Government and non-government education in Australia

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Education in Australia can be classified according to sources of funding and administrative structures. There are two broad categories of school in Australia: Government schools (also known as public or state schools) and non-government schools, which can be further subdivided into Catholic schools and independent schools.

Primary and secondary[edit]

There are 10,584 registered schools operating in Australia in 2019 of which 7092 were government schools.[1] As of 2019, government schools have 65.4% of all students.[2] Of the non-government schools, nearly two-thirds were Catholic.[3] The major part of government run schools' costs are met by the relevant state or territory government.[4] The Australian Government provides the majority of public funding for non-government schools, which is supplemented by states and territories.[5]

Non-government schools, both religious or secular typically charge compulsory tuition and other fees. Government schools provide education without compulsory tuition fees, although many government schools ask for payment of 'voluntary' fees to defray particular expenses.[6]

Regardless of whether a school is government or non-government, it is regulated by the same curriculum standards framework. The framework is administered by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.[7]


Government schools are run by the respective state government.[4] They offer free education; however, many schools ask parents to pay a contribution fee and a materials and services charge.[6] [8]

Government schools can be divided into two categories: open and selective schools. Of the 7092 government schools, only 25 are fully selective,[9] while others offer selective programs within open schools, such as the Gifted and Talented Education program in Western Australia.[10]


Chapel at Scotch College, Melbourne, a well known private Australian P-Y12 college

Non-government schools can be divided into two groups. Religion-based schools are operated by the Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic denominations as well as a number of other church or parachurch organisations. By far the most numerous are Catholic schools, which are run by state-level Catholic Education offices, with the national issues managed by the National Catholic Education Commission.[11] Some Catholic schools are run independently by congregations or orders. The rest are known as independent schools, which are largely Protestant grammar schools.

Non-government school fees can vary from under $100 per month[12] to $2000 and upwards,[13] depending on the student's year level and the school's size. Non-government school uniforms tend to be more expensive than those for government schools, and more strictly enforced.

The most expensive independent non-government schools (such as the APS Schools, the AGSV Schools in Melbourne, the GPS Schools, QGSSSA Schools in Brisbane and the AAGPS Schools in Sydney) charge fees up to $41,000 per year[13] and are therefore able to afford facilities that government schools and church-run Catholic schools cannot.


Both Government and non-government universities can be found in Australia. As of 2019 there are 43 universities operating in Australia;[14] there are 39 government, two Catholic and one non-profit private universities. Admissions by Australian citizens to public and Catholic universities in Australia are based on the prospective student's academic achievement. Admission to the other non-government university, Bond University, is dependent on a student's ability to pay tuition fees as well as academic achievement.[15]

Domestic students are not usually subject to upfront fees at a public university if enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP). As well as receiving government subsidies to the cost of tertiary education, students in CSPs have the option of deferring the whole of their financial contributions to their enrollment cost, via the Commonwealth Supported Students scheme. Students may also enrol in a non-Commonwealth Supported Place, known as a FULL-FEE place, and must pay all upfront fees, which are typically greater than a standard Commonwealth Supported Students debt. The national government provides at least partial funding for all universities in Australia.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Australian Schools List". Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  2. ^ "How Are Schools Funded in Australia?". Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  3. ^ "1301.0 Year Book Australia 2012". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "What is the Australian education system?". Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
  5. ^ "School Funding". Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b >"Private Funding of Schools" (PDF). Parliament House Australia. p. 22-24. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Australian Curriculum". Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Voluntary School Fees Under the Gun". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Selective or comprehensive?". Good Schools Guide. Good Education Froup. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Gifted and Talented". Western Australia Department of Education. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Role and History". Role and History - NCEC. National Catholic Education Commission. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  12. ^ "School Fees". Good Schools Guide. Good Education Group. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Private School Fees and Costs". Exfin International Pty LTD. Retrieved 2016-06-07.[better source needed]
  14. ^ "Universities and Higher Education". Austrade. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Bond University". Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre. Retrieved 6 April 2019.