Types of Higher Education Institutions in Australia

Post-secondary education in Australia is divided into:

Higher education (i.e. the universities, graduate business schools, theological colleges, etc.)

  • 45 major institutions (mostly public) and 85 other institutions

An Australian university will provide you with a sound understanding of your chosen field, along with academic skills that can be applied to other areas. You won’t just be learning about health, science, engineering or the arts. You’ll also be learning how to think creatively and independently.

Universities and higher education institutions in Australia offer programs leading to Bachelor Degrees and higher qualifications in a diverse range of fields. Australian universities offer programs from Architecture to Zoology.

The Bachelor Degree is the most common qualification offered in Australia. Specialized research training and professional development is also offered through Masters Degrees and Doctoral Degrees.

Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas are also available. Diplomas are becoming less common, however, the Australian Associate Degree provides a shorter-cycle Degree program for professionals wishing to further their careers.

Vocational Education and Training

  • 3,000 institutions (1000 state Technical and Further Education [TAFE])
  • 1.5M students (75% at TAFE)
  • 60% state-funded, 25% federal-funded)

University entrance is based primarily on a state-by-state end-of-school assessment system (examinations/assignments) leading to a nation-wide Tertiary Education Ranking (TER).

Each state has a Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system. VET prepares people for work in a career that does not need a university degree. Each state manages its system and meets at a national level to coordinate their effort. VET is transferable between all states. Study done in one state gains the same status in another state. Typically, a VET/TAFE course takes two years of study.

The national government provides the funding for universities in all the states. Each is independent in its governance. They set their courses and course content. A professional body must endorse a course for it to run. Typically, a university course takes three or four years of study.

In the work place, employers use agreed courses and outcomes to set standards of training for employment. Many parts of industry and business provide ongoing work place training for their employees. Some of this training can count towards a qualification.