An academic term is a division of an aca-
demic year, the time during which a school,
college or university holds classes. These di-
visions may be called ’terms’, ’semesters’,
’quarters’, or ’trimesters’, depending on the
institution and the country.
In most northern hemisphere countries an
academic year begins with the start of au-
tumn and ends the following summer.
Australia and New
In most of Australia and New Zealand, the
school year lasts from late January to early
December, and is split into four terms.
• Starts late January or early February
(usually 7 February in New Zealand) and
ends 1 or 2 weeks before Easter
• Starts 1 or 2 weeks after Easter and ends
in late June.
• Starts mid July and ends mid September.
• Starts early October and ends mid
The exact dates vary from year to year, as
well as between states, and for public and
private school. In Tasmania, the school year
is split in to three terms, the first one being
the longest and including an extended Easter
holiday. The following is a link with details on
Australian term dates for 2008.
In New Zealand, the law requires schools
to be open a minimum of 380 half-days for
secondary schools and 394 half-days (384
half-days from 2008) for primary and inter-
Australian universities have two semesters
a year, between February and November.
Many universities offer an optional short
summer semester. One recent innovation in
Australian higher education has been the es-
tablishment of the fully distance / online
Open Universities Australia (formerly Open
Learning Australia) that offers continuous
study opportunities of individual units of
study (what are called courses in North
America) that can lead to full degree qualific-
ations. Open Universities Australia operates
4 13-week study periods each year. Since
students study only part-time and offcampus
these study periods mesh reasonably easily
with existing university offerings based on
The Austrian school year for primary and sec-