Key Facts

In Australia in 2022: 

  • the proportion of the Year 12 population that met the requirements of a Senior Secondary Certificate or equivalent was 76.3% - a return to 2020 levels after increasing to 79.1% in 2021.

  • Year 12 certification rates still show gaps by location. They were higher in major cities (79.4%) than in inner regional areas (67.6%), outer regional areas (69.2%) and remote/very remote areas (55.5%).

  • Year 12 Certification rates were higher for the population living in high socio-economic status areas (82.9%), than those in medium and low socio-economic status areas (75.2% and 69.7% respectively).

  • Over the period from 2012 to 2022:

  • Year 12 certification rates increased by 3.3 percentage points. 

  • There was a reduction in the gender gap and remote area gap for Year 12 certifications, but the gap between Year 12 certification rates in high and low socio-economic status areas has widened.  

Notes and caveats

    • This indicator should be interpreted with caution as:
      • assessment, reporting and criteria for obtaining a year 12 or equivalent certificate varies across jurisdictions;
      • students completing their secondary education in Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes are included in reporting for some jurisdictions and not others.
    • Certification rates are estimated by calculating the number of students who meet the requirements of a Senior Secondary Certificate or equivalent expressed as a percentage of the potential Year 12 population.
    • The potential Year 12 population is an estimate of a single year age group which could have attended Year 12 that year, calculated as the estimated resident population (ERP) aged 15 to 19 divided by five.
    • The ABS Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage has been used to calculate socio-economic status (SES) on the basis of postcode of students' home addresses.
    • Low SES is the average of the lowest three deciles, medium SES is the average of the middle four deciles and high SES is the average of the top three deciles.
    • The aggregation of all postcode locations into three SES categories – high, medium and low – means that there may be significant variation within the categories – the low category, for example, will include locations ranging from those of extreme disadvantage to those of moderate disadvantage.
    •  Variations from previous years have largely been caused by changes to socio-educational and population factors. This, combined with an incomplete concordance of postcode to Statistical Area 2 (SA2), means the data may also not accurately reflect the actual population base.
    • In 2013, the ABS conducted a one-off exercise to revise (recast) population estimates back to 1991. Certification rates in NSW remote areas have increased from previous years due to the improved statistical methodology. For more information, refer to the 20 June 2013 release of Australian Demographic Statistics, Feature Article 2: Recasting 20 years of ERP.
    • From 2009 to 2013, geolocation is reported as the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) remoteness classification. From 2014, geolocation is reported as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Remoteness Area.
    • Certification rates from 2017 have been calculated using ERP based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. Rates for 2016 and prior are calculated using ERP based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.
    • Jurisdiction caveats:
      • Australian Capital Territory metropolitan/major city areas includes provincial/inner regional areas.
      • There are no Tasmanian major city areas, Northern Territory major city/metropolitan/inner regional areas or Australian Capital Territory outer regional/remote/very remote areas.
      • Victoria remote/very remote areas and South Australia outer regional/remote/very remote areas data are not available.
      • The populations in the Low SES deciles of the Australian Capital Territory are too small to give meaningful results.
      • In 2019 Queensland had a “half cohort” complete year 12. This was due to the introduction of pre-year 1 in 2007 where students must have turned 5 by June 30. This effectively halved the cohort for that year only. This has flowed through to completions in 2019. This also affects the Year 12 certification rate for Australia in 2019.
      • In 2017, to better reflect completion rates, Queensland updated its counting rules to include all students receiving the Queensland Certificate of Education. This constitutes a break in series for these data.
      • In 2014, Western Australia had a “half cohort” complete year 12 making the year 12 certifications for this year significantly lower. The half cohort resulted from a change to the pre-year one entry age in 2002 leading to approximately half the normal intake of students for that year level. For this reason, WA data for 2014 should not be compared with other years or with other jurisdictions in 2014. This also affects the Year 12 certification rate for Australia in 2014.
      • Data for Victoria from 2011 include students completing the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) at the intermediate or senior levels. Data in previous years excluded Year 12 students completing VCAL. This forms part of the increase in certification rates since 2011.
      • In 2011 the SACE Board of South Australia introduced a new qualification listing, replacing the HESS General subjects with 'Tertiary Admissions Subjects' (TAS). Data included students at SA contact schools completing the SACE requirements and students receiving a Record of Achievement for completion of at least one full year (20 credit) Stage 2 SACE subject. Both NT and SA showed an increase in completions due to this. This has added to the increase in certification rates since 2011.

Sources: Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment, derived from data supplied by state and territory curriculum, assessment and certification authorities; ABS, National, state and territory population.

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