What Is TAFE (Technical & Further Education) in Australia?

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Students want to know what TAFE (Technical and Further Education) is in Australia.


Are you searching for a practical course in Australia that opens the door to higher education or a career in a specific field? If so, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) is the ideal choice.


This blog will provide insights into TAFE, covering details about colleges, courses, study areas, entry requirements, and more.



1. What Is TAFE in Australia?


TAFE, or Technical and Further Education, represents vocational programs within Australia's national training system (VET) under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF). These courses cover a broad spectrum, from construction and engineering to arts and winemaking.


State and territory governments oversee and fund TAFE institutes, offering diploma and certificate qualifications, with recent expansions into postgraduate diplomas and bachelor's degrees in specific fields. 


As a gateway, TAFE allows students to earn credits for university bachelor's degrees, and credits can often be transferred to full-degree programs. TAFE institutions typically focus on specialized fields or related subjects.



2. TAFE Institutes In Australia


TAFE is key in Australia's education and training sector, with approximately 59 institutes nationwide across diverse regional and metropolitan areas.


Designed to equip students with essential training, skills, and qualifications for seamless entry into the workforce, TAFE courses play a vital role in shaping career paths.


Each TAFE institute is regulated by the respective state or territory government, leading to variations in fees and policies. You can explore the TAFE website specific to your territory or state for detailed information. Below are some famous TAFE institutes in Australia:




3. TAFE Study Areas


Technical and further education institutions offer courses in various subject areas, including the following:




4. TAFE Study Levels


TAFE offers different levels of courses to match what you want to learn and do in your career.


Here's a breakdown of the common TAFE qualifications:


  • Certificate I: It covers basic tasks and skills.

  • Certificate II: You learn practical knowledge for everyday work in specific areas.

  • Certificate III: This level helps you develop higher skills and understand different problems.

  • Certificate IV: You gain a broad knowledge base and learn to analyse information in various areas. It usually takes one to two years.

  • Diploma: This level gives you creative or technical skills, preparing you for certain jobs. It can also earn you university credits and takes up to two years.

  • Advanced Diploma: It's an advanced level that teaches expert skills and could lead to managerial roles. It may take 1.5 to 2 years.

  • Graduate Certificate: This helps you get advanced skills related to work. You usually need a diploma, some industry experience, and expertise.



TAFE Course Structure


Unlike universities, TAFE students learn the same things no matter which TAFE institute they go to.


This happens because Vocational Education and Training (VET) follows a plan called a training package. It's like a guide that lists what skills students need for each level. This way, everyone gets the same skills that the industry wants.


These training packages cover hospitality, information technology, community services, business, financial services, retail, engineering, the metal industry, and more. The qualifications range from Certificate I to advanced diplomas/certificates, each covering various subjects.


To finish their training, TAFE students must show they've learned the skills through tests.


On the other hand, university degrees don't have these training packages. So, what students learn can be different from one university to another.


TAFE students also do two types of training: one at the institute and another while working for an employer to get their qualifications.



6. TAFE Tuition Fees


TAFE tuition fees can vary based on the TAFE school, the course, and the campus you pick.


Certain courses get funding from the government, while others require full fees. Some students who qualify may also get exemptions or discounts.


Those doing advanced diploma courses can delay paying their fees until they start earning a certain amount. TAFE students can also apply for scholarships. If someone is doing higher education courses, they can use FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP for financial support.



7. TAFE Entry Requirements


As compared to universities, TAFE institutes have fewer entry requirements. Entry requirements for VET courses range from very little or no entry requirements (certificate I) to Australian year 12 or equivalent (certificate IV, diploma and advanced diploma).


Your work experience might count as well. Some courses require students to give interviews, auditions, and tests and provide portfolios before entry. Always remember that higher education degrees at TAFE institutes may have higher admission requirements than universities.



8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How Long is TAFE in Australia?


Here are the types of qualifications offered at TAFE, along with the estimated duration:


  • Certificate I-IV: These are six months to two years long courses that provide students with introductory skills, training, and industry-relevant knowledge.


  • Diploma: These courses require one to two years of full-time study and prepare students for paraprofessional, industry, and enterprise careers.


  • Advanced Diploma: These courses range between 1.5 to two years of full-time study and provide advanced-level hands-on skills for paraprofessional work in accounting, building design, and engineering.


  • Vocational Graduate Certificate/Diploma: A graduate certificate usually takes six months to a year of full-time study, whereas the graduate diploma requires one to two years of full-time study. Both courses provide high-level employment-related knowledge and skills to students.


  • Other Courses: Besides vocational education, TAFE offers higher education programs like undergraduate and English language courses.



Does Centrelink Pay For TAFE?


Most TAFE institutions, including South West TAFE, offer payment plans wherein students can pay their tuition fee via Centrelink.


Students who receive a financial benefit from Centrelink may have the choice to pay their tuition fee, general service, and course consumable fees through Centrelink benefit through Centrepay.


TAFE Queensland also offers fee concessions to students enrolled in government-funded courses or subjects. To avail of fee concessions, they need a valid Health Care Card or Pension Concession Card issued by Centrelink.


TAFE South Australia offers a Standard Payment Plan option to students who undertake a government-funded vocational course whose fee is more than $250 and receive payment from Centrelink. Such students can pay their course fees through Centrepay. For more details, click here.



Can TAFE Get You A Good Job?


Yes. TAFE qualifications serve as an excellent pathway into the workforce. They focus mainly on industry-based, practical skills; they greatly enhance employment prospects.


TAFE qualifications are ideal for those training to enter the workforce, re-enter the workforce with a new job, or upgrade their skills. They are as valuable as university degree programs in terms of future employment.


According to TAFE Courses:


  • VET students have a 10% higher employment rate than university graduates

  • VET graduates get a 106% increase in higher average salary than university students

  • 90% of the highest growth jobs in the next five years in Australia need a VET qualification, as opposed to a university degree. 

  • TAFE is also ahead in terms of graduate employment. 78% of TAFE graduates get a job in the six months after their course, compared to just 68% of university students. 

  • Students completing a TAFE traineeship/apprenticeship have a graduate employment rate of up to 92%.

  • In terms of graduate salary, the average salary for university students is $54,000 per year, and $56,000 for VET students earn. Thus, TAFE students with a VET qualification make approx—$ 2,000 annually more than University graduates.



Should You Go To TAFE or Uni?


Earlier, universities were the only medium to complete a degree program, and TAFE only offered a diploma or certificate qualification.


However, you can complete bachelor's and associate degrees for certain professions via TAFE.


Here are the key things to consider when choosing between university and TAFE:



  • The Type of Job You Want To Pursue: Research the course structures to find whether TAFE or a university is suitable. For example, a TAFE course is ideal for becoming a plumber. At the same time, a university degree is appropriate to become a doctor. However, both TAFE and university are suitable for studying accounting.


  • Preferred Learning Approach: Are you a hands-on learner and prefer a practical approach to learning things? A TAFE course may be ideal. University courses are mostly theory-based.


  • Entry Requirements: You will usually need the required ATAR to gain admission into university programs. In contrast to university courses, TAFE has fewer entry requirements.


  • Cost: TAFE courses are much cheaper than university-led programs, where the average fee for a Bachelor's Degree in Australia is approx—$ 30,000. In contrast, TAFE courses range between $400 and $22,000 annually.


  • Learning Environment: If you are a self-motivated student and prefer learning online, then TAFE courses are for you. However, if you learn better when supported, you should choose the university route.


  • Study Duration: It is another major factor when deciding between pursuing a TAFE or a university course. TAFE courses are comparatively shorter than degree programs and help you join the workforce fast. However, university courses require at least 3-4 years of study commitment. You need to decide how long your course is and if you can stick it out. It will help you make the right decision.



Can You Drop Out of TAFE?


Yes. Students can cancel or withdraw from a TAFE course. However, they must notify about the discontinuation of studies by submitting a completed Withdrawal Application Form to their enrolment campus.


Students enrolled in a Government Subsidised course like Smart and Skilled may defer their studies instead of withdrawing. To do this, they must submit the Deferral Application Form to their enrolment campus.


It is worth noting that students can defer their subsidised training for up to a year during the course duration and support their request with a medical certificate. They can resume their studies within a year, and their Smart and Skilled student fee/ Concession fee will stay unchanged.


If they don't resume their study within this period, their student record will update as 'withdrawn/discontinued' your study.


TAFE NSW periodically reviews the student's progress throughout the study. Students who do not showcase participation and attendance in their studies may be deferred or withdrawn from their studies.



What Happens if You Don't Finish a TAFE Course?


If you discontinue your studies in an enrolled qualification before it completes or has yet to resume studies after deferring them, you must submit a Withdrawal or Deferral form to the enrolment campus to inform.


Fee-refund is subject to conditions; you must contact your training provider.


After withdrawing from a course, if you wish to resume your studies in the future, you will have to undergo reassessment again against the Smart and Skilled eligibility and entitlement criteria at that time.


It will determine your access to a subsidised student fee, fee exemption, or fee-for-service course fee.



What Is The Difference Between University and TAFE?


Universities and TAFE are both educational institutions, but they vary based on the teaching and learning methods employed and the types of courses offered.


TAFE courses differ from university programs in the following ways:



  • The study length is another difference between both types of study programs. Undergraduate-level university studies take around three or four years, while TAFE courses can take between one and three years.


  • TAFE courses are more hands-on and focus on providing students with workplace training and skills needed by employers. However, university courses have an academic focus.


  • TAFE facilities provide students with industry-standard equipment and training in public spaces, such as training restaurants and automotive workshops. These courses offer opportunities to complete on-the-job training through work experience.


  • Due to the practical learning component, TAFE education and training are most suited for trade courses such as electricians, hairdressers, etc. In contrast, university-level higher education is ideal for professional careers like medicine and law.



  • TAFE courses have fewer entry requirements than university courses that require ATAR for admission purposes. Due to this, TAFE is more accessible to students, and most choose to study at TAFE to gain entry into university.


  • The low cost of TAFE courses is another reason that attracts students to study at TAFE. Due to government-subsidised courses, TAFE education is comparatively cheaper than university-led programs. Some TAFE institutions also offer free courses to eligible students in high-priority areas. 



How Much Do TAFE Courses Cost?


At TAFE, you need to pay two types of student fees tuition fees and service fees:


  • Tuition Fees: The training provider charges this for education and training. It depends on various factors such as course length and study mode, i.e., online, full-time, or part-time.


  • Service Fees: They are charged for additional materials and services that a student receives. It includes clothing, workshop materials, workbooks, uniforms, course-specific tools, etc. 


The TAFE course fee varies widely based on the institution, course, and chosen location. 


Usually certificate and diploma courses typically cost between AU$ 9,000 and AU$ 15,000 per academic year. Bachelor's degrees and higher-level vocational courses, such as vocational graduate diplomas and certificates, may have higher fees. 


Useful Topics to Explore:

⇒ Types of Education in Australia
⇒ Applying to Study in Australia: Student Timeline
⇒ Enligsh Language Courses Overview (ELICOS)
⇒ MBA and Management Education in Australia 
⇒ Vocational Education & Training Courses (VET)
⇒ Higher Education - Undergraduate Level
⇒ Higher Education - Postgraduate Level
⇒ Study Abroad & Student Exchange
⇒ Online & Distance Education
⇒ Foundation Courses
⇒ Secondary Education

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