Education and training: Census

Latest release

Information on qualifications, educational attendance and type of educational institution.

Reference period
Next release Unknown
First release

Key statistics

Educational attendance

  • 484,185 people were attending preschool. 
  • 2,075,224 people were attending primary school. 
  • 1,629,624 people were attending secondary school. 
  • 1,185,450 people were attending university or other higher education. 
  • 601,901 people were attending vocational education (including TAFE and private training providers).


  • Over 11 million (11,511,655) people in Australia reported having a non-school (vocational or tertiary) qualification, a 19.8 per cent increase since 2016.
  • 5.5 million people (5,464,631) reported having a bachelor degree or higher, a 30.7 per cent increase since 2016.
  • 4 million people (3,962,732) reported having certificate I to IV, a 10.6 per cent increase since 2016.
  • The most common field of study for non-school qualifications was Business and Management (1,144,084 people), followed by Teacher Education (836,410), and Nursing (608,276).
  • The fastest growing qualifications were Security Science, now 5,805 people qualified (up 460 per cent since 2016), followed by Artificial Intelligence, now 630 people (up 204 per cent), and Southern Asian Languages, now 670 people (up 123 per cent).
  1. Based on place of usual residence. Count of persons attending an education institution. Excludes overseas visitors.
  2. Primary school includes persons attending Government, Catholic, Other non-government, or not further defined primary schools.
  3. Secondary school includes persons attending Government, Catholic, Other non-government, or not further defined secondary schools.
  4. Includes TAFE and private training providers.

Source: Type of education institution attending (TYPP), Sex (SEXP)

Census data stories and concepts

Articles and information papers that related to this topic include:

How Census data is used

Learn how Census data helps community groups, businesses and governments make important decisions.

Educationally disadvantaged students get the chance to study at Curtin University with help from Census data

Thousands of educationally disadvantaged students are now getting a chance at tertiary education, thanks to a specialised ranking system created for a Curtin University enabling program that’s based on Census data.

Curtin University’s UniReady Enabling Program offers another pathway for students who want to go to university but didn’t get the required marks.

The program is bursting with applicants wanting to get their foot in the door to attend university, and with limited places available, applicants are assessed on an equity and needs basis.

While UniReady staff would love to give all applicants a chance, they wanted to prioritise people who may have had limited opportunities.

“We considered a first-in, best-dressed system but realised not everyone has access to online systems or vital application information at the same time.

“We needed to find a more equitable way.”

That’s when the UniReady team came up with the idea of looking at the factors that contribute to educational disadvantage with help from Census data.

Census data coupled with applicant information like location, previous education, family circumstances, migrant or refugee background, internet access and rural or remote living helped the team assess their educational situation.

“With the help of Census data, we now have a more holistic approach to rank students based on their educational situation.

“We can see who may not have been given equal opportunities in the past and give them the best possible chance to pursue a degree.

“We see so many people who want to come to university but can’t see how it’s possible because of circumstances beyond their control or don’t have families that can support them.

“We’re now able to tell students we take that into account when assigning places. That really helps build aspiration and help people feel more confident about their situation.”

See more Census stories.

Key questions in 2021 Census

  • Is the person attending a school or other education institution?
  • What type of education institution is the person attending?
  • What is the highest year of primary or secondary school the person has completed? 
  • Has the person completed any educational qualification?
  • What is the level of the highest qualification the person has completed?
  • What is the main field of study for the person’s highest qualification completed?
  • Did the person complete this qualification before 1998?

The questions from the 2021 Census are output into variables. To see descriptions of the variables, including data use considerations, relevant to this topic see the 2021 Census dictionary: Education and training.

Data downloads

Data table for Education and training data summary

Other ABS links

To access more 2021 Census data, see Search Census data or to build your own data sets, see Census data tools.

Explore other ABS data: 

Post release changes

14/10/2022 - Education and training data summary download, Table 2. Highest year of schooling, completed and current, by age by sex, 2021: Labelling error corrected on total rows.

12/10/2022 - Key statistics updated with information on level of highest educational attainment and qualifications. Education and training data summary download file amended to include second release data tables. 


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