The Australian Higher Education System


The Australian Higher Education System

A better understanding of “The Australian Higher Education System” certainly helps overseas students pick up courses, colleges and universities of their choice. The Australian higher education system comprises of independent, self-governing public and private universities and higher education institutions that award higher education qualifications.

There are 38 public universities and 3 private universities in Australia.

A higher education provider is either a:

  • Self-accrediting provider, or
  • Non self-accrediting provider.
  • University

Higher educator providers are listed on a national register and required to be registered under Part 3 of the Tertiary Education.

The Australian Qualifications Framework is a national system established by the Australian Government linking courses and qualifications.

The Framework provides guidelines for:

  • Pathways
  • Learning outcomes
  • Assessment and accreditation of qualification

The framework greatly helps students to move easily between levels of study and institutions, receiving credit for the previous study.


Degree Title


Bachelor Degree(General)

3 years full-time study

Bachelor Degree (Professional)

4 years full-time study

Bachelor Degree + Honours

3-4 years full-time + 1 additional year's successful completion allows entry to a research Masters or Doctorate


Degree Title


Masters – Extended

3-4 years full-time study

Masters by Coursework

1-2 years full-time study

Masters by Research

1-2 years full-time study

Doctoral Degree

3-5 years full-time study

Doctoral Degree (Professional)

3-5 years full-time study


Individual universities set the requirements for admission to all programs.

Admission to undergraduate programs is usually based on successful completion of a total of 13 years of school education through some institutions use portfolios, demonstrated aptitude and interviews and most provide alternative pathways for mature-age students.

Achievement in previous higher education studies largely decides admission to postgraduate programs.

Admission to doctoral programs is usually based on high achievement in a Research Masters Degree or completion of a Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours or Second Class Honours Division A.


In many institutions in Australia, Overseas students represent a substantial percentage of the student body. In 2012, overseas students made up an average of 20.7 percent of all onshore higher education students.

Education Service for Overseas Students (ESOS) protects the interests of international students. It provides tuition and financial assurance.

As per ESOS legislation, all education providers need to enter into a written agreement with overseas students when they enroll. If facilitates and protects the rights of students in many ways. For instance, if their visa is refused or their education provider fails to teach the course for any reason, ESOS can intervene.

In case an Australian university extends courses at an offshore campus, the university must maintain standards at least equivalent to those provided in Australia.

Students can garner more information about the higher education system by browsing Go8’s useful links.


All Australian universities are autonomous bodies that cling to high-quality standards and responsible for managing quality through internal accreditation process and codes of practice.

The Department of Education is the Australian Government department which is responsible for higher education and research. Legislation binds all Australian Universities to comply with threshold standards.

An independent national quality assurance body, The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, has been constituted to examine the performance of higher education providers against the Higher Education Standards Framework.

All institutions receiving Australian Government financial support must meet quality and accountability requirements set out in the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth). The Australian Higher Education System has been constituted after extensive research and never accommodate obsolete concept. Making after perfection is the final objective of Australian Higher Education System.