The way that the undergraduate degree programs are organized in Australia is based on the way that the United Kingdom has their university systems set up. The Australian universities do not offer some of the other types of undergraduate degrees (i.e. foundations degrees) that the UK does, but overall, the system is very similar to what you will see there.
There is one thing that makes Australia’s education system unique from the education systems in most other countries; this is known as the Australian Qualifications Framework. This framework governs all of Australian education, but it specifically focuses on the secondary (high school) and tertiary (undergraduate and post graduate) levels. This has divided the education system into a variety of levels based on the amount of education that the student decides to take on. The system is also simple and flexible enough that international students can come into it without a lot of issues.
The college and university framework consists of ten different levels. The first 7 levels of the AQF are based in undergraduate studies, level 8 is a step between undergraduate and postgraduate studies, and levels 9 and 10 are at the postgraduate level. We will explore the graduate portion of level 8, level 9 and level 10 in more detail in the postgraduate section of this site.
Certificate Levels 1 to 4
These certificates are the baseline educational steps. Getting these certificates take anywhere from 6 months to a year, but it could take more or less time depending on where you go. The first two levels of certificates are similar to certificates that you may find in other countries for jobs like administrative positions and other positions that take little to no formal training. Levels 3 and 4 are similar to the vocational certificates that you may find at trade schools, and may teach more specialized skills such as welding, machinery, and basic IT skills. It can also help prepare the student for higher undergraduate education.
Diploma (Level 5)
The diploma level is a step above level 4, and helps the students involved to gain advanced cognitive and technical knowledge in a particular field. It normally takes about 2 years to obtain these degrees, and they are usually in paraprofessional fields.
Advanced Diploma, Associate Degree (Level 6)
The associate degree or advanced diploma can take anywhere from 2-3 years, and counts for approximately 3 to 4 semesters of bachelor’s work if the student decides to go for a bachelor’s degree later on. Advanced diplomas are given to those studying technical or vocational fields; associates degrees are given to those who are studying fields that are considered to be more academic. A diploma or an associate’s degree can be very helpful in the process of obtaining employment in Australia or your home country.
Bachelor’s Degrees (Level 7)
These degrees are the standard degrees that are recognized around the world as an “undergraduate degree.” In Australia, the average amount of time needed to complete a bachelor’s level degree is anywhere from three to four years, depending on your university and the degree that you are pursuing. Most fields that require any type of research are the ones that usually take four years.
Here are some of the programs that you could end up earning a bachelor’s degree in while in Australia.
- Anthropology and Archaeology
- Classical history
- Social sciences (sociology, psychology, etc)
- Computer Science
- Business (economics, management)
- Medical fields/pre-medical fields
- Music and arts
- Philosophy and other similar disciplines
- English (Literature, etc)
- Theology and Religion
STEM majors (Sciences (earth sciences, biology, chemistry), Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Level 8 – Bachelor Honours Degrees
Level 8 is split between bachelor’s honours degrees and graduate certificates. In our postgraduate article, we will explore the graduate level certificates, but we will take a brief look at bachelor honours degrees here. You can obtain an honours degree in two ways – if your bachelor’s degree would have been finished in three years, you can earn one by staying in school for an extra year and performing certain tasks and/or research. You may also obtain an honours degree if you graduate with a certain grade average while obtaining a four year bachelor’s degree. Any excess requirements (thesis, research projects, etc) needed to obtain your honours degree will be determined by the university you are attending and the program that you are in.
Not sure what level of study you would be pursuing? You can find more information at the AQF’s website. The AQF website goes into much more detail and can help you understand the ins and outs of their educational system.
If you are looking to go to Australia as an international student while you are working on your undergraduate degree, there are a few websites that you should check out.
These websites may be able to help you find the right Australian university for you.
You can also contact individual universities and go to their websites for more information as well. They will be happy to help you with any questions that you may have about their undergraduate programs.