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Types of study


The Victorian government’s commitment to quality education starts young. From primary (age six to twelve years) to secondary (twelve to seventeen years) the Victorian school system is one of the most advanced in the world.

Students attend school from around 8.30am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. There are four terms (semesters) in a school year which starts in late January and ends mid December. There is a short holiday between terms and a longer summer holiday in December and January.

Most Government schools are coeducational (boys and girls mixed) but there are single gender schools available.

Victorian schools have:

  • high quality teachers – all are university qualified
  • student to teacher ratio of 11.75
  • diverse curriculum and average class sizes of 22 students
  • students from many different backgrounds
  • engaging learning spaces, sport and recreation areas, and increasing access to computers.

Learning English at school

On average, almost 25 percent of Victorian school students are from language backgrounds other than English. Extensive English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are offered and many schools employ Multicultural Education Aides to assist students.

Each school is different. Some have students mainly from Anglo-Saxon backgrounds, while others have a mix of many nationalities in their classes.

VCE – Senior years

During senior years, students work towards the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). This is the official government secondary qualification considered for entry to universities in Australia, and overseas. Many Victorian schools also offer the International Baccalaureate, an internationally recognised secondary school qualification.

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.

University degrees

Bachelor’s Degree

The Bachelor Degree is Victoria’s base university qualification. If you haven’t previously graduated from university, you will normally study toward a bachelor degree. A Bachelor’s degree typically requires three or four years’ full-time study or part-time equivalent.

Master’s Degree

Australia has three types of Master’s Degree programs:

  • Coursework
  • Research
  • Extended

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 Degree

Australia has three types of Doctoral Degree programs:

  • Research Doctorate
  • Professional Doctorate
  • Higher Doctorate

A typical program requires three to four years of full time study. Students 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. 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’s 13 public Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutes, also known as Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes, are internationally recognised for their industry relevant training, world class facilities and work-ready graduates.

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

  • Benchmarked against best global practice and are developed in close consultation with industry to meet worldwide skills needs
  • Competency-based and recognise existing skills, to allow you to move through training at your own pace
  • Available to be undertaken as training in the workplace, online or on campus in Melbourne, Victoria
  • or other campuses worldwide
  • Developed to provide a structured pathway to higher education, in cooperation with Victorian
  • Universities Victoria’s VET institutes lead Australia in transnational education.

They account for around 70 per cent of all education and training delivered offshore by Australian education providers, at their international campuses and in partnerships with educational institutions in other countries.

Four of Australia’s five dual sector universities are in Victoria. They offer VET courses, higher education and pathways from VET to higher education qualifications.

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 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 will 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 offshore institutions. There are also offshore campuses where you can study in your home country.

Studying in your home country provides the flexibility to either:

  • qualify for advanced standing with an Australian education provider
  • start or complete your course at home.

Depending on the partnership arrangement, this would allow you to qualify with the same internationally-recognised qualification offered in Melbourne but complete part of the course in your home country.

Check the information specific to your home country as offerings vary between institutes. Melbourne universities or colleges currently have offshore offerings in:

  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Africa
  • Thailand
  • Timor
  • United Kingdom
  • Vietnam

Please check institution sites for more details and updates.

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 institute websites for more information on off-campus courses. Please note, it is not permitted to study for more than a quarter of your course online on a student visa.

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. 

Last updated: 29 Sep 2015


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