What is TAFE?

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes are government-funded Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). They offer practically oriented Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses that are designed to give students the appropriate skills, training and qualifications they need for the workforce. For more information, visit the Vocational Education and Training section. VET courses are also offered by private RTOs (typically known as private colleges), but many students choose to study VET courses through TAFE institutes because they provide additional security as government-funded education providers. The TAFE sector is the largest education and training sector in Australia. Each year thousands of international students come to Australia to take advantage of the extensive range of courses and subject areas that provide practical skills and vocational training for a huge variety of careers.

What TAFE offers

TAFE institutes in Australia are government owned and have a long history of helping international students reach their career goals. International students attend TAFE institutes to complete courses that range from certificate to postgraduate level.

TAFE also offers English language courses, which range in length from around four to 48 weeks.

International students commonly choose to enrol in TAFE courses in Australia to:

  • improve their chances of being accepted into university study.
  • gain practical, work-based skills to improve their employment prospects.
  • take advantage of the wide variety of courses on offer.
  • enjoy the individual attention that the typically small class sizes allow.
  • enjoy the advantages of life in Australia.

How does TAFE differ to university?

  • Practical courses: While university courses tend to have an academic focus, TAFE courses are typically more hands-on, and are focused on providing students with the workplace skills and training needed by industry employers. TAFE facilities compliment the practical focus, providing students with industry-standard equipment that allows them to train outside the classroom, such as automotive workshops and training restaurants that are open to the public. TAFE courses are designed with industry needs in mind, so you can be assured that you are learning the skills that employers need. Many TAFE courses offer opportunities to complete on-the-job training through work experience.

  • Wide range of courses: Traditionally, TAFE is known for providing VET courses (such as certificates and diplomas), which are vocationally oriented qualifications. VET courses differ from university degrees because of their practical focus, shorter completion time and lower cost. However, VET courses offer a lower qualification level than a degree, so be sure to check what level of qualification is typically required in your intended occupation. Some TAFE institutes also offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees (the same as those offered by universities), as well as English language courses and secondary school studies.

  • Accessibility: TAFE institutes pride themselves on their accessibility and typically have fewer (and lower) entry requirements than universities. While universities require students to gain a particular score and have completed certain prerequisite subjects, TAFE institutes generally only require students to have completed a level of education equivalent to Australian Year 10, 11 or 12 and have the appropriate level of English language competency. Because TAFE is more accessible to students, many choose to study at TAFE as a pathway to gain entry into university.

Courses and qualifications

The types of qualifications that can be obtained through the TAFE system include:

  • Certificate IIV courses are designed to provide introductory skills and training. They provide industry-specific knowledge, and skills in communication, participation, literacy and numeracy, and teamwork. They vary in length from a few weeks to six or more months.
  • Diploma courses prepares students for industry, enterprise and para-professional careers. Some diploma courses can be completed at university level as well as at TAFE institutions. Diplomas require 18 to 24 months of full-time study.
  • Advanced diploma courses provide a high level of practical skills for employment in a specific career area, such as accounting, building design, or engineering. Some advanced diploma courses can also be completed at university level. Advanced diplomas vary in length from 24 to 36 months.
  • Vocational graduate certificate/diplomas are the equivalent of the higher education graduate certificate or diploma. They provide high level employment-related skills and knowledge. The graduate certificate usually requires six months of full-time study and the graduate diploma usually requires one year of full-time study.

Pathways to university

TAFE provides both international and domestic students with a number of education pathways to university (higher education). In addition to providing assistance with entrance requirements, TAFE courses can also be counted for credit towards some Australian university courses. For example, students who graduate with a diploma from a TAFE college may receive up to two or three semesters of credit towards a related university degree.

The exact amount of credit granted towards a degree depends on the university, the degree course and the TAFE qualification completed. It is important to check with the intended university to be certain about possible credit transfers. You can use the Institution Search at the top of the page to search for and contact individual universities for specific information.

Pathways to the workforce

A TAFE qualification can also improve your prospects in the job market. Due to the practical emphasis of most courses in this sector, a TAFE qualification can be a valuable addition to the resume.

Average tuition costs

AUD$5500$18,000 a year

Please note that course fees can vary widely depending on the course, institute and location chosen and should always be sourced from the relevant TAFE institute.

General entry requirements

Entry into the TAFE system usually requires students to have reached a level of study equivalent to the Australian Year 10, 11 or 12. Some courses may have prerequisite subjects or work experience requirements. Entry into some courses, such as art and design courses, may also require submission of a portfolio. Students should check with individual colleges for any additional entry requirements, English language requirements, information on fees and charges, and course commencement dates.