Education and skills

Education and skills in NSW

NSW has very high standards of primary, secondary and tertiary education, producing highly skilled graduates to boost the state's strong workforce.

As the country's services sector grows, more work is becoming available in the knowledge-intensive professional, technical and financial services industries. In 2010, 45 per cent of Australian tertiary students graduated with social science, business and law degrees.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the scientific literacy of a country's students determines that country's performance in advanced technology industries. Almost 9 per cent of Australia's tertiary graduates have science degrees, outperforming the United States (8.5 per cent), South Korea (7.3 per cent) and Indonesia (6 per cent).

Post-school qualifications

NSW boasts more people between 15 and 64 years with a post-school qualification than any other Australian state or territory. Almost 2.9 million people (58 per cent of all working-age residents) have non-school qualifications.

Post-school qualifications are available from world-class universities, government-owned Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and private higher education providers. Qualifications include undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as vocational qualifications such as diplomas and certificates I to IV.

Of the state's 11 universities, two are ranked in the world's top 200 in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013–14: the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.

The University of Sydney is also in the world's top 100 academic institutions as ranked by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Higher education

About 356,000 domestic and international students enrolled in NSW's higher education institutions in 2012. The most popular courses were in the management and commerce field, with more than 93,000 students enrolled in courses such as accounting, banking and finance, management and marketing. The number of students completing university in NSW (as a proportion of all graduate-aged people in the state) is the third highest in the world.

The next most popular courses were economics, law and languages, with almost 92,000 students enrolled in 2012.

Secondary education

Secondary education, from Years 7 to 12, produces students who consistently perform above the national average in literacy and numeracy tests.

According to the OECD, NSW's schools are among the world's best due to their fair and equal access and well-prepared students.

Primary education

NSW's primary education system, from Kindergarten to Year 6, produces the country's best students in national reading tests, as well as results above the national average in numeracy. Pupils' instruction times are among the highest across OECD countries.