The Australian education system is based on the British system. However, in recent years the system has been modified to reflect Australian needs and priorities. In most states, education is compulsory for children between 6 and 15 years of age (16 in Tasmania). Many children begin their education at preschool centres. Most students wear a uniform in school. About one-quarter of the students attend girls' or boys' private schools, many of which are affiliated with religious groups.

 The Australian school year begins in late January or early February and ends at the beginning of December for summer and Christmas holidays. There are also three shorter school holidays: at Easter, in late June or mid-July, and in late September or early October.

At the end of Year 10, when they are 15, students earn the School Certificate. At this time, students may choose to go to a technical college or to apprentice in a trade, or to proceed to Years 11 and 12, which prepare them for college or university. 

Students in remote areas of the Outback can receive education by correspondence and through the Schools of the Air. They submit and receive their assignments by mail and communicate with their teachers by radio. Correspondence teachers may also make home visits and hold weekend mini-schools, group activity days and annual school functions. The Schools of the Air bring rural children in contact with other young people. 

  Did you know?

One School of the Air in Northern Territory serves an area of more than a million square kilometres. It calls itself the "world's largest classroom."

Within the last decade, educational opportunities for the children of Aborigines have been improved. More than 18,000 Aboriginal children are in high schools and more than 150 in universities. Educational grants are available for Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islanders.

 Australia has 19 universities. The best-known are the Australian National University in Canberra, Sydney University and the University of Melbourne. Government financial support is available for students who require it. Government-supported public colleges known as Technical and Further Education colleges offer technical degrees.