On this page

  • How study is structured in Victoria
  • Vocational education and training
  • Study in your own country or come to Victoria

In Australia, education begins in primary school, then continues to secondary school and through to tertiary.

Tertiary education ranges from undergraduate coursework through to research-based postgraduate study. Options vary depending on the course and the educational institution.

English language classes are available at all levels of education in Victoria. Check with your school, college or university to find out what they offer.

Schools

Victorian school education starts with primary. Children attend school from age five to 12.

After primary school, children attend secondary school from 12 to 18 years.

Students attend school from around 8.30am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday.

School terms

Each school year there are four terms. Terms are sometimes called semesters.

The school year starts in late January or February and ends in December. There is a short holiday between terms and a longer summer holiday in December and January.

Girls and boys learn together

Most Victorian government schools teach boys and girls together. There are some single gender schools available.

Learning English at school

Around 25 percent of Victorian school students are from language backgrounds other than English. Many schools offer extensive English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. Schools that offer ESL often employ Multicultural Education Aides to assist students.

Bilingual programs in schools

Some schools offer bilingual programs or programs in other languages such as Mandarin, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and German.

Secondary qualifications

Victorian Certificate of Education

The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is the official government secondary qualification. The VCE is considered for entry to universities in Australia and overseas.

Students work towards the VCE in their senior high school years.

International Baccalaureate

Many Victorian schools also offer the International Baccalaureate, an internationally recognised secondary school qualification.

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning

The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) is an option for students who prefer more practical, work related study options. Students can study for vocational education and training certificates, to gain credit toward further education and training in various areas of study.

Studying at university

Academic year

The academic year usually begins in February and runs through to December. Each year, the dates are slightly different so check your institution’s website for the most current information.

TAFE, university and college websites usually publish calendars with important dates for enrolment, orientation programs, semester breaks, exams, and when exam results become available.

Census date

Census dates are the deadlines for making changes to your enrolment. For example, changes to your selected subjects, course withdrawal and payments may be due by the census date. Ask your education institute about 'census' dates.

Census dates usually start before the academic year.

Bachelor degree

As an undergraduate student, you study for a bachelor degree. The bachelor degree is Victoria's base higher education qualification. 

You might hear people talking about a 'degree' and this usually means a bachelor level degree.

Most bachelor degrees require three or four years of full-time study. You may also be able to study part-time. Studying part-time means it will take longer to complete your degree.

Some students do an honours degree, which generally requires an extra year of study on top of a bachelor degree. You may be able do this extra year at the end of the bachelors degree or within the bachelors degree

Masters degree

A masters degree is a postgraduate qualification. Depending on the course you may be able to do a masters by coursework or by research.

You might hear people talking about a 'masters' when referring to masters degree.

Pathways to a masters degree

Requirements for entry to a masters are generally a bachelor or honours degree.

Most master’s degrees require eighteen months to two years of full time study to complete. This is after completing a bachelor or honours degree. A research master’s degree program is at least two-thirds research with a substantial thesis which is externally examined. It normally requires a minimum of one year of full time study. The research master’s degree often leads to a doctoral program.

Doctoral programs and PhDs

In Australia doctoral programs generally require three to four years of full time study. As a doctoral candidate you are expected to make a substantial original contribution to knowledge in the form of new knowledge or significant and original adaptation, or application and interpretation of existing knowledge.

Thre are two forms of doctoral degrees. They are the professional doctoral degree and a research doctoral degree. The research doctoral degree is generally referred to as a PhD.

All doctoral degrees require completion of a thesis, dissertation, exegesis or similar. It is usually examined by two or three expert academics of international standing, two of whom must be external.

Vocational education and training (VET)

Victoria has 13 public Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutes, also known as Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes. TAFEs provide training that can set you up for employment in a number of industries.

You can study English and a range of work-related qualifications including certificate, diploma, advanced diploma and bachelor program through Victorians TAFEs and private registered training providers.

Courses combine practical, hands on learning experiences, in specially equipped classrooms, with fieldwork, lectures and class discussions.

Many TAFEs also offer pathways to bachelor degrees. Courses you complete at a TAFE may support your application to higher education at bachelor degree level.

Study abroad

International students may be eligible to apply for Victoria’s unique global exchange or study abroad opportunities. These programs are also available to students overseas whose education providers have exchange partnerships with a Victorian institution.

Design your own program by selecting courses across a range of disciplines and time periods to experience new cultures, build international networks or gain valuable skills through volunteer programs. Check with your education provider, along with the Commonwealth Government.

They may be able to provide travel assistance grants for you to take part in an exchange program.

Study tours

Study tours for secondary and tertiary students combine educational programs with cultural and sightseeing activities. They give you an insight into what it is like to live and study in Melbourne, combining overseas travel with cultural experience.

You can also make useful contacts with people and organisations that can help if you decide to return for further study. Tours often run for two to three weeks and are commonly coordinated through your school, vocational training institution or university.

You need a visa for study tours to Australia.

For advice on how to apply, contact the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection office near you.

Study in your home country

Some of Victoria’s universities, colleges and TAFEs offer courses through partnerships with education providers outside Australia. Some Victorian universities also have their own offshore campuses where you can study in your home country.

Studying in your home country may help you qualify for advanced standing with an Australian education provider. This means that the study you complete at one of these partnered institutions could count towards the study you want to do in Victoria.

If you are planning to study at a Victorian university, TAFE or college ask for information about whether they partner with institutions in your country.

While studying offshore, you may have access to a range of student services such as library services including online tutorials and resources, careers or skills advice and offshore graduation ceremonies.

Distance education

Many VET and higher education institutions offer distance learning or external courses (known as ‘off-campus’). Online courses are now widely available as well as more traditional distance learning programs.

Check individual university, TAFE and college websites for more information on off-campus courses.

Important

If you are in Victoria on a student visa you may not study more than a quarter of your course online.

Victorian university campuses are located in and around Melbourne, as well as throughout regional Victoria. Many Victorian universities also offer international study options through key partnerships and branch campuses located around the world.

Pathways to university through vocational training

Many TAFE courses provide a pathway to higher education, in cooperation with a number of Victorian universities.

Victoria has four dual sector universities. They offer VET courses, higher education and pathways from VET to higher education qualifications.

English language instruction

English is the official language of Australia and the language of instruction.

This means that your subjects are taught in English.