. Nevertheless, each autonomous university belongs to a unified national system, which means that degrees provided by various universities in the country are of equal quality.
Also, it is interesting to know that universities in Australia are not officially ranked. They are characterized by the types of courses they offer. There are universities that offer traditional programs with a great emphasis on research. There are universities that offer practical teaching aimed to prepare the workforce. Also, there are universities that offer courses and programs in accordance with location. These are such programs as Agriculture, Ecology, Tropical Medicine, Marine Biology.
The structure of higher education in Australia follows a common international model. Bachelor’s degree mainly takes 3 years, Master’s degree takes 2 years, Ph.D. degree takes 3 years. It is worth to mention that there are some slight variations, such as 4 or more years to get Bachelor’s degree in some particular field or a Master degree available in a single year of study.
Pathways to Higher Education
The education system in Australia provides its students with the ability to get flexible access to higher education. While there are VET institutions that already provide students with Bachelor degrees, students completing a Diploma or Advanced Diploma at a TAFE or private training institutions are able to shorten their university degree by obtaining academic credit for entry into the second year of university. Also, there are some universities in Australia that have explicit agreements with vocational training colleges.