Australia is one of the countries in the world where the average level of education is highest. Vocational training is provided in a variety of forms and Australia is a pioneer in distance education. Over the past decade, the country has also become one of the countries that receives the most foreign students.
|Land area||7,741,220 km²|
|Residents per km²||3.3|
|Income per capita||$ 50,400|
|ISO 3166 code||AU|
|Time zone UTC|
|Geographic coordinates||27 00 S, 133 00 O|
The states and territories are each responsible for the design and financing of their education system. There are, therefore, significant differences between them, for example. breakdown into stages, designation of stages and time for school start. Nationally, however, there are guidelines that make education equivalent between different parts of the country. Compulsory education begins at the age of six and is offered free of charge for ten years. One third of the pupils in primary and further education attend private schools that have fees. The vast majority of these schools are affiliated with religious communities, mostly the Catholic Church. Before the age of six, children usually attend preschool/kindergarten.
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In most states, the primary school comprises six years and the secondary school, high school, six years. When the compulsory schooling is over after four years in the secondary school, a certificate is obtained. Then follows the two years of continuing school, which are required for admission to academic studies. The school year starts at the end of January/February and ends in December. In most schools, school uniforms are used.
Special solutions are available for children in very sparsely populated areas. Since the beginning of the 1950s there has been School of the Air, a distance education for children that, with the help of radio, TV and the internet, allows close contact with teachers and classmates. The system now encompasses some fifteen regional networks and is available in all states except Tasmania.
Aboriginal education has been severely neglected and still close to one third of the adult population is not literate. The country’s educational policy program in 1990 stipulated that the differences between urinals and the population in general must be reduced. The federal state provides grants to states and territories that must improve the education opportunities of the indigenous population. Around 2010, almost all Aborigines started school and most of them went to primary school. However, only 40% of them stayed in school until 12, while 76% of the rest of the population did. The largest are the differences in the most remote areas, mainly in the Northern Territory.
Post-secondary education is partly in the form of academic studies leading to university degrees, and partly as vocational studies of different lengths, which provide certificates or diplomas. Higher education and research have only expanded in recent decades. In 2012, Australia had 39 universities and technical colleges and about 145 professional colleges and the like, many fairly small and specialized. Several Australian universities have a high reputation. On international lists in 2012, three of them were among the 40 highest ranked in the world, the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney. ANU is the only federal university. A few universities are private while the others are state-owned.
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Traditionally, universities have been largely independent. Over the past decade, they have been increasingly operating as companies and becoming more dependent on research funding. The universities can also receive federal funding, but this is followed by more state influence. In recent years, the federal state has generally increased its control over higher education and its quality. Tuition fees have been increased, but at the same time, the opportunities for domestic students have increased to receive student loans and student loans. Costs for foreign students are therefore high. The fees are determined by the individual higher education institutions and vary considerably.
Post-secondary education with a vocational orientation is available in a variety of forms and has the overall designation Vocational Education and Training (VET). Short courses provide certificates, multi-year study programs provide diplomas. A large part of this training is offered within the framework of Technical and Further Education (TAFE), which is part of each state’s education system. Such courses are also provided by private training companies. TAFE courses are found in nearly 1,500 locations across Australia, and in larger locations there are TAFE colleges. The courses are often designed in collaboration with the local business community and can be given as well as full-time, part-time or distance education. Equal spread is also a broad evening course activity, roughly equivalent to that found in Sweden.
During the 1990s, the number of foreign students increased sharply, especially from Asia. Their course fees became an important source of income for universities and colleges as well as for course donors within VET. In 2010, there were just over 335,000 foreign students in Australia, accounting for about 28% of all post-secondary education.