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Australia has a world class education and skills system …

Australia has a quality higher education system with a number of world class institutions. Our vocational education and training sector provides valuable skills training for a productive workforce. Australia's public and private schools are also delivering good outcomes for most of the 3.4 million students enrolled across the country.

In 2006 there were:

  • 3.4 million students enrolled in Australia's schools
  • more than 950,000 students enrolled in the higher education sector
  • around 1.6 million publicly funded students undertaking vocational education and training
  • around 405,000 people undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship.

We have a quality higher education system that is internationally competitive. Our leading universities perform well in international rankings.


Education services are our fourth largest export worth approximately $10 billion each year. In 2005, a record 239,000 international students (25 per cent of all enrolments) studied at Australian universities, an increase of 52 per cent over 2001.

Australian school students perform well in standardised OECD testing, ranking 4th in science and reading proficiency and 8th in maths in 2003.

More generally, improvements in educational attainment at both the secondary and tertiary level have helped to underpin Australia's improved productivity and participation performance since the early 1990s.

Graph: Educational attainment by decade of birth (age group), 2004 (Tertiary)



Graph: Educational attainment by decade of birth (age group), 2004 (Upper Secondary)

Upper Secondary

Educational attainment by decade of birth (age group), 2004

Realising Our Potential 1