The Australian higher education sector is traditionally offered by universities, but now there are many institutions conducting university-level programs. These programs are accredited by state and commonwealth departments.
The programs can be categorically defined as undergraduate programs (university-level diplomas & bachelor degrees) or postgraduate programs (postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas, masters, and doctorate/PhD programs).
General Entry Requirements
Entry requirements to the undergraduate programs are generally completion of either an equivalent of Australian year 12 program or an Australian University Foundation Course, and IELTS score 6.0.
To get to a postgraduate program, normally a completion of an undergraduate program is required, and IELTS score 6.5. Some courses require higher IELTS result (such as nursing and medicine), and some others particularly arts / design courses will require the students to show a portfolio of their work.
The portfolio needs to show their artistic talent, not the technical expertise as these will be taught and refined during their study.
TOEFL results are also acceptable and can be used in lieu of IELTS.
Many courses are hard to get into, and they may have additional prerequisites such as high mathematics result in high school.
So, some people will need to overcome more obstacles to get to their chosen field, but with determination and hard work, you will have a good chance to succeed.
Length of Course
The bachelor degrees can normally be completed in 3 years (6 semesters), starting in Feb/March and finishing in November/December each year.
Engineering, Music and medical courses are normally completed after minimum of 4 years study. Some education institutions are now offering tri-mester programs, allowing students to do 3 terms per year thus completing the study in 2 years.
Postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas are usually running for 1 and 2 semesters respectively. Master programs usually run for 3 or 4 semesters.
Postgraduate courses by research can have a more flexible entry time, which is usually negotiated with the course supervisor.
The average study costs, which are usually charged one term/semester up front, range from $14,000 to $23,000 per year. Additional charges are sometimes applicable such as laboratory costs, union fees etc.
Which one is the best?
Different university excels in different areas. Most offer popular courses such as Business, Marketing, or Information Technology and Science, other may offer more vocational oriented courses. Graduates satisfaction ratings sometimes do not correspond to the prestige level of the university.
Bigger universities tend to have larger class size, higher tuition fees, but generally offer more study choices and facilities.
In the last 10 years or so, many public technical colleges are amalgamated into new universities, or becoming part of existing ones, resulting in multi-campus universities. You need to know exactly which campus you will be studying (e.g. Sydney University has a campus in Camden, which is outside the Sydney metropolitan area), because it will affect your traveling time, accommodation arrangement etc.
It is worth to remember, that the time you will spend during your study is a precious one. Regardless of the stress, anxiety, pressure from deadlines, exams, homesickness and other difficulties, it is important to make friends, join social clubs and basically have a good time of your life.