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Preschool and school education has a similar structure across Australia with only slight variations amongst the States and Territories. School education is thirteen years with some variations in Queensland and Western Australia. It is divided into a preparatory year, primary schooling and secondary schooling.

Preschool education commonly starts at five years of age for one year and is not compulsory. Primary schooling beginning at age six provides a general elementary programme lasting for six or seven years. Students enter secondary education in Year 7 or 8. School education is compulsory until students reach school leaving age which varies across states. The current leaving age for each state is 16 yrs for Western Australia, 15 yrs for the Northern Territory, 15 yrs for New South Wales, 16 yrs for Tasmania, 16 yrs for Victoria, 15 yrs for Queensland and 16 yrs for South Australia. Students have to sit a Year 12 exam to assess their eligibility to proceed with higher education.

Around 68% of Australian children attend free, government-funded schools which are mostly co-educational and nonreligious. A parallel fee-paying sector also exists, including independent schools and schools run by various religious institutions. Children who need to attend boarding school in their secondary school years because of rural isolation will usually attend schools of this type, and their boarding costs are subsidised by the Government.

Tertiary education programmes can be divided into two main types, those offered by institutions and industry within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, and higher education programmes which are mainly offered by universities and other higher education institutions. VET is competency-based and offers a wide variety of programmes under the National Training Framework (NTF).

There are approximately 4,000 registered training organisations, including TAFE institutes, private training and assessment organisations, enterprises, universities, schools and adult education providers throughout Australia.

For more information visit - www.dest.gov.au



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