The education system in South Australia

The education system in South Australia consists of 3 stages - preschool, primary school and secondary school, and tertiary education.


Preschool (or kindergarten) is not compulsory in South Australia but it’s recommended to help children develop skills in preparation for primary school.

Find out more:

Primary school and secondary (high) school

Children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school.

Children can go to a government (public) school or a private school independent or Catholic school.

In their final 2 years, students at secondary school must complete the South Australia Certificate of Education (SACE).

Find out more:

Search the Education Standards Board schools register for all registered schools, both government and non-government in South Australia.

Tertiary education

All young people between the ages of 16 and 17 years must attend full-time schooling, training or work for at least 25 hours per week.

Tertiary education includes both higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET).

South Australia's public universities are Flinders UniversityThe University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, as well as an Adelaide campus for Torrens University.

Australian university rankings - Australian Government

VET institutions offer courses to build job-specific skills across a wide range of industries in Australia. VET qualifications are provided by government institutions, called Technical and Further Education (TAFE), as well as a range of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) which are regulated by the Australian Government.

VET qualifications are outcome-based and focus on the occupational skills and competencies gained.

Find out more about VET:

Search the Education Institution database for all tertiary education institutions in South Australia.

International students

South Australia also offers international students the opportunity to study and live in here.

Educational frameworks and legislation

Education Standards Board

The Education Standards Board (ESB) is the independent regulatory authority responsible for the regulation and quality assurance of early childhood education and care services in South Australia.

The board regulates approximately 1,200 early childhood education and care services under the National Quality Framework (NQF). These comprise long day care (LDC), out of school hours care (OSHC), preschools and family day care (FDC), delivering education and care to families across metropolitan, rural and remote locations.

The ESB also regulates over 100 services referred to as ‘residual services’. These services comprise in-home care, rural and mobile care, occasional care and individual family day care services and are regulated under a modified version of the Education and Care Services National Law (South Australia) (the National Law).

Australian Qualifications Framework

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)  is a national policy that covers qualifications from the tertiary education sector (higher education and vocational education and training) in addition to the school-leaving certificate; the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

The AQF has 10 levels and links school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system. This allows students to move easily from one level of study to the next, and from one institution to another. It allows for choice and flexibility in career planning. All qualifications in the AQF help prepare prepare students for both further study and your working life.


Visit the Department for Education SA website for Education Acts, Regulations and other legislation.

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      Page last updated 7 November 2023

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