Independent Schools in Australia

Well known internationally for golden beaches, dazzling vistas and brilliant sunshine, Australia is now also known internationally for the excellence of its education system and wide appeal to international students at all levels.

Independent Schools in Australia

In 1997, there were some 16,000 overseas students in Australian schools, and a further 140,000 at other levels of education.

There are many reasons for this appeal. The education system in Australia has a long history of excellence with Nobel Prize winners and Rhodes Scholars in a diverse array of fields.

This tradition of excellence starts in Australia’s schools. Australia is also a popular destination for international students due to the energetic and multicultural nature of its society.

At the school level, some international students come to Australia to prepare for further tertiary study at Australian universities or in the fields of vocational education and training ranging from computer technology to industrial design and to hospitality.

Others come to study at Australian schools in order to gain ‘international perspective’. Australia is ideally suited for this, being both exciting and vibrant, and also a safe destination for young people.

The Australian school system offers a choice between government-operated, and privately operated schools.

The latter are government registered and nearly all operate on a non-profit basis. Included in this latter group are Australia’s 900-odd independent schools, which account for over 300,000 or 10% of enrolments in Australian schools.

Two thirds of overseas students in Australian schools are enrolled in independent schools.

Most independent schools are constituted and governed independently on an individual school basis (unlike government schools and most Catholic schools, which are governed and administered as constituent parts of a school system).

Many schools which share a common church affiliation are governed on an independent single-school basis.

The independent sector of schooling in Australia also counts among its number several groups of schools with common aims and educational philosophies that are governed and administered as small systems.

Independent schools may be affiliated with the larger and smaller Christian denominations, or with the Islamic and Jewish faiths; they may be schools with varying interpretations of mainstream school education or schools that promote a particular philosophy of education, such as the Montessori or Steiner schools.

Other independent schools, such as Aboriginal community schools or co-operative schools cater for particular community groups.

Overall, there is a strong emphasis on providing a values-based education, on pastoral care and personal development. Strong academic programs are combined with programs designed to ensure broadly-based student development and involving, for example, musical and artistic endeavour, sport, and outdoor activity.

Many independent schools have established partnership arrangements with schools in one or more overseas countries - for example in Asia, in Europe and in North America - under which a variety of contacts operate, and visits of students and staff are arranged.

The Internet is also providing increasing levels of contact between schools and students in Australia, and schools and students in other countries.

Independent schools have a long history of educating young people in Australia. Day schools, boarding schools, co-educational and or girls or boys only, independent schools large and small are providing parents with wide choice in educating their children, in the city and in the country.

Independent schools are an expression of the personal and religious freedoms which enrich Australian society and protect its democratic way of life.

Further Information

Inquiries should be addressed directly to a particular Australian independent school of your choice. The National Council of Independent Schools’ Associations (NCISA) does not provide a referral service. School contact details can be found on this site or through the internet at the following locations:

(includes links to State and Territory Associations of Independent Schools)

(provided by Australian Education International, operating under the auspices of the Australian Federal Government)

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