Education Around the World – Series: Australia


Australia is a beautiful country full of natural resources. There are six states that comprise the mainland. It is home to the adorable koala and wombat, and it is also home to some of the world’s most poisonous snakes and spiders. Australia has large reserves of nickel, aluminum, copper, and uranium, etc. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system—and it is a stunning sight to behold. Ten deserts make up a fifth of the mainland. The country also possesses lush farmland.

Australia has a violent history. Its indigenous people—the Aboriginals—called Australia home for centuries before the first ship of settlers was sent from England in 1867 at the height of the colonial era. The first batch of settlers sent to Australia were primarily convicts from Britain and Ireland. The English settlers used their weapons to take over native land and kill the indigenous people who opposed their rule. The beginning of Australia was, in many ways, the end of the beautiful and culturally rich Aboriginal people.

The last century has been one of economic and cultural growth. Immigrants from all over the world have made Australia their home. The Australian government has made efforts to apologize and seek forgiveness from the descendants of the indigenous people who have been deeply affected and displaced by the actions of colonialists.



Australia’s schooling system takes 13 years to complete. It is divided into primary and secondary education. Primary school takes seven or eight years and begins with kindergarten and lasts until grade 6 or grade 7 (depending on the school). Secondary school begins at grade 7 or grade 8 and lasts until grade 10. Senior secondary school consists of grades 11 and 12.

Australia’s secondary education system has been influenced by the cultural heritage of its native people. In Victoria, teachers must follow guidelines for teaching Aboriginal culture. These are known as the Koorie-Cross Curricular protocols. These protocols relate to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who originally inhabited the land that is now called Victoria. Schools in Victoria focus on enlightening students with lessons about Aboriginal culture. These lessons are taught with the help of local Aboriginal organizations. Schools consult these organizations to ensure they are not misinterpreting Aboriginal culture.

The national curriculum is constantly developed to improve the quality and selection of classes provided nationwide. High schools must adhere to the national standard for Math, English, Geography, History, Technology, Economics, and Business. Schools that accept foreign students are required to offer or have access to specialized English classes.

Many high schools now offer vocational classes as part of their curriculum to allow students to gain practical experience in their senior year. The International Baccalaureate or IB diploma is a two-year pre-university course offered to the most determined high school students ages 16 to 19. Schools that offer this curriculum must be approved by the International Baccalaureate organization. This curriculum is one of the more difficult programs for high schools.

Imaginary classroom where students sit at their desk along with kangaroo.
An imaginary classroom where students sit at their desks along with kangaroo. Image: Adobe Express AI.

Higher Education


Australian universities are internationally recognized and respected institutions. Australian National University (known as ANU) is one of the most prominent universities in Australia. Its main campus is located in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. ANU has a vibrant campus experience. There are students from all over the world studying on campus. It has world-class facilities and offers a range of extracurricular activities.

Free counseling and health services are available to students on campus. ANU is a research university and has Australia’s most rigorous Science programs. International opportunities are available for students who want to travel overseas and study for a full year. Short courses that range from three to six weeks are available for people who are not enrolled in a degree program.

Sydney University has a breathtaking campus with community gardens and a chapel that has become a popular wedding destination. Cox Architecture designed a stunning new Electrical Engineering building for the university as part of its redevelopment. The University held a design competition for firms to submit their proposals. Cox Architecture’s sleek design for the massive project captured the attention of the University. The new building will add 4,000 square meters of laboratories. The University hopes the new building will rejuvenate the university’s campus.

The University of Queensland (known as UQ) is rated in the world’s top 50 universities. The main campus, St. Lucia, is located near Brisbane’s central business district. St. Lucia campus was built on 114 hectares of Brisbane River-bound land. UQ offers more than 4,000 courses to suit a range of interests from students around the world. The courses provided at UQ include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies, mining and mineral engineering, economics, religious studies, and medical school.

Australia’s universities are quite young compared to American and European institutions that have been around for centuries. However, these universities do consistently develop their programs, campuses, and teaching methods to compete with the best universities in the world.

University of Sydney
University of Sydney. Image: Pixabay

Degree programs in Australia usually take three years to complete, while special programs (i.e., law and engineering) require four years of study. The average degree program consists of 24 units. Each three-year program requires a completion of 24 units. Four-year programs have different requirements. There are four-year programs that require 24 units and a year of practical work before graduation is approved. Each semester, for three years, students take four units to complete their degree within the three-year period. Each unit consists of a single subject. Each subject has a compulsory weekly tutorial and accompanying lectures.

Australian universities have different prices for domestic and international students. International student fees are high across the country. At The University of Southern Queensland, undergraduate units (for Business and Commerce) cost $3,200 AUD each. Undergraduate engineering units cost $4,200 AUD each. Apart from that, international students pay international prices for health coverage, dorm fees, and other additional charges.

The University of Southern Queensland (known as USQ) is a school that had its beginnings as an online university. It began as a small institution that provided classes online to students all over the world. The leadership at USQ has had ambitious strategies to expand and appeal to students from all over the world.

USQ opened a $45 million building at its Springfield campus as part of its continued commitment to innovation. The 9,000 square meter, four-story building has world-class equipment, studios, and individual and group research areas. The expansion includes accommodation of the university’s latest offering of programs in spatial science and aviation.

Springfield campus is located 30 minutes away from Brisbane’s central business district. It is the fastest-growing area of Queensland. Springfield has some of the best middle school and high school education in Queensland. USQ has a few campuses. Its Ipswich campus (located near Springfield) unveiled a new simulation ward to give nursing and midwifery students the opportunity to perform clinical scenarios on campus. There are six simulation wards at Ipswich to cater to the increase in nursing students.

USQ unveiled the Mt. Kent Observatory, outside the Toowoomba campus (near Brisbane). The $6 million facility has world-class technology and telescopes that can be operated remotely without anyone on site. The observatory will play a role in searching for planets beyond the Solar System. USQ will collaborate with NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). When the expansion of the observatory is complete, 13 telescopes will be installed at Mt. Kent.

USQ expanded its aviation program to include the Toowoomba campus. The expansion has to do with the recent success USQ graduates have experienced. The Qantas Group Future Pilot Program has listed USQ as one of the pilot schools the exclusive program will be open to. USQ students will operate simulators during their freshman year of study.




Australian education has advanced in the last 40 years thanks to the continued efforts of ambitious vice-chancellors and educators who were passionate about teaching. Twenty years ago, hardly anyone would have predicted the success USQ is enjoying today. ANU continues to grow and surprise its competitors overseas with valuable research and projects. The University of Sydney is continuing to expand its campus and work to renew its sense of excitement about engineering and innovation. This is the result of ordinary people who were dreamers, planners, and doers. The story of Australian education is inspiring and ambitious.


* This article was originally written and published in 2019 for Zealousness issue 15. A new revision in preparation for the blog publication was performed in 2023.


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