Australian education system is flexible and offers a wide range of study options to international students. Australia is one of the most popular study destinations for Hong Kong students. According to statistics from the Australian Department of Education and Training, there were around 16,500 student enrolments from Hong Kong as at November 2018.
Australia provides international students with rigorous consumer protection, backed by national legislation Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS). In addition, overseas students may be eligible for the Post-study Work Visa if they completed a Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral degree in Australia.
The Australian school system is generally 12 years. The primary level comprises 6 or 7 years, depending on the State / Territory. Many Australian schools, both public and private, accept overseas applications.
Australian schools prepare students for further study at universities, vocational colleges or other higher education institutes. Upon completion of Year 10, students will be issued with the Secondary Certificate of Education by states and territories. Based on their needs and ability, student can continue their senior school studies or vocational and education training at certificate level. Senior secondary years, leading to matriculation, are Years 11 and 12. Australian schools issue the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education after successful completion of the final two years of schooling. International students can apply to an Australian senior secondary school (Year 11 and 12) and sit for the public examination as the benchmark for university entry. The academic year begins in late January or early February and ends in November or December. Some schools may accept new students during the year.
Australian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) providers, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and a number of universities and schools provide vocational courses. These courses offer practical and professional knowledge and skills. The VET sector offers a vast range of options – from apprenticeship programs to certificate and diploma programs and even selected degrees. Several universities across Australia provide vocational courses in association with TAFE institutes or private VET institutions. That means students completing VET courses in these institutions can enroll in the higher education faculties and receive credit towards a degree. Courses usually commence in February and July each year, with some commencing in October.
Foundation Studies is another pathway to undergraduate study at universities in Australia. Foundation Studies are designed for international students. It is based on the undergraduate programs offered at Australian universities, providing them with a better understanding and foundation of the subjects they will study. Students are not required to sit for the public examination. They are assessed and examined based on their performance in assignments, examinations, class participation, attendance and group exercises. They must reach a certain academic standard before a place at the specified university is confirmed.
Foundation studies have several intakes throughout the year, generally starting in February / March or July / August.
There are 43 universities in Australia (40 Australian universities, two international universities, and one private specialty university) offering a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses. Along with our universities, many other institutions offer higher education courses. Bachelor degrees are normally three or four years in duration. Master degrees, by research or course work, take one to two years and PhD programmes need a minimum of three years. The first semester usually commences in late February or early March, but it is also possible to enrol in some courses in July.
Secondary 6 graduates from Hong Kong who hold the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination results can enter university in Australia if their academic performance and English proficiency meet the university’s entry requirements. On average, most institutions require Level 3 to 4 in three to five subjects. Some require Level 4 and 5 in four or more subjects. Individual institutions also accept English Language at Level 4 for admission.
The general admission requirements of individual Australian universities and institutions for HKDSE holders are available on the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority website. Students are advised to check with the individual institutions for detailed admission requirements.
If oversea students completed a Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral degree, they may be eligible for the Post-Study Work Visa. Please visit the website of Australian Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and Citizenship (https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au) for details.
Many schools of English, both in the private and public sector, offer English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS). They are able to prepare students to reach the required level of English to enter a formal course of study.