Secondary education

Australia is a popular secondary education destination for international students. In addition to providing high-quality, internationally recognised education, Australia also provides a safe, comfortable and multicultural environment. An Australian education aims to provide students with the skills for future study and employment anywhere in the world.

Courses and qualifications

Australia’s secondary schools adhere to a national curriculum framework, which is being progressively developed and implemented in schools to set high national standards in English, mathematics, science, history, languages, geography, the arts, health and physical education, information and communication technology, civics and citizenship, economics and business.

In order to gain accreditation to accept international students, a school must provide, or have access to, specialist English language programs.

Across the states and territories, the final years of secondary school have a different name (see below).

State or territoryName of Year 12 qualification
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)ACT Year 12 Certificate
New South Wales (NSW)Higher School Certificate (HSC)
Northern Territory (NT)Northern Territory Certificate of Education and Training (NTCET)
Queensland (QLD)Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE)
South Australia (SA)South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
Tasmania (TAS)Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE)
Victoria (VIC)Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)
Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)
Western Australia (WA)Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE)

Different secondary schools offer different elective subjects, class structures and areas of specialisation. In addition to the subjects offered, it’s a good idea to research the school’s focus and extracurricular activities to help you find the school most suited to your needs and interests. You can find further information about senior secondary qualifications in Australia on the AQF website.

Vocational training in schools

An increasing number of Australian schools offer Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects as part of their school curriculum. These subjects allow students to gain practical, work-based skills while completing their senior secondary education and are part of Australia’s commitment to providing a balanced education that prepares students for life after secondary school.

The International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB Diploma Programme is a two-year pre-university course for motivated students from 16 to 19 years of age. Universities around the world recognise the qualification. There are also programs for middle years students (aged 11 to 16) and primary years students (aged 3 to 12).

The International Baccalaureate organisation must officially approve schools before they can offer IB programs. There are 150 IB-authorised schools in Australia. For more information, go to the International Baccalaureate organisation website.

Average tuition costs

Secondary school fees for international students vary widely, from AUD$7800 to $30,000 per year at an elite private school.

These figures were sourced from the Australian Government’s Study in Australia website in 2018. Please note that tuition costs vary widely and should always be sourced from individual schools.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary throughout Australia. The selection process involves consideration of the applicant’s academic record along with other factors, which may include sporting achievement and other extracurricular accomplishments.

Further study

The successful completion of secondary school allows students to apply for entry to further education, but it does not guarantee a place. Entry into most Australian higher education courses is on a competitive basis for both international and local students.

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