Education in Australia is compulsory between the ages of five or six and fifteen, sixteen or seventeen, depending on the State or territory and date of birth.
For primary and secondary education, government schools educate approximately 60% of Australian students, with approximately 40% in private or independent schools. At the tertiary level, the majority of Australia's universities are public, and student fees are subsidised through a student loan program where payment becomes due when graduates reach a certain income level.
For primary and secondary schools, a national Australian Curriculum has been progressively developed and implemented since 2010.
The regulation, operation, and funding of education is the responsibility of the States and territories, because the Federal Government does not have a specific constitutional power to pass laws with respect to education. However, the Federal government helps fund independent or private schools, helps fund public universities and subsidises tertiary education through a national student loan scheme, and regulates vocational education providers.
Post-compulsory education is regulated within the Australian Qualifications Framework, a unified system of national qualifications in schools, vocational education and training, and the tertiary education sector.
The academic year in Australia varies between States and institutions, but generally runs from late January/early February until early/mid-December for primary and secondary schools, with slight variations in the inter-term holidays and TAFE colleges, and from late February until mid-November for universities with seasonal holidays and breaks for each educational institute.
Preschool and pre-prep programmes in Australia are relatively unregulated, and are not compulsory. The first exposure many Australian children have to learning with others outside of traditional parenting is day care or a parent-run playgroup. This sort of activity is not generally considered schooling, as preschool education is separate from primary school in all states and territories, except Western Australia where pre-school education is taught as part of the primary school system and Victoria where the state framework, VEYLDF covers children from birth to 8 years old, is used by some schools over the federal framework. In Queensland, preschool programmes are often called Kindergarten or Pre-Prep, and are usually privately run but attract state government funding if run for at least 600 hours a year and delivered by a registered teacher.
Preschools are usually run by the state and territory governments, except in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales where they are more often run by local councils, community groups or private organisations. Preschool is offered to three- to five-year-olds; attendance numbers vary widely between the states, but 85.7% of children attended pre-school the year before school. The year before a child is due to attend primary school is the main year for pre-school education. This year is far more commonly attended, and may take the form of a few hours of activity during weekdays.
The average net cost (taking into account the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Tax Rebate entitlements) for a long day care in Australia is $3.85 per hour, or a net cost of around $46 a day for a long day care service offering 12-hour days.
Primary and secondary education
Compulsory attendance requirements
School education in Australia is compulsory between certain ages as specified by state or territory legislation. Depending on the state or territory, and date of birth of the child, school is compulsory from the age of five to six to the age of fifteen to seventeen.
In the ACT, NSW, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia, children are legally required to attend school from the age of six years old, until the minimum leaving age. In Tasmania, the compulsory school starting age is 5 years old.
In recent years, over three quarters of students stay at school until they are seventeen. Government schools educate approximately 60% of Australian students, with approximately 40% in Catholic and independent schools. A small portion of students are legally home-schooled, particularly in rural areas.
Government schools (also known as public schools) are free to attend for Australian citizens and permanent residents, while Catholic and independent schools usually charge attendance fees. However, in addition to attendance fees, stationery, textbooks, uniforms, school camps and other schooling costs are not covered under government funding. The additional cost for schooling has been estimated to be on average $316 per year per child.
Regardless of whether a school is part of the Government, Catholic or independent systems, they are required to adhere to the same curriculum frameworks of their state or territory. The curriculum framework however provides for some flexibility in the syllabus, so that subjects such as religious education can be taught. Most school students wear uniforms, although there are varying expectations and some Australian schools do not require uniforms. A common movement among secondary schools to support student voice has taken form as organisations such as VicSRC in Victoria bring together student leaders to promote school improvement.
In 2010 66% of students in Australia attended government schools, 20% attended Catholic schools and 14% attended independent schools. In 2000 these figures were 69%, 20% and 11% respectively.
Most Catholic schools are either run by their local parish, local diocese and their state's Catholic education department. Independent schools include schools operated by secular educational philosophies such as Steiner or Montessori; however, the majority of independent schools are religious, being Anglican, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic or non-denominational. In addition, many private schools are also Catholic, but independent of those run by the Church and Catholic education departments, which are classed as systemic schools. 
Tertiary education (or higher education) in Australia is primarily study at university or a technical college studying Diploma or above in order to receive a qualification or further skills and training. A higher education provider is a body that is established or recognised by or under the law of the Australian Government, a State, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory. VET providers, both public and private are registered by State and Territory governments.
There are several prominent universities located in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. There are 43 universities in Australia: 40 public universities, two international universities, one private university. The largest university in Australia is Monash University in Melbourne: it has five campuses and 75,000 students.
There are non-self-accrediting higher education providers accredited by State and Territory authorities, numbering more than 150 as listed on State and Territory registers. These include several that are registered in more than one State and Territory.
All students doing nationally recognised training need to have a Unique Student Identifier (USI).
In 2017, the number of international students studying in Australia reached a new record of 583,243. This represented an increase of more than 10% on the previous year.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) evaluation in 2006 ranked the Australian education system as sixth for reading, eighth for science and thirteenth for mathematics, on a worldwide scale including 56 countries. The PISA evaluation in 2009 ranked the Australian education system as sixth for reading, seventh for science and ninth for mathematics, an improvement relative to the 2006 rankings. In 2012, education firm Pearson ranked Australian education as thirteenth in the world 
Despite a substantial increase in government spending per student over the past ten years (after correcting for inflation), the proportion of students who are proficient in math, reading and science have actually declined over that same period. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Menzies Research Centre have both concluded that increasing school funding above a basic level has little effect on student proficiency. Instead, they both recommend greater autonomy. That is, the states should merely monitor the performance of the schools. Individual principals should have full authority and responsibility for ensuring student proficiency in core areas.
In Queensland, the Education Minister of the State of Queensland said in July 2009 that the rising levels of violence in schools in Queensland were "totally unacceptable" and that not enough had been done to combat violent behaviour. In Queensland, 55,000 school students had been suspended in 2008, nearly a third of which were for "physical misconduct".
In South Australia, 175 violent attacks against students or staff were recorded in 2008. Students were responsible for deliberately causing 3,000 injuries reported by teachers over two years from 2008 to 2009.
↑ "Early learning and schools support". Annual Report 2015. Australian Government. Department of Education. 29 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)