Highest level of education

Completion of Year 12

Around 1 in 3 (32%) people with disability aged 20 and over, and 1 in 4 (25%) with severe or profound disability have completed Year 12 or equivalent (ABS 2016 and AIHW 2017). This was much lower than the 2 in 3 (62%) people without disability in this age range.

While the completion of Year 12 for those with and without disability has increased in the last decade, this increase was not as pronounced for people with disability.

Whether a person has completed Year 12 varies by age, with those in the older age ranges less likely to have done so. Among people aged:

  • 20–24, 64% of people with disability had completed Year 12 or equivalent, compared with 81% of people without disability
  • 50–54, 31% compared with 51%
  • 85 and over, 15% compared with 16%.

These figures reflect changing patterns of education in Australian society where completion of Year 12 is becoming increasingly common.

Highest level of education attained

In the last decade, the highest level of educational attainment for people with disability has improved, but is still generally lower than for people without disability. For example, the highest level of educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree or higher for:

  • 15% of people with disability aged 20 and over
  • 9% of those with severe or profound disability in the same age range.

This compared with 31% of people without disability.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016. Microdata: disability, ageing and carers, Australia, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0.30.002. Canberra: ABS. AIHW analysis of TableBuilder.

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2017. Disability in Australia: changes over time in inclusion and participation in education. Cat. no. DIS 69. Canberra: AIHW. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/disability-australia-changes-over-time-factsheets/fact-sheets

DET (Department of Education and Training) 2018. Selected Higher Education Statistics—2017 Student data. https://www.education.gov.au/selected-higher-education-statistics-2017-student-data

NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2018. Total VET students and courses 2017: data slicer https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/data/all-data/vet-student-outcomes-2018-data-slicer