Vocational education
A vocational education comes with many rewards, including valuable, job-specific skills. Source: Ina Fassbender/AFP

Australia has a strong reputation worldwide for their high-quality universities and colleges. Lesser-known to many, however, is its many offerings of vocational education. Vocational education can provide students with a pathway to enter the workforce or progress to higher education institutions. 

One way of earning a vocational education in Australia is through TAFE institutions, which offer nationally-recognised courses to prepare students for the workplace. What is it, and how do international students stand to benefit from TAFE courses? Here’s what you should know:

What is it?

TAFE, which stands for​ Technical and Further Education, is a form of vocational education and training (VET) education offered by government-run institutions in Australia. Their courses are highly diverse — you can find programmes ranging from business to agriculture, and from building design to tourism and hospitality — in addition to being typically more hands-on in nature.

TAFE institutes usually have fewer entry requirements than universities, making them highly accessible to students. Both international and domestic students can attend TAFE institutes to complete courses that range from certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas to postgraduate-level courses. 

Why should I pursue TAFE?

TAFE courses are short, affordable and have flexible study options. Offered by government-owned education providers, this provides students some comfort and security over the quality of their qualifications. 

TAFE courses are also highly popular among international students, thanks to its extensive range of courses and subject areas that provide practical skills and vocational training for a huge variety of careers, notes Studies in Australia. By enrolling and successfully completing a TAFE course, you can expect to improve your chances of being accepted into higher education courses, improve your employment prospects thanks to the practical skills gained, in addition to enjoying more individualised attention through small classes.

How much does it cost?

Vocational education

The cost of pursuing vocational courses in Australia varies between institutions and locations. Source: Torsten Blackwood/AFP

Fees for TAFE courses vary depending on the programme, institution and location. For a rough idea, the fees per semester for TAFE International Western Australia range from over 6,000 to 8,000 Australian dollars. The total cost of a diploma programme at TAFE Queensland can range from over AU$12,000 to AU$20,000. Interested students should check with their relevant providers for more information.

What are the entry requirements?

You’ll typically need to have qualifications that are equivalent to the Australian Year 10, 11 or 12 level. It’s worth noting that each course may have different prerequisites or work experience needed, while some courses, such as art and design, may also require a portfolio. Always check with individual providers for the entry requirements, including the language requirements.

Am I right for TAFE?

Are you looking for a pathway into the higher education sector? Then TAFE might be right for you. They offer Certificates I–IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas that can pave the way for you to meet entry requirements and even credit towards some higher education courses. 

Studies in Australia notes the following, however: “The exact amount of credit granted depends on the institution, the degree and the TAFE qualification completed. It is important to check pathways and credit arrangements with institutions.” They add that it’s becoming increasingly common for higher education graduates to complete TAFE qualifications in order to gain practical, work-oriented skills to assist them to enter the workforce.

Where are TAFE institutes located?

All over Australia! Some of the popular TAFE locations include Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and the Northern Territory. Click here for a list of TAFE institutes.

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

TAFE NSW holds the key to your future career. Here’s why

TAFE NSW: Be job-ready with practical skills and work experience