A directory of universities and tafes plus useful information for international students
Your guide to every non-government school in Australia. The best place to begin looking for the right school for your child
|The Australian school year runs from January to December, with four school terms. The longest holiday is over the Christmas period (the Australian summer). Most educational institutions close for at least six weeks over the Christmas holidays.
|There are three other two-week school holidays during the year, in April (Easter), July and October.
According to UNESCO figures, Australia has one of the highest ratios of enrolment in primary and secondary education in the world; on a par with the United Kingdom.
Each Australian state runs and manages its own education system. In New South Wales (NSW) there are almost 2,200 public schools, including primary and high schools. Children in public schools typically start school at 9.25 am and finish at 3.25 pm. Some private schools start earlier and finish earlier.
Public schools are free, in theory, although you are asked to pay school fees, which are voluntary. That said, most parents pay school fees and expect to pay extra amounts during the year for school excursions and special performances.
The NSW Government has recently changed fee structures for temporary visa holders. Guidelines are available by visiting the Department of Education and Training website.
Private schools are competitively priced when compared to schools in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. An William M. Mercer survey of day school tuition fees charged by secondary schools where expatriate professional and management staff send their children found that Sydney schools were less than one-third the cost of equivalent London and Tokyo schools, and more than 60% cheaper than New York schools.
In NSW, there are 3,092 schools, 902 of which are private schools, catering for all age groups from primary to high school. Many private schools are affiliated with church organisations. Boarding facilities are provided within many top schools and fees range from around A$2,000 to over A$20,000 a year.
You can search for a private school in the area where you live at the Private Schools of Australia website. You will usually have to phone the school in person to get an idea of fees and facilities.
You’ll also find private schools listed on CitySearch.
Education in NSW can start at a kindergarten or pre-school – the majority of pre-schools are privately run. Children from two to five years can attend these schools.
Most suburbs will also have a long day-care centre where babies and under-fives can stay from around 7 am to 6 pm, catering for working parents.
Day care centres and pre-schools must be council approved and local councils can provide lists of those in your area.
Fees vary from area to area. There is an opportunity to claim back some fees from the government if you work, depending on how much you earn and your visa status. Visit the Centrelink website to find out about it.
A little on vaccinations
You may find that primary and pre-schools insist your children have been vaccinated against childhood illnesses such as polio, smallpox, measles and diphtheria. You will need to show a vaccination certificate and schools usually ask to see your child’s birth certificate for proof of age.
In NSW, children must turn five before July 31 in the year they start school, although gifted and talented children may be allowed to start school earlier. By law, children have to start school by their sixth birthday.
Children start school in kindergarten – usually called ‘kindy’ – and continue until year six, when children are 11 or 12 years old and they leave primary school.
High school options
In NSW, students enter high school in year seven at age 11 or 12. Students can legally leave school at age 15, however students remain at school if they want to take their School Certificate in year 10 or Higher School Certificate (HSC) in year 12.
The HSC earns a mark out of 100. Universities and colleges set a Tertiary Entrance Requirement (TER) out of 100 that students must achieve to gain entry to courses. As an example, would-be medical students usually have to earn a TER of 96 to 99 to win a place on a medical course.
There are four kinds of government-run high schools in NSW:
To find a primary or high school in your area use the Department of Education website search tool.
Universities and colleges
Australia is ranked 12th out of 36 countries for the percentage of the population that has attained at least a tertiary level of education (28%), just behind Ireland and ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany (OECD Indicators 2000 Edition).
Almost one in six of NSW’s population in the 15-64 age bracket has a bachelors degree or higher and 46 per cent have post-school qualifications.
For information on the entry requirements for universities and colleges visit the Universities Admissions Centre (NSW & ACT) website. This site also provides a course search facility and details of admission requirements for overseas students.
A full list of Australia’s universities and colleges is available from The Good Guides website. The site lists courses and campuses and rates their facilities. It also has sections on courses for international students and corporate executives.
Colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) are located around NSW and offer a wide range of diploma courses – which are usually shorter than university degree courses. Diplomas also tend to have more of a commercial focus and course types are widely varied compared to academic university courses. For example, you can do diplomas in car mechanics, building trades and plumbing.
The TAFE website lists courses, college locations, and visitor and entry requirements for NSW residents and overseas students.
Adult Education courses are available around NSW and topics range from computing and marketing to car mechanics and photography. Courses in instructional topics usually last for a term and classes are generally held in the evenings. To look at the range of courses available go to the Board of Adult and Community Education website.