Education Enrolments

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

The VET system provides a skilled workforce with nationally recognised qualifications and knowledge-based competencies. Students can enrol in qualifications (with around 1,800 on offer), accredited courses, industry-recognised skill sets and units of competency, allowing them to gain the specific skills they need, when they need them. Training takes place in classrooms, workplaces and online, and can be full-time or part-time.

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Graphic. 2.6 million vet program enrolments in 2020. Certificate I – 112,500. Certificate II – 476,500. Certificate III – 945,500. Certificate IV – 459,300. Diploma or higher – 419,100. Due to rounding, numbers may not sum to total.

In 2020, most VET program course enrolments were in the Management and Commerce and Society and Culture fields of education.

There were 3.9 million VET students in 2020, and around half of these students (1.9 million) were not enrolled in a full course. This study (officially referred to as nationally accredited stand-alone subjects) includes training that is critical to supporting employers and the Australian economy. Examples include enabling employers to meet workplace and public health and safety requirements, such as “construction white cards” for building sites, responsible service of alcohol and first-aid certifications.

Higher Education

Universities offer courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including associate degrees, bachelor degrees, masters and PhD qualifications. The vast majority of students study at the bachelor degree level (79% in 2018). Higher education usually involves a commitment to at least three years of full-time equivalent study to attain a bachelor degree, but many courses involve longer periods of education.

There were 1.09 million domestic students enrolled in higher education in 2019 (up by 34% over the past decade).

What subject areas are available?

The higher education sector provides training in all fields of education, but the largest numbers of enrolments are in Society and culture (289,100 enrolments in 2019), which is a diverse field of education including studies in law, psychology, human welfare and society, language and linguistics, economics and sport and recreation.

Further information on higher education enrolments can be found at dese.gov.au/higher-education-statistics.

  2019 enrolments ('000) 10 year change (↑↓%)
Society and Culture 289.1 32.2%
Health 223.3 72.7%
Management and Commerce 183.2 10.3%
Education 115.2 20.2%
Natural and Physical Sciences 104.8 54.3%
Creative Arts 77.3 18.9%
Engineering and Related Technologies 66 21.5%
Information Technology 41.5 75.0%
Architecture and Building 28.6 34.6%
Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies 14.5 ↓  -4.1%
All fields of education 1086.1 ↑ 33.5%

Total includes some mixed field and non-award courses.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are a form of skills development that combine paid on-the-job work with training. They provide a nationally recognised VET qualification as well as relevant work experience.

Reflecting how highly workplace experience is valued by employers, apprentices and trainees generally have strong graduate employment outcomes.

There were 297,920 apprentices and trainees in training in December 2020, working across more than 500 different occupations, including many non-trade occupations.

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Occupations in which apprentices and trainees most commonly work. 64% of apprentices and trainees are technicians and trades workers, most commonly as electricians, carpenters and joiners, motor mechanics, plumbers and sheetmetal trades workers. 11% of apprentices and trainees are community and personal service workers, most commonly child carers, hospitality workers, nursing support and personal care workers, welfare support workers and dental assistants. 6% of apprentices and trainees are machinery operat

Sources: NCVER, Total VET Students and Courses; NCVER, Apprentices and Trainees; Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Higher Education Statistics; Universities Australia, 2020 Higher Education Facts and Figures.