Finding ur course and education calender

Australia offers a diverse range of study options for international students, with more than 1,200 institutions and over 22,000 courses to choose from. You can study at all levels of education from primary and secondary school, to vocational education and training (VET), from English language courses to higher education (including universities). And regardless of what you are studying or how long you are studying for, Australia’s laws promote quality education and protection for international students. This includes the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 (opens in a new window) and the National Code of Practice (opens in a new window) for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (National Code). These provide nationally consistent standards for providers of education and training for international students. As an international student on a student visa, you must study with an institution and in a course that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). CRICOS registration guarantees that the course and the institution at which you study meet the high standards expected by international students. You can search for courses and institutions here on the Study in Australia website.

Along with the ESOS Act and National Code, there are also regulatory and quality assurance organisations for higher education and VET institutions. These government organisations are responsible for registration/re-registration of institutions and accreditation/re-accreditation of courses. These organisations are:

  • Higher educationTertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) (opens in a new window)
  • VETAustralian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) (opens in a new window)

Academic year dates in Australia

The academic year in Australia varies depending on the type of study you are undertaking.

Many institutions also offer a mid-year, or second semester start. Start dates and the number of semesters vary by course and institution, so please check directly on your institution’s website for details.

Below is a general guide on the academic year for the different levels of study in Australia:


  • Length – 13 years in total (Kindergarten/Preparatory to Year 12)
  • Semesters – 4 (usually called terms’)
  • Starts – Late January/early February


  • Length – From 5 weeks to 1 year
  • Semesters – The year is split into weeks
  • Starts – Throughout the year



  • Length – 1 year
  • Semesters – The semester breaks will depend on your course
  • Starts – February but can vary by course and institutions

Vocational Education and Training

  • Length – 1 to 4 years
  • Semesters – Two
  • Starts – February, but can vary by course and institutions


  • Length – Typically 3 years (4 years for honours degree)
  • Semesters – Two, although some institutions offer three semesters (trimesters)
  • Starts – Typically March, but can vary by course and institution


  • Length – 1 to 2 years
  • Semesters – Two, although some institutions offer three semesters (trimesters)
  • Starts – Typically March, but can vary by course and institution


  • Length – 3 years
  • Semesters – As most doctoral candidates do not attend class, there are usually no formal semester
  • Starts – Your start date will be negotiated with your supervisor

Course credits and exemptions

  • In Australia, you can use course credits you have already earned to build on your studies.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), or credit transfer, refers to the recognition of previous informal and formal training, work experience, professional development, professional licensing and examinations, and other work-based education and training. Credit transfer is available in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, at the discretion of the institution. Credit can also be given for previous vocational education and training (VET) studies.
  • Australia has a system to recognise qualifications from other countries. The Australian Government organisation National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) (opens in a new window) helps Australian institutions to recognise qualifications from overseas, allowing for recognition of your previous studies.
  • Below is a brief explanation of the difference between credits and exemptions.


  • You need an overall number of units or subjects during a course to earn your qualification.If you bring work or study experience from somewhere else, your new provider may allow credit that contributes to your total, so you don’t have to repeat classes


  • An exemption also means you’re excused from attending a unit or subject.
  • If you get an exemption rather than a credit, you might have to take another unit or subject to earn credits and contribute to your overall qualification.

How do you get a course credit or exemption?

The requirements and process vary by institution and course, but generally details of your work experience can be anything that proves your experience – from a workplace reference to a published work. Study experience will usually be an academic transcript or qualification documents from your last education institution, as well as a description of the curriculum you covered.Once you have decided on a preferred course and institution, contact one of their course specialists and tell them about your study plan.They will be able to give advice about the best education pathway that allows for credits or exemptions and suits your goals