Western Australia has a three-tier educational system, with some educational institutions spanning more than one tier.

Pre-Primary & Primary Education (ages 4 to 12)

Education is compulsory for all Western Australian students in accordance with the School Education Act 1999. All children from age 6½ to 16 must be enrolled in an appropriate educational program.  The compulsory school entry age is 6 years and 6 months.  The minimum school leaving age  is 17 years  unless a suitable alternative education/training program or work placement can be identified.  The school year normally begins at the end of January or early February and concludes in mid-December. Children have access to kindergarten and pre-primary education, but attendance is not compulsory.

Primary education extends over the first seven years of education (Years 1 to 7).  Children normally complete primary school at the age of 12 or 13. Residents do not pay tuition fees in public (government) schools although there is a minimum voluntary charge payable.  In private (non-government) schools, tuition fees are charged.

International primary age children on a 571 visa and who are accompanied by a parent or a close family member are permitted to enrol in public and private schools on a fee-paying basis.  Two hundred free places are available in public schools for the dependents of postgraduate students, who for enrolment, must work through their respective university international office.  Should, the children need Intensive English Language or require educational support, a fee is payable.   Also, the dependants of students who have been granted Australian Government scholarships can enrol public schools but are not eligible to attend Intensive English Centres.

Secondary  Education (ages 13 to 17)

In Western Australia, education is compulsory typically up until the year the student turns 17.  Most students remain at school until Year 12.  High (secondary) schools and colleges enrol students from Years 8 to 12 of their schooling that is from ages 13 to 17 or 18.  The first three years of high school involve a wide range of subjects to provide a general and balanced education.  For the final two years (Years 11 and 12), students must decide whether they intend to continue to Tertiary level education, and if so, must prepare for the necessary examinations for admission to a tertiary educational institution.

A good Tertiary Entrance Rank, calculated from the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and from the school assessment, is a requirement for admission to any university course, so the preparation for this examination dominates the teaching of Years 11 and 12.  As a result of this, the curricula of Years 11 and 12 classes are rather more specialized. The DES website (below) may offer you an insight into the broader non-government schooling requirements WA.


Among Australian high school students, about 70% attend public schools and about 30% attend private schools.  The public high schools provide free tuition to Australians, though there are charges for some subject areas, activities, books, etc. Christian religious groups founded most of the private high schools and colleges, for Australian students. In recent years Islamic schools have been founded. Most of these schools do not require that their students be of the same or any religious group or belief. There are some private schools with no religious links.

There are over 60 private schools registered and 26 public secondary schools, including two country senior high schools and one agricultural college, approved to accept international students.  A number of public primary schools are also able to enrol primary aged students.  In private schools the fees for international students are higher than for Australian students who are subsidised by the government.  The tuition fee for international students in schools does vary. Public primary and secondary schools are all co – educational.

The independent colleges with significant numbers of international students include Australian Islamic College, Methodist Ladies College, Penrhos College, Presbyterian Ladies College, St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls and St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School that cater for female students. Christ Church Grammar School, Guildford Grammar School, Hale School, Scotch College and Wesley College cater for male students.  Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School is an Anglican co – educational school in the  City of Bunbury.

The single-sex Catholic colleges with significant numbers of international students include St Brigid’s College and Iona Presentation College for females, and Aquinas College and Trinity College for males.  Co-educational colleges include Aranmore Catholic College, Newman College, John XXIII College and Mercy College.


Government Senior Colleges

Canning College

Canning College is a government senior college, established in 1982 and granted Independent Public School status in 2009. Canning is regarded as a leader in providing high quality student support services and innovative academic programs.  Major programs include: Diploma of Commerce (UWA Stream and Curtin Stream), WA Universities’ Preparatory Program, Curtin Stream Preparatory Program, Year 12 (WACE), Certificate lV (Commerce), Year 11 and a range of Bridging courses (intensive English and academic upgrading). Programs provide a quality pathway to university.

Success in the Diploma of Commerce course provides a guaranteed place into year 2 Bachelor of Commerce or Economics at either Curtin or The University of Western Australia. Canning College is renowned for the academic successes of its students.

Canning offers students a truly international experience of studying on a multicultural campus with Australians and students from many other countries. Canning’s features create an educational environment where students enjoy success.


Tuart College

TuartCollege is a co-educational government college that has provided pre-university studies for local and international students since 1982. Located in a well serviced, residential suburb, close to public transport, Tuart College has helped over 3000 international students – mainly from the South East Asian region – to gain places in some of the world’s most highly respected universities.

Programs at the College include: The Year 12 Western Australian Universities’ Preparatory Program (WAUPP), The Year 12 Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) and Year 11 Bridging Programs.

TuartCollege has an International Office to assist students with course advice, university applications, accommodation and personal matters. Accommodation available includes on-campus houses, homestay and off-campus rental houses and apartments.


Private Senior Colleges

Murdoch College

Murdoch College is a co-educational international College. Located on a university campus, International students study alongside Australian students in all subjects.  The College is organised around a Senior College and Middle School.

The Western Australian Universities’ Foundation Program (WAUFP) is specially designed for international students. Entry is guaranteed into first year bachelor degree courses at Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia to students’ who successfully complete the course, subject to specific requirements and/or quotas. The WAUFP also allows students entry into most universities throughout Australia.

A wide range of support services is provided to assist students as they progress in their education. Airport reception and accommodation services are provided.


Curtin College

Curtin College is the on-campus pathway into a range of Curtin Bachelor Degrees. The College is designed to meet the needs of students who fall short of the entry requirements to gain direct entry into the Curtin Bachelor degree of their choice, and being in the heart of Western Australia’s largest university, students are part of the university experience from day one.

The Curtin College Diploma is equivalent to year one of the corresponding university degree. After successful completion, students can move directly into the second year at Curtin University. Curtin College deliver smaller class sizes, as well as a range of personal and academic support programs.

Curtin College offers pathways to the following course areas:

  • Business & Commerce
  • Engineering
  • Health Sciences
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Communications, Design & Arts
  • Computer Science & Information Technology.


University Pathway & ELICOS Colleges

There are a number of private colleges which specially cater for international students. Some provide courses for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) as well as other courses such as vocational courses. Some have arrangements with universities to provide courses across a range of subjects such as business, IT, health sciences and communications, which, if completed at a satisfactory level, allow the student to enrol directly in a second-year university course. For examples of these institutions please refer to the advertisements appearing in this guidebook.

A number of specialized colleges provide English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), especially for those students who wish to have a brief and concentrated course. ELICOS courses are also offered by a range of private colleges, by TAFE and the universities. Inquiries about courses and admission should be made directly to each institution.


Technical & Further Education (TAFE)

Education and Training International (ETI) assists international students to obtain valuable skills and experience that provide a link to employment and to further study. ETI delivers a range of TAFE and ELICOS courses in partnership with Western Australian State Training Providers. ETI also manages the admission of students into government primary and secondary schools.  ETI is a nationally Registered Training Organisation (RTO) within the Western Australian government’s Department of Training and Workforce Development.

TAFE studies in Western Australia are delivered through a multi-campus network of State Training Providers specializing in all areas of vocational education and training.  Many TAFE courses provide students with entry to university degree courses with advanced standing (credit) for subjects already studied.

ETI offer over 250 TAFE courses including Certificate, Diploma and Associate Degree qualifications. The programmes offered range from six months to three years in duration, so there is a course to suit everybody. The State Training Providers are equipped with modern facilities and students will benefit from the skills and expertise of qualified lecturers.

Students can study TAFE qualifications in areas such as Aeronautics, Agriculture & Horticulture, Animal Studies, Art & Design, Building & Design, Business & Management, Clothing & Textiles, Computing & Information Technology, Engineering & Mining, Maritime Studies, Community & Health Services, Hospitality, Science & Technical, Travel and Tourism.

A wide range of English Language Courses are also available. Courses are accredited by NEAS (National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme) and provide students with the English language skills needed to continue with further study or improve to employment opportunities.

Western Australian government schools provide first class education to over 250,000 Australian and international students in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and colleges across the state.  Government schools provide modern facilities and offer a broad range of academic and creative subjects. International students learn in a safe, friendly and academically rewarding environment when they choose a WA government school.

For further information contact Education and Training International:



There are five universities in the Perth region. They all have campuses in other parts of the State.

Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, and the University of Western Australia are large, partly government-funded universities that provide a very wide range of degree courses from bachelor degrees to doctorate level. The University of Notre Dame Australia is a Catholic university, whose degree programs are being enlarged rapidly.

All the universities are of international standing and repute, and their degrees are recognized worldwide.  Their staff are appropriately qualified and drawn from both Australia and from overseas countries.

Each of the universities provides a similar range of facilities and services, such as extensive libraries and information services, careers advisers, student counselors and welfare services, sporting facilities, on-campus cafeterias, shops, and accommodation services.

Full details of the universities, their courses and their staff, are published in their calendars, handbooks, prospectuses, websites and guides.  Students should contact the university for further information.






University Admission

International students apply for admission directly to the university concerned (not through TISC as do Australian students). There are a number of ways in which international students can qualify for admission.

Admission to The University of Notre Dame is determined on the basis of prior studies, either in Australia or overseas, and for school leavers, on the advice of the applicant’s school.

International Student Organisations

International Student Organizations/Guilds/Clubs &Student Guilds

Each of the four public universities has a student body Guild, which represents student interests.  The elected president of the Guild is normally a member of the controlling body of that university, so is able to exert considerable influence on behalf of the students.  Along with other student clubs, international student organizations at each university are usually registered with the Student Guild and receive benefit from this. The Guild in each university has its own premises and staff to look after student affairs. For maximum benefit, you should go to your Guild Office and find out what the membership can do for you.

Some Aspects of Study in Australia

Students from other countries usually achieve good academic results in Australia because they are highly motivated and put much effort into their studies. Please think about the following:

The system of education and method of teaching in Australia may be unfamiliar to you. Also, if English is not your first language, it is likely to take time to understand and converse with those around you. At the beginning, you may have trouble in understanding lecturers, especially if they speak rapidly or with unusual accents.  If you have problems, ask at your institution about the possibility of attending English classes or to recommend helpful reading on study methods for Australian tertiary courses.  Also you should practice to improve your skills in writing rapidly and fluently in English.  In an examination, you will need to answer the questions in limited time.

Students are expected to attend classes and do assignments conscientiously, take part in tutorials and read the relevant books, without the need for prodding or encouragement by the lecturer. There may be 200 or more students in a class, and the lecturer may not know any of the individual students. The lecturer may monitor a student’s progress only through semester assignments and at examination time. So you need to have the motivation and determination to keep working consistently even though you may receive no personal encouragement or immediate recognition from the staff.

In university courses, there is emphasis on the development of independent reasoning and powers of criticism.  You may be expected to criticize established ideas and to express your own views, or even to challenge the lecturer’s interpretation of a theory or doctrine. The lecturer will expect more than a repetition of lectures, and will look for evidence of independent reading and interpretation.

Although international students have good success rates in completing their degrees, some do encounter problems.  If you are failing in individual units of your course, get help immediately from the services available at your institution, and keep on with your studies.