In Australia, each state and territory has its own education system and issues its own secondary school qualification.

Some states require temporary visa holders, such as 457 temporary workers, to pay an annual family school fee for their children to attend school. These fees vary from state to state and are outlined in the individual sate summaries below.


The education system consists of:

  1. pre-school (usually aged 4 – 5 years old )
  2. primary school (usually aged 5 or 6  years old- 13 years old)
  3. secondary school (usually aged 12 or 13 years old – 17 or 18  years old)
  4. Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE)
  5. university.


Each state issues a secondary school qualification which students study for in years 11 and 12. These are usually awarded at the end of year 12. This qualification can also come with an Overall Position score which contributes to a student’s university eligibility.  Secondary school students can gain entry to unversity based on their end of year 12 results.

The  Australian Qualification Framework or AQF has 10 levels:

AQF level Qualification type
Level 1 Certificate I
Level 2 Certificate II
Level 3 Certificate III
Level 4 Certificate IV
Level 5 Diploma
Level 6 Advanced diploma
Associate degree
Level 7 Bachelor degree
Level 8 Bachelor honours degree
Vocational graduate certificate
Vocational graduate diploma
Graduate certificate
Graduate diploma
Level 9 Masters degree (research)
Masters degree (coursework)
Masters degree (extended)
Level 10 Doctoral degree
Higher doctoral degree


Vocational Education and Training (VET), Technical and Further Education (TAFE) offer qualifications and prepares people for work in a career that does not need a university degree.


There are universities in every major city and regional areas of Australia. Though the Australian government provides funding for universities in all states, universities charge fees for their courses. Each university is run independently and set their own course and content. However, a professional body must endorse a course for it to run.  Typically, a university course takes three or four years of study.

Australian universities attract many international students. In fact, Australia is the 3rd most popular international student destination in the world and the 1st most popular destination for the Asia region. To study in Australia, international students need to obtain a student visa.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, children can start their education in Kindergarten, however compulsory schooling starts the following year in Pre-primary.

Every child from Pre-primary to Year 12 is guaranteed a place at their local public school.

School Fees for 457 visa families

In 2015 the Western Australian Government introduced a tuition fee for families on 457 Visas (temporary skilled workers) whose children attend public schools in this state. The fee is $4000 per family each year, regardless of the number of children a family have enrolled in public schools.

You will receive a Fee Advice for $4,000 from TAFE International Western Australia, the State Government agency responsible for overseas fee paying students attending Western Australian public schools. The Fee Advice will be sent to you as an email or in the post. You can elect to pay the tuition fee upfront or in instalments (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) via direct debit.

Enrolling your child into School

  1. To enrol your child in public school, visit your local school as soon as possible.

Use the Department of Education and Training’s ‘Find a school’ tool:

2. Follow the steps to enrol you child into school here.

Private Schools

About 30% of Western Australian school children attend private schools.

For a list of private schools in Perth and WA visit:

Boarding Schools

For a list of boarding schools in Perth and WA, visit

New South Wales

Search for NSW government primary and high schools available for enrolment by international students or temporary residents:

School Fees for 457 visa families

The fees for 2016/2017 are $5000 for years 1 – 10, and $6000 for year 11 to 12. An administration fee of $110 to enrol each child also applies.

Enrolling your child into School

If your child has not been previously enrolled in a NSW public school, you will need to bring these documents with you:

  • your child’s birth certificate or identity documents
  • proof of your child’s address – originals of different documents such as your council rates notice or residential lease and electricity bill
  • immunisation history statement based on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR)
  • family law or other relevant court orders (if applicable).

If your child is not a permanent resident you will also need to provide:

  • passport or travel documents
  • current visa and previous visas (if applicable)

If you are the holder of a temporary work visa or visitor visa  you will first need to apply to enrol by contacting the temporary residents program who will give you forms to bring to the school.

Rural and Distance Education

Rural and Distance Education Team can provide you with more advice if you’re moving to a rural location within New South Wales.

Rural & Distance Education Team

NSW Department of Education & Communities

140 William Street

(PO Box 717)


T: (02) 6334 8070

F: (02) 6334 8069



All children aged between 6 and 17 must attend school.

To find a school, visit the ‘My School’ site.

School Fees for 457 visa families

No additional school fees apply. The fee structure is the same for children of 457 visa holders as it is for Australian permanent residents and citizens.

Enrolling your child into school

To enrol your child in a Victorian government school you will need to fill out an enrolment form at that school and provide the school with important information about your child, including:

  • evidence of your child’s date of birth (if they were not born in Australia, a passport or travel document such as a visa)
  • your contact, phone and address details, and that of any other parent, guardian and/or carer
  • names and contact details of emergency contacts
  • doctor’s and dentist’s names and phone numbers
  • Immunisation Status Certificate
  • health and welfare information
  • information about the language/s your child speaks and hears at home

Primary School

To start primary school in Victoria your child will need to turn five years of age by 30 April of the year that they start school.

Your child must be at school in the year that they turn six years of age – this is the compulsory school starting age.

Secondary School

Victorian secondary school is from Year 7 to Year 12.

Victorian children usually begin secondary (high) school at 12 years of age. It is a legal requirement that students attend school until they complete Year 10. After Year 10 and up to age 17 they must continue in approved education or be in full-time employment.

Private Schools

For a list of private schools in Melbourne and Victoria visit:


All children aged between 6 and 17 must attend school.

School Fees for 457 visa families

No additional school fees apply. The fee structure is the same for children of 457 visa holders as it is for Australian permanent residents and citizens.

Enrolling your child into school

To enrol your child, contact the school directly. More advice is provided here.

Preparatory school

Children must be aged five years by 30 June in the year of proposed attendance.

You can enrol your child in Prep by contacting the school directly, and you must provide proof of your child’s date of birth (e.g. birth certificate, passport or visa).

Secondary school

The Department of Education and Training overseas education in Queensland.

Secondary school starts at Year 7. You may enrol your child in the local secondary school by contacting the school directly. 

Private Schools including boarding schools

For a list of independent schools in Queensland, visit


The Queensland Certificate of Education is the state’s highest school qualification recognised nationally in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

It is a senior school qualification and is awarded to eligible students (usually at the end of Year 12) by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

An Overall Position or OP is also awarded to eligible students and contributes to a student’s university eligibility.

South Australia

Your child must be at school by their sixth birthday which is the compulsory school starting age.

In South Australia placement in a school is based on a child’s residential address.

School Fees for 457 visa families

From January 2017, newly arriving 457 visa holders will be required to contribute to the cost of educating their children in government schools.

This requirement will then extend to all 457 visa holders from 1 January 2018.

The annual contribution payable by a family in South Australia on a 457 visa for 2017is:

  •  $5,100 for each primary school student
  •  $6,100 for each high school student

This amount would be charged for the eldest child in a family, with the fees for all siblings attracting a 10% discount.
The proposed changes would allow parents to elect to pay the contribution:

  •  upfront annually
  •  per semester
  •  per term, or
  •  in regular instalments.

Enrolling your child into School

Acceptance into a particular school is subject to the school’s capacity, and the principal of the school will be able to advise you if they have available places.

Please contact the school directly in relation to enrolment.

You should contact the school you are interested in to enquire about their enrolment timelines. This is typically towards the end of the year.

Once a vacancy is offered, many schools will ask parents and students to attend a pre-enrolment interview with a member of the school leadership.

During the pre-enrolment interview a staff member can help you complete the school enrolment form and answer any questions.

When looking to enrol your child into high school (secondary school), parents should register your interest with the relevant school during year 7.

Private Schools

There are over a hundred independent schools across South Australia, the majority of which are located around Adelaide.

Boarding Schools

For a list of boarding schools in South Australia, visit


The South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) is the state’s highest school qualification. The SCACE is a 2 year qualification usually studied in years 11 and 12 of secondary school.

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