Vocational Education

Technical & Further Education (TAFE)

Advantages of the TAFE system for international students

With the huge and ever growing number of education providers in Australia, choosing which type of institution to study with can be daunting. However, if you are looking for clear pathways into the workforce or higher education there are many advantages to be found in studying through The Australian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system.

TAFE is a government-owned and nationally operated system of colleges offering qualifications that are recognized and transferable internationally.  The focus in TAFE is on hands-on, practical training with key competencies worked into every course that are thought to be essential for people entering the workforce.  Courses are developed in consultation with business and industry to ensure the skills are relevant and in demand.

Studying at TAFE also provides a pathway to university education where Diploma graduates can receive up to one or two year's credit towards a related university degree, through a system of credit transfer arrangements established with universities across Australia.

To ensure that students get the most out of their study experience TAFE colleges also offer a broad range of student support services.  From orientation and activity programs to assistance with housing and counseling, TAFE colleges aim to offer a secure and supportive environment to all students.

More than 60 TAFE institutes deliver VET training across Australia. They are government funded, they provide post-school education and training, and they usually have a more practical focus than university courses.

TAFE Institiutes

TAFE colleges act independently of one another and have their own premises, courses, and academic and administrative staff. 

TAFEs can be very large institutions and have more students enrolled than many Universities. For example, most city-based TAFEs have over 50,000 enrolments.  The facilities available to students are similar to those in a University. Also, they operate across a number of campuses as well as in industry and community venues.

TAFE institutes contain some of the largest ELICOS centers in Australia. They are also sometimes part of a University. For example every university in Victoria except one has a TAFE division.

TAFE courses are often used by international students as a pathway to undergraduate programs at university, especially via the Diploma route. Some TAFEs offer university degrees through affiliated Universities, and some offer their own degrees.

Pathways to Higher Education

A major strength of the TAFE system is that it provides an alternative pathway to higher education or more specialized vocational training.

AQF qualifications link with each other in a range of learning pathways between schools, VET providers and universities. This encourages cross-sectoral linkage programs such as:

  • TAFE in Schools
    - this allows schools to offer industry based units of learning than can contribute to both the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education and Certificate I - IV qualifications;
  • Articulation and Credit Transfer Arrangements between registered VET providers and universities
    - this involves the efficient articulation of programs and maximum credit transfer;
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
    - credits are granted towards qualifications through assessment of an individual’s knowledge and skills gained through education, training, work and life experience.