group of high school students studying in classroom

Secondary Education

Australia is a destination of choice for secondary international students. There is a vast variety of Australian schools offering diverse, quality, internationally recognised education for students. Australia also provides a safe, multicultural environment that means many international students feel relaxed and comfortable. The Australian Qualifications Framework which underpins the system, ensures that all courses are of a consistent high quality. An Australian education can provide students with the skills and confidence for future study and employment anywhere in the world.

Courses and qualifications

The International Baccalaureate (IB)

Vocational training in schools

Average tuition costs


Entry requirements

Find out about Australia’s university (higher education) sector


Courses and qualifications

Australia’s secondary schools adhere to a national curriculum framework, which is being constantly developed and implemented in schools to set high national standards in all learning areas to ensure that students with an Australian education are internationally competitive. Each state also has oversight of the courses taught in their respective states.

Types of Schools

There are a wide variety of schools in Australia

Types of schools include government schools, non-government schools (including faith-based schools such as Catholic, Anglican or Islamic schools) and schools based on educational philosophies such as Montessori and Steiner. All schools must be registered with the state or territory education department and are subject to government requirements in terms of infrastructure and teacher registration.

Australian schools do more than just educate students. They prepare them for life − developing communication skills, self-discipline and respect for themselves, their peers and their world. Schools offer a broad curriculum in the key learning areas – English, mathematics, studies of society and the environment, science, arts, Languages Other Than English (LOTE), technology, health and physical education. They also work to obtain the benefits of a rounded education – including the teamwork, self-expression and personal development that happen outside the classroom.


In Australia, students will enjoy a diverse learning environment that is as personally enriching as it is educational, and develop the skills and qualities needed in a changing world.

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

Final year studies in each state have different names:

State or territory Name 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.

Different schools are likely to also have a specific focus and offer differing extracurricular activities.  Research is required to help you find the school most suited to your needs and interests.

Additionally, some schools may also offer the International Baccalaureate IB.


The International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB Diploma Programme is a two-year pre-university course for 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 approves all schools that offer IB programs.  There are 150 IB-authorised schools in Australia.  Please see the International Baccalaureate organisation website for more information.


Vocational training in schools

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


Average tuition costs

Secondary school fees for international students vary widely, from AUD$7800 to $30,000* per year at an elite private school.  AES can provide you accurate advice about the likely tuition, homestay and other out of pocket expenses.



Homestay is a valuable addition to your international study experience.  Homestay allows you to stay with a local family, providing an additional level of support for your studies in Australia, and a valuable opportunity to practice speaking English if it is your second language.  Homestay places are regulated and provide a valuable service to international students.  Find out more here


Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary between schools. However, the selection process may include both academic, sporting and extra-curricular activities.  It is important to get advice or to do your research before applying to schools, Aussie Education Services can provide you with information about your educational choices in Australia



Successful completion of secondary school allows students to apply for entry to further education, however please note that entry into Australian higher education courses is mostly on a competitive basis for both international and local students.

Click here for a full list of Australian Universities.


Considering Secondary study in Australia?

We highly recommend studying in Australia, the cultural and educational benefits are well worth the investment in your time and money if it is planned well.

We highly recommend that students intending to travel to Australia to study attend one of our study tours.  This will give you firsthand experience of the Australian school system and allow you to decide if Australian school, college or university study is right for you.

You can find out more information about study tours here.

In any case the best thing to do is to contact us about your options for further study in Australia, once you have read information from a few schools.  We can then help you to choose the best options and give yourself or your child the best start at an international education.


The Australian Qualifications Framework website has more information about senior secondary qualifications in Australia.  Visit the AQF website here.

* source: the Australian Government’s Study in Australia website Aug 2017. Note: tuition costs vary and should be obtained from individual schools.