Responsibility for education in Australia is divided between the State/Territory and Commonwealth Governments with funding from both levels of government.
Policies governing pre-primary and secondary schooling are generally implemented by the State and Territory governments and as such education in Australia is not uniform. However, education can be broadly divided into five key areas:
- primary school
- secondary school;
- vocational training; and
Pre-school children can generally attend a kindergarten which is a less structured form of schooling from the age of three years of age to 5/6 years of age when children commence primary school.
Three and four year old kindergartens are often attached to child care centres or are run by private or state primary schools. Parents usually have to pay a fee to enable their child to attend kindergarten.
Primary school children are aged between 5 and 6 when they start primary school. In Victoria for example, a child has to turn five by the 30th day of April in the year in which they are to commence school. There are both State and private primary schools. In the State school there are no fees per se but parents are required to pay for uniforms, books and stationery, excursions and sporting activities. Private schools do receive government funding but parents also pay fees which can vary substantially from school to school.
A large number of private schools are operated by the Catholic Education office. The fees at these schools are often lower than at others.
Primary school generally consists of Years 1 to 6 although, some States, including Victoria, have a preparatory year which means that children attend primary school for seven years.
Secondary school students move to secondary school after completing primary school and are usually aged between 11 and 13 years when this happens. Secondary school goes from Year 7 to Year 12 and results obtained in Year 12 examinations will dictate, at least initially, what university/higher leaning institution a student will go to and what course she/he will undertake. Once again there are State and private run secondary schools some being single sex; some being co-educational.
The general rule for applying for admission to a State schools is that it is the local school for the area in which you live.
Vocational training students can leave school after completing Year 10 and can take up an apprenticeship whereby they combine training and employment often leading to a nationally recognised qualifications. The Australian government is currently providing incentives to increase the number of apprenticeships available particularly in areas of skills shortages. Apprenticeships are usually available in the trades based industries.
University Students who wish to attend university make application to the University/ies of their choice for the course they wish to undertake. Applications are made in or about September of the final year of secondary school. When Year 12 results are published, Universities will make offers to students largely dependent upon their final scores. A student can either accept a position and start University the following year, can accept the position but defer it for a year or so or not accept the position. Universities will then make second round offers to students based on the number of acceptances, deferrals and rejections for particular courses.
Fees payable for University courses vary depending upon the University and the course being undertaken. At an undergraduate level, Universities can offer two types of places to domestic students:
Commonwealth supported which means that the Commonwealth government contributes the majority of the cost of tuition with the student paying a reduced contribution. There are a number of options for payment of the student contribution including full u-front payment, partial up-front payment or deduction from salary, similar to taxation, once the student's salary reaches a certain level.
Full fee paying:
Citizenship and residency status can impact on the type of assistance available to a student. Further information can be obtained from the Commonwealth government website: http://www.goingtouni.gov.au/ where list of Australian Universities with links to their website's are available.