An Australian education provides a safe, comfortable and highly sought after education program to secondary students. This state-of-the-art education system delivers the student with essential global knowledge, intellect, drive and skills for further study or employment anywhere in the world. 

Education in Australia is compulsory and Australian schools are either Government run (High School/State School) or privately funded (Non-Government or Independent school). Non-Government schools are classified as either Catholic schools or Independent schools. Most Independent schools have a religious affiliation, but some are non-denominational. All Government schools are non-denominational.

The schooling system is separated into two levels; primary and secondary. The academic year in Australia varies between states and institutions, but generally runs from late January/early February until mid-December for primary and secondary schools, with slight variations in the inter-term holidays. Primary schools are undertaken by students between the age of 6 and 12 years and secondary school is undertaken by students between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age.

All schools hosting international students go through a rigorous accreditation process undertaken by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. All schools have to meet high quality standards relating to program provision, accommodation, reporting to parents and welfare arrangements. Each school's accreditation is regularly assessed and reviewed and schools must apply for re-accreditation every four years.

School System and Age

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Primary School

Age Year Level State
6-12 Grade / Year 1-6 NSW, VIC, ACT, NT, TAS
6-13 Grade / Year 1-7 QLD, SA, WA

Secondary School

Age Year Level State
12-13 Grade / Year 7 ACT, NSW, NT, TAS, VIC
13-18 Grade / Year 8-12 NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT, NT, SA, WA, TAS

Tuition (AUD$)

Private schools have higher fees than public schools, however, they usually offer more variety in subjects and opportunities. Please note, the figures below are school tuition fees per year only. These ranges do not include additional application fees, OSHC, uniforms, accommodation, food, extra-curricular activities. Please use as a guide for 571 student visa holders only.

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State Private Fees Public Fees
ACT $20,000-20,500 $13,300 - $14,800
NSW $29,000-33,000 $12,000 - $13,500
QLD $20,000-24,000 $12,476 - $14,108
NT $23,000-24,000 $9,000 - $10,000
SA $21,000-23,000 $10,700 - $11,800
TAS $23,000-24,000 $10,200 - $11,200
WA $23,000-24,000 $13,490 - $14,800
VIC $27,000-35,000 $12,833 - $14,350


Australia's high schools adhere to strict national curriculum frameworks. This curriculum is continuously being developed and implemented in order to set high national standards in English, mathematics, science, history, languages, geography, the arts, health and physical education, information and communication technology, civics and citizenship, economics and business.

High schools offer different elective subjects, class structures, areas of specialisation, and Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects as part of their curriculum.

A number of schools also offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP). This is a two-year pre-university curriculum for Senior School students. It is an academically challenging program of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students. The program has gained recognition and respect from the world's leading universities.

English language requirements

International students must hold an appropriate level of English language ability to study at secondary school level in Australia. The preferred school may require the student to take an intensive English language course before joining (which can be taken at one of the many English Language Centres located across the country or within an accredited school).

The Difference between Public and Private

Government Public School (State/High Schools)

Australia has a strong public education system. The Department of Education provides high quality education for children and young people throughout the country, helping them reach their full potential (providing excellent pathways to tertiary education).

Every public school has a local intake area, so where you live (or intend to live) determines where your child is guaranteed a place. Public schools are co-educational so they cater for boys and girls together at all levels and are inclusive. Teachers are trained to tailor a teaching program for students at all levels within a year group. Schools are managed by a principal and their team consists of teaching and non-teaching staff. The number of staff is determined by the size of the school, and the needs of the school.

Public school is much more cost effective than private school as most of the tuition fees are funded by the Australian Government.

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State specific information:

  • Victoria: The awarded certificate is either the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). The international student program is provided through Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
  • New South Wales:The NSW Government Schools system is the largest education network in Australia. The awarded certificate is the Higher School Certificate (HSC).  The international student program is provided through NSW’s Department of Education and Communities.
  • Queensland: In Queensland government schools, international students can choose from two different high school program outcomes. The High School Graduate Program or the High School Study Abroad Program. The awarded certificate is the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). The international student program is provided through the Queensland Government's Education Queensland International department. 
  • ACT (Canberra): The awarded certificate is the ACT Year 12 Certificate.  The international student program is provided through the ACT International Education Unit.
  • South Australia: The awarded certificate is the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). The international student program is provided through the SA Department for Education and Child Development.
  • Western Australia:The awarded certificate is the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). The international student program is provided through the WA Department of Training and Workplace Development.
  • Northern Territory: The awarded certificate is the Northern Territory Certificate of Education and Training (NTCET). The international student program is provided through the Northern Territory’s Department of Education.
  • Tasmania: The awarded certificate is the Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE). The international student program is provided through Tasmania’s Government Education and Training International department.

Private School (Independent)

Australia has an excellent private school system. Each school providing many and varied academic, social, cultural and spiritual opportunities to the international student.

Private schools (sometimes known as non-state or independent schools) exist in Australia as corporate entities separate from public schools, which are supported by the government. Though they differ widely in function, geographical location, size, organizational pattern, and means of control, these schools have two features in common - they are ordinarily under the immediate control of a private corporation (religious or non-affiliated); and they are supported primarily by private funds. They are characterized by a process of double selection because the schools select their teachers and students and the parents select the schools for their children. At some private schools students may be able to obtain a scholarship, which makes the tuition costs cheaper, depending on the talent of the student e.g. sport scholarship, art scholarship, academic scholarship etc.

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Private schools can include independent and Catholic schools, or other religious denominations.

Due to the higher student tuition at private schools, the opportunities and activities provided to a private school student are usually more varied and accessible than at Government schools. Many private schools also provide boarding facilities and care.


There are many accommodation options available for international students. For more details please click here.

Australian University Admission

For students wishing to be considered for university in VIC, NSW, ACT, SA & WA (after graduation from secondary school), there is a standardised moderated school and examination process which is used to calculate scores. These scores result in an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The ATAR is a number that indicates a student's position in relation to all other students of Year 12 School leaving age in that State. It takes into account the number of students with a Tertiary Entrance Aggregate (TEA) as well as the number of students of Year 12 School leaving age in the population. The ATAR results allow the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) to compare students across Australia for public university places.

The State of Queensland, however, utilises the Overall Position (OP) ranking system rather than the ATAR. Like similar systems used throughout the rest of Australia, the OP shows how well a student has performed in their senior secondary studies compared to all other OP-eligible students in Queensland.

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