Education System in Australia for International Students

Education System in Australia for International Students

12 mins read2.5K Views Comment
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jun 12, 2023 17:31 IST

Australia makes it to the top #5 countries for offering the best quality education to both domestic and international students in 2023. Annually, over 6 million students apply to study in top-ranking Australian Universities which consistently rank for international outlook by THE and QS every year. Education in Australia is as expansive as it can be for any country. Starting from the school level to the research level, along with VET, English and Foundation courses the list of institutions and courses is endless in Australia. This is one of the reasons why UNICEF scores Australian education 39 out of 41 for the year 2022.

In order to study in Australia, students must know how and where to apply through the right channel. Applicants must check the following points before pursuing education in Australia:

Education in Australia Highlights

Education in Australia Regulator

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) 

Total AQF Levels


Education levels in Australia

Primary, secondary & tertiary 

Total Universities in Australia


Courses offered


Total Higher Education Institutions


Areas of Study

Business, Architecture, Design, Engineering, IT, Science, Arts, etc.

International Student Protection

ESOS Act 2018

Average Cost of Study

AUD 4,000 - AUD 45,000 (annually)

Australian Education Quality Controllers


Check: Why study in Australia?

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Education System in Australia

Unlike any other education system, Australia has three different levels of education namely - primary, secondary and tertiary. This education system in Australia is regulated by AQF or Australian Qualifications Framework. AQF is responsible for facilitating the needs and demands of a modern world towards better educational objectives. 

AQF also aligns itself with the international qualifications framework in order to deeply understand the current requirements in education. The education system along with AQF includes three major components - the academic year, course credit system and the ESOS Act. these are elaborated upon in detail below:

  1. Academic Year

The academic year in the Australian education system varies with the level of education being pursued by any individual. Levels include schools, undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral, VET courses, foundation courses and English language courses. The table below throws more light on each of these levels’ duration, academic system and starting dates in a year:



Academic System

Starting Date


13 years (KG-12)

Semester: 4 Terms

Late Jan / early Feb


5 weeks to 1 year

Split weekly 

Around the year


1 year or more


Feb usually


1 to 4 years

2 semesters

Feb usually


3 to 4 years

2 to 3 semesters

March (may vary)


1 to 2 years

2 to 3 semesters

March (may vary)


3 years + 1 for review

No semester

As per PhD supervisor's suggestion

Get Australia intake information at -

  1. Course Credits

Course credits in Australia are basically a set of already-earned qualifications which can help international students build upon their higher education or career. It's mandatory to prove that one has earned these course credits so that they don’t have to repeat them again, two the course credits are recognised by the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) so that the students can easily transition to their education or employment. NOOSR is basically an integral part of the Australian education system which has certain standards to recognise international students’ qualifications. A brief difference between credits and exemptions has been described below:

Areas of Difference




Set of units required to complete a course.

Previous certified knowledge of a unit is, thus, not required to be repeated.

Work Experience Level

In case the unit that has already been studied is justifiable, it is not required to be repeated.

The applicant will be exempted from pursuing that credit in case they justify their knowledge. the value of that unit will not be counted.

Assessment Application

Takes up to 4 months for approval

Takes up to 3 weeks for approval.

Total credits required/exempted

144 bachelor’s, 96 postgraduate

Exemption of credits cannot go beyond 4 to 5 for a course.

The qualification assessment costs vary for both domestic and international students depending upon their intent of assessment. Fees can be paid online via credit holders or Visa or Mastercards. The fee for international students applying for:

  • 1 or 2 qualifications is AUD 450

  • 3 or 4 qualifications are AUD 550

  • 5 or more qualifications are AUD 650

Read: What are Go8 universities in Australia?

  1. ESOS Act

As part of the protection of international students’ educational interests, the Education Services Overseas Act has been activated since 2018. This Act is responsible for enhancing Australia’s reputation in terms of quality education, there is a provision for the protection of tuition protection and ensures the uprightness of the visa-holding students enrolled across various courses. These rights are a part of the education system in Australia and are further divided into three categories: 

Support Services for International Students in Australia

  • Legal, health, support and welfare services are available at each Australian institution for international students.

  • Career services through their respective institutions are also available.

  • Student visa-related information is available at each of the student institutions in Australia. Check: Australia Student Visa Guide

International Student’s Visa, Academic Integrity & Misconduct

  • International students must comply with visa rules and regulations. 

  • OHSC must be maintained till international students stay in Australia.

  • Maintain good academic progress and attendance.

  • Avoid submitting plagiarised assignments.

  • Also, make sure that you give your exams in person and do not indulge in ghostwriting.

Consumer Rights & Protection of International Students in Australia

  • International students can protect their tuition fees through Tuition Protection Service (TPS).

  • TPS can be contacted if the tuition fee has not been credited fully despite changing the course or changing the institution.

  • International students can change their institution of study if the choice of course in which the student was enrolled is no longer being offered.

  • The institution can also be changed if the international student receives an offer letter from another institution.

  • International students can work part-time while on a student visa and also apply for post-study work permits in Australia

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Types of Education in Australia

Unlike any other country, Australia also has different levels of education namely - primary, secondary and tertiary. The different types of education in Australia are further categorised in these levels of education. The table below summarises the types of education in Australia consisting of each level:


There are primary and secondary levels of education that are majorly related to school-level education whereas, tertiary education includes higher education, university-level education, vocational courses training and of course pathway courses if required by international students in particular. 

VET courses are majorly offered by TAFE Institutes, which are officially in partnership with the Australian Government for extending their professional courses. Check out some of the popular TAFE institutes in Australia that accept international students.

English Courses in Australia

While students who wish to pursue the English language in Australia are offered with quality education regulated and controlled by Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). English language courses or ELICOS in Australia can be taken by international students to serve different purposes:

  • To gain proficiency in the language

  • To be able to pursue higher education at an Australian University

  • Goal-oriented English language learning may be for business, tourism, technical, etc.

  • Pursue TESOL for teaching English in one’s own country.

  • Also to prepare for language proficiency tests like IELTS, Cambridge First Certificate, TOEFL, TOEIC, etc. 

The graph below shows the number of international students appearing for the top 4 English language proficiency tests:


In terms of education in Australia, international students can apply for admission to Australian Universities with either IELTS or TOEFL or PTE which is accepted by all major universities. International students can always check the admission requirements of the choice of course or program the applicant wishes to partake in.

AQF Levels of Education in Australia

As per AQF, there are 10 levels of education in Australia besides primary and secondary education. These levels have to do with tertiary education or higher education in Australia which has an extended version, unique to this country only. The table below shows the higher education system in Australia divided into different levels as per AQF:

AQF Levels of Study in Australia

Qualifications As Per AQF

Level 1

Certificate I: Related to basic or functional knowledge in order to go for higher learning.

Level 2

Certificate II: Applicants should be able to apply whatever has been learnt as a pathway for an even higher level of learning.

Level 3

Certificate III: This level enables students to take up skilled work along with higher education.

Level 4

Certificate IV: Basically enhances the student’s skill set and encourages them to go for higher education.

Level 5

Diploma: This is to do with a theoretical and technical skill set acquisition. 

Level 6

Advanced Diploma: Paraprofessional skill set acquisition to apply specialised theoretical knowledge.

Associate Degree: Undertake paraprofessional work by supporting theoretical knowledge.

Level 7

Bachelor’s Degree: Be able to apply for a professional field with diverse knowledge.

Level 8

Bachelor’s (H) Degree, Graduate Diploma: Apply all that the applicant has learnt in his/her respective work field. 

Level 9

Master’s Degree: Advanced knowledge in terms of qualification through either coursework/research.

Level 10

Doctoral / Research Degree: Qualified students who research new topics and levels supported through scholarships offered by the Australian Government.

Australian Education Consultants

Overseas education consultants are available in all countries and their respective cities as well. Top Overseas Education Consultants in India are available across all directions, that is, in the north, south, west, etc. These consultants are basically those agencies which help international students in finding the right college or university abroad to pursue their studies. Other major roles why agents are approached by international students are as follows:

  • The agents help students in shortlisting the universities as per his/her choice of course.

  • They help in filing applications and in making online payments.

  • They also help students in designing their SOP or cover letters. Read: SOP Sample for Australia

  • The agents also help students in filing their visa applications.

  • There are different types of student visas in Australia, thus, students would also be able to get help regarding the same.

  • They are also responsible for educating students about their rights in a new country.

Check out the list of overseas education consultants in India located in different cities/states:

Students willing to apply for admissions through these consultants must beware of fake agents who fool students by cheating and robbing them. It is advised that students must go to trusted sources for information and also be updated so that they do not fall into any trap unnecessarily. We have covered a couple of points for students to be safe in these cases. Read beware of fake study abroad counselling agents and keep the mentioned points handy whenever you visit them in future. 

Cost of Studying in Australia for Indian Students

The cost of studying in Australia for an Indian or any international student varies with the level of study the student is willing to pursue. The average cost for schooling is around AUD 250,400, graduation is between AUD 30,000, and post-graduation is AUD 40,000, for the year 2023.

These are the average tuition costs for studying in Australia for one year, along with education costs there are other costs too. Hence, students choosing to educate themselves in Australia at a higher level must check the necessary details and also if there are any affordable and cheap universities in Australia where education in Australia could be easier for international students before applying. 

Living Costs in Australia for Indian Students

The living cost in Australia for international students includes - accommodation costs, the cost for food, transportation costs, etc make up the total cost of studying in Australia for Indian students annually. Check the table below for a brief understanding of the fee break up for education in Australia:

Monthly Expenses


On-Campus Accommodation Rental


Transportation Pass


Basic Amenities


Entertainment Costs


Estimated Monthly Expense


Indian students may require funding in terms of loans or scholarships to support their tuition and living costs in Australia. Education loans for studying in Australia are also available for students along with other funding options.

Education in Australia FAQs

Q. Is education in Australia expensive for Indian students?

A. Australia is the third most affordable country in the world to offer quality and world-class education to its domestic and international students. For Indian students, Australia is cheaper in comparison to the UK and USA because of the availability of a plethora of scholarships. Read: Most Affordable Countries in the World.

Q. How can I get my qualifications recognised in Australia?

A. Applicants have to submit an application to the Overseas Qualification Unit with relevant documents of certified courses undertaken by the applicant in order to get them approved in case they are recognised by the Australian educational system.

Q. Why do international students or job seekers apply for qualification assessment in Australia?

A.International applicants who apply for higher studies or jobs in Australia apply for qualification assessment if OQU has transferred the case or there is no license, registration, professional membership required for jobs.

Q. What are foundation courses in the Australian education system?

A. International applicants who lack certain skills or course knowledge can enrol in foundation courses before applying for undergraduate or postgraduate courses admission. These courses can help hone the required skills or expertise in a given field for the applicants.

Q. Is it mandatory to apply for admission to Australian Universities through an agent?

A. No, it is not mandatory to apply for admission to Australian Universities through an agent by international applicants. Students can apply on their own as well provided they are able to take care of the time boundation, are able to follow up and are also able to upload all documents in the required manner. Read -  Self Apply vs Outside Agents for Study Abroad admissions.

Q. Are all international students applying for higher education in Australia entitled for scholarship?

A. International students have a wide variety of options to choose from for scholarships while applying for education in Australia, But it is not always mandatory that they qualify for the same each time. They must keep themselves up to date with whatever the university offers or whatever scholarship the qualify for as per Australian Government. Check: Scholarships to Study in Australia for International Students

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About the Author
Written by
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

Aishwarya is a professional Writer currently working as a Study Abroad Expert in the Editorial Team at Shiksha. She has over 5 years of experience and is skilled at creating Online Content with leveraged knowledge i... Read Full Bio

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All courses in ANZ

Armed with B.Com from Delhi University, Anuradha Sharma has accumulated rich experience as an education counsellor. She is especially adept at handling Australia and NZ admission procedure. Before becoming a GTE Exp... Read Full Bio


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