There are two types of tertiary education programs in Australia: those offered by universities; and those offered by institutions, private training providers and industry in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.
The Universities: The Australian higher education sector comprises 38 public universities and two private universities, which are autonomous and self-accrediting (http://www.australian-universities.com ).
Among these universities, the Group of Eight (Go8) is a coalition of leading eight universities, (http://www.go8.edu.au/) intensive in research and comprehensive in general and professional education.
Besides that the Australian Technology Network (http://www.atn.edu.au/) brings together five universities in Australia, committed to forging partnerships with industry and government to deliver practical results through focused research.
Universities and other higher education institutions offer programs leading to a bachelor's degree and a range of postgraduate degrees, including higher degrees by research. Some universities also offer shorter undergraduate and corporate development programs. Most universities have 2 semesters; the academic year begins in February and ends in November. The terms 'University' and 'Degree' are protected in Australia so that only institutions, which meet Australia's quality assurance processes, are allowed to use these titles. Under the Australian Qualifications Framework (http://www.aqf.edu.au/), all universities that are registered have approximately 4000 formal agreements with universities around the world. Some Australian universities concentrate on traditional areas of learning, whilst others are more vocational. The national government provides the funding for universities in all the states.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector : Australia's VET system provides individuals with the skills required in a modern economy and delivers training that is practical and career-oriented. Institutions are supposed to be closely linked with industry. Vocational courses, including in the popular fields of computing, business studies, marketing, tourism and hospitality, are provided at both the government-funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and at private institutions. The teaching year for TAFE institutes and colleges is from late January to mid-December; in some states and territories it is divided into 3 terms, while others use a semester system. Australian VET qualifications are designed to provide students with nationally recognised competencies that employers have identified as critical to their needs. Students achieve a qualification only after meeting the set competency standards. Each state has a Vocational Education and Training (VET) or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system. It may be noted, however, that the criteria for such competencies may change from time to time. Each state manages its system and meets at a national level to coordinate their effort. VET is transferable between all states. Study done in one state gains the same status in another state. Typically, a VET/TAFE course takes two years of study.
MEA Statements on Student Attacks in Australia