Schools in Australia

by Bob Sheth on December 13, 2009

in Education in Australia

Studying in AustraliaOne of the cornerstones of this vibrant economic giant is its educational system and the many schools in Australia. In Australia, school attendance is compulsory and from five years of age, all children in the country are to receive eleven years of compulsory education. As a result, the adult literacy rate has reached 99%.  The government, through grants and other programs have been able to establish thirty eight universities and continue funding the operations of such universities.

Another aspect of Australian education is its system of vocational training known as the TAFE Institutes. These educational institutions are higher college level education. The program includes apprenticeships for individuals for them to become knowledgeable on a particular skill. Currently, more than half of the Australian population between the ages of 25 and 64 have already earned vocational or tertiary qualifications. Overall, according to current OECD statistics, the Australian tertiary graduation rate is nearly 49%. This has clearly made the Australian educational system very attractive to students from all throughout the world.

Immigration to Australia

With a vibrant economy and advanced educational system, Australia has become a hotbed for immigration. In 2008, a total of 278, 000 student visas were granted to individuals for their study in Australian educational institutions to individuals from over 190 countries worldwide. This number represents a 21% increase in the student visa program in one year. The government of Australia uses an Assessment Level system in the granting of Student Visas to the country. Each individual student visa application is reviewed and is graded based on a merit system. With the assessment system, the volume is streamlined while at the same time the quality and integrity of the visa system is maintained and regulated for eventual acceptance into schools in Australia.

There are currently five Assessment Levels in the student visa program. This program aligns student visa requirements with the risk posed by applicants from a particular country. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest immigration risk for the applicant while Assessment Level 5 the highest. The higher the Assessment Level, the greater the evidence, then there is a greater the need to demonstrate support their claims for the grant of a student visa.

Assessment Level Determination for Visas

The system operates by assigning each country to an Assessment Level across each education sector. The level assignment is based on a calculated immigration risk posed by students from that country in that education sector. The department reaches the assessment level determination after an examination of the history of compliance with visa conditionalities and other immigration risk factors for the previous year. If the statistics indicate that the group has a high risk assessment, the department raises the Assessment Level for that group. This would mean a greater requirement from this group to support their claims in the visa application. For an individual, you can determine your Assessment Level by matching your passport type with the visa subclass for the education sector for your principal course of study. You also need to complete the forms to be able to show evidence in their visa application.  The mandatory conditions and other pertinent information on this matter can be found here.

Options for Student Visas

An important part of your student visa application is the option for study in schools in Australia. The following are the current programs that are recognized areas of study granting student visa applications.

a)      English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students. This program applies to stand-alone English language courses that lead to a certificate at levels I, II, III and IV or no reward at all.

b)      Primary or secondary school course. This program applies to primary, junior secondary or senior secondary school courses and approved secondary school exchange programs.

c)      Vocational education and training. This programs applies to Certificates I, II, III and IV (except ELICOS), diploma, advanced diploma, vocational graduate certificate or vocational graduate diploma courses.

d)      Higher education. This program of study applies to bachelor degree, associate degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma or Masters degree by coursework.

e)      Postgraduate research. This program of study applies to Masters by research or a doctoral degree.

f)        Non-award. This option for study is granted by foundation studies or other full-time courses or components of courses that do not lead up to an Australian award.

g)      AusAID and Defence. This program of study is applicable to students who are sponsored by AusAID or the Australian Department of Defence for full-time courses of any type.

h)      Student Guardians. These are visas granted to parents or relatives of a student studying in Australia.

The Educational Assessment System in Australia

There are many educational institutions located throughout Australia. The educational system is primarily governed by the individual states and territories in the Australian confederacy. The model follows a three-tier model with a primary education followed by secondary school and tertiary education.

The academic year varies between educational institutions with the regular schedule running from late January until mid-December for primary and secondary schools as well as TAFE colleges. As for universities and other educational institutions, the school calendar opens on late February until mid November with seasonal breaks in between.

The reporting and assessment format for schools in Australia in the primary and secondary levels has been standardized throughout the country. The Federal Government in 2005 instituted the universal common standards and assessment as a prerequisite for federal fund receipt. The grading system is as follows:

a)      A (Excellent) – 85 and above;

b)      B (Good) – 70 to 84;

c)      C (Average) – 50 to 69;

d)      D (Fail) – 25 to 49;

e)      E (Failure) – 0 to 24.

The minimum requirements for Higher School Certificate are coursework equivalent to legislated levels per state for schools in Australia. The requirements per state are as follows:

  1. Australian Capital Territory –Year 12 Certificate;
  2. New South Wales – Higher School Certificate (HSC);
  3. Northern Territory – Northern Territory Certificate of Education;
  4. Queensland – Queensland Certificate of Education;
  5. South Australia – South Australian Certificate of Education;
  6. Tasmania – Tasmanian Certificate of Education;
  7. Victoria – Victoria Certificate of Education;
  8. Western Australia – Western Australian Certificate of Education.

These certifications are administered by each state’s education body. Each subject taken is used to calculate the student’s university entrance score or Tertiary Entrance Rank. The coursework equivalencies are important to ensure completion of minimum requirements.

For the tertiary educational institutions, there is a different system for grading a student’s performance. The numbers indicated do not correspond to a percentile but to a percentage of maximum raw marks available. Many schools in Australia employ this scaling method to be able to adhere to these mandated policies. The degrees of the policies vary with each year but only 2 to 5% who pass would be awarded the High Distinction grade. Fifty percent would also be awarded a basic Pass grade. The raw marks for students who fail are not scaled and do not increase allocations of higher grades.  Grade point averages are not always used at the tertiary level.

The Educational Institutions in Australia

As already stated, the higher education schools in Australia is among the best in the world.  The following is a list of the best universities in Australia and their rank:

a)      The Australian National University – This is the top-ranked university in the country and is ranked fifty-ninth in the world. It is a public teaching and research university located in Canberra. The university has seven colleges and an institute of advanced studies making it the trailblazer in education in the country.

b)      The University of Melbourne – This is the second ranked university in the country and is ranked seventy-third in the world. The educational buttresses of the university lies in business, education, engineering, law and medicine.

c)      The University of Sydney – Ranked third overall and ninety-seventh in the world. The university’s strength is in their research performance. It also has the second largest student population at 47,775 in 2009.

d)      The University of Queensland – Fourth overall and ranks in the top 150 schools worldwide. Located in St Lucia near the Brisbane Central Business District, this university boasts as one of the bastions of the international network of research intensive universities colloquially known as a “sandstone university”.

e)      The University of Western Australia – Fifth overall and also in the top 150 in the world. It is ranked amongst the highest educational institutions in the world as it hosts over 100 Rhodes scholars from throughout the world.

f)        The University of New South Wales – Sixth overall and in the top 200 worldwide. It is one of Australia’s leading teaching and research institutions with leadership in the fields of renewable/alternative energy, quantum computing, nanotechnology, information and communication technology and the engineering as well as the bio-medical sciences.

g)      Macquarie University – This Australian public teaching and research university is located in the heart of Sydney in Macquarie Park. It is a leader in the realms of studies in business and finance, actuarial studies, quantum informatics, biomolecular science, engineering as well as climate studies. Seventh in Australia and is in the top 300 overall.

h)      Monash University – Based in Melbourne, this is Australia’s largest university with 56,000 students and 15,000 staff. Eighth in the world and in the top 300.

i)        The University of Adelaide – Ninth in the world and also in the top 300. This is a public university located in Adelaide, South Australia and is divided into five faculties with many top notch subsidiary schools.

j)        Flinders University – Top ten and within the top 400 in the world. This public university located in Adelaide, South Australia is named in honor of navigator Matthew Flinders. The university has been in the forefront of innovation and is a charter member of the Innovative Research Universities Group focusing on cross-disciplinary approaches to education, medicine and humanities.

Other Educational Institutions in Australia

Another educational option in Australia is the TAFE program of study or the Technical and Further Education program. Here, educational institutions provide vocational tertiary education courses which qualify under the National Training System and the Australian Qualifications Network. The specializations for these courses include hospitality, tourism, construction, engineering, secretarial training, visual arts, computer programming and community work.

The TAFE institutions are also known as colleges or institutes and are owned and operated by the state or territory where they are located. These local educational institutions provide the backbone of the economic workforce of the country.

This program is also one of the main reasons for student immigration into the country. The resulting skills provided enables individuals to be qualified under the skilled immigration program of Australia. The highest number of student immigrants obtaining TAFE training is in the fields of cookery and hairdressing. Lately though, the program has been under fire for document falsification as well as bad educational quality resulting in a damaged outlook for schools in Australia in the eyes of the world.

Schools in Australia

In a nutshell, schooling in Australia opens the individual to the most advanced and modernized educational systems in the world. It is of a very high standard that is comparable to many other schools located in Western Europe and the United States. The options to live and study in the country are wide and varied as such is deemed integral for the overall well-being and development of the individual student. Thus it is clearly a move forward once you are able to obtain a degree or certification from a school in Australia. Not only is it of high caliber, but your education can also be your means to enter into a vibrant and burgeoning economy that is located down under in Australia.

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