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Education In Australia

Australian Higher Education

Australia’s higher education system is made up of universities and higher education providers that play a critical role in fuelling innovation, driving productivity and giving students the skills they need for future success.

There are 125 registered higher education providers in Australia. There are also 43 universities; 40 of which are Australian, two international, and one private specialty university. Australian universities have more than one million enrolled students and employ over 100,000 staff.

Higher education peak bodies include Universities Australia, the Group of Eight, the Australian Technology Network of Universities, Innovative Research Universities, the Regional Universities Network, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training and the Council of Private Higher Education.

37 Australian universities have been included among the world’s best in the latest QS World University Rankings. Seven Australian universities are in the global top 100, with a further 10 making the top 300.

Five Australian institutions claimed top 25 places in the Times Higher Education ranking of the most international universities – a new measure that takes account of the proportion of international staff and students and the strength of international reputations and cross-border research collaborations.

Sixteen of Australia’s universities appear in the ranking of the world’s top 100 universities less than 50-years-old, and half of these are in the top 50. This is a higher number of young universities than any other nation in the world.27

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) is an alternative ranking system that compares higher education institutions and study areas, based on the results of thousands of surveys completed by domestic and international, current and former students.

Research is a defining characteristic of Australia’s universities. Indeed, to be recognised as a university, our institutions must demonstrate quality-benchmarked research proficiency in at least three disciplines. This structural prerequisite balances the spread of knowledge with the creation of knowledge.

  • Australia accounts for nearly 3 per cent of the world’s research output, with less than half a per cent of the world’s population
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world, is in the top 1 per cent of world scientific institutions in 14 of 22 research fields
  • Across 22 scientific research fields, over 80 per cent of Australia’s major scientific research publications have a relative impact of at least 20 per cent above the global average28
  • Australia has educated 15 Nobel laureates over the last century, in the fields of medicine, science and literature
  • The Australian Synchrotron is the largest stand-alone piece of scientific infrastructure in the southern hemisphere
  • The €1.5 billion Square Kilometre Array telescope has been jointly awarded to Australia, New Zealand and southern Africa
  • Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of patent applications for innovations in renewable energy and biotechnology

Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector is based on a partnership between governments and industry. Industry and employer groups contribute to training policies and priorities, and to developing qualifications that deliver skills to the workforce.

VET qualifications are provided by registered training organisations (RTOs) which include government institutions called Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions, as well as private institutions.

There are approximately 5,000 RTOs in Australia. Across metropolitan and regional areas, Australia has 58 government owned TAFE institutes and university TAFE divisions, and the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC).

VET industry bodies include TAFE Directors Australia and the Australian Council for Private Education and Training.