One of the great things about Australia’s education system is the way in which it makes higher education accessible to all citizens. TAFE is designed to bridge the gap between school and university, providing important theory and practical experience in several fields of study for students of all ages. They can also be used as a pathway to undergraduate degrees. All of the courses conform to a predetermined national standard to ensure consistency in the quality of the education, as well as consistency in the material covered.
Each region in Australia has its own TAFE institutes, which we will explore in more detail.
Most popular TAFE Courses
- Diploma of Counselling
- Certificate III in Education Support (Teacher’s Aide)
- Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
- Certificate IV in Beauty Therapy
Table of Contents
What is TAFE?
TAFE is Australia’s way of ensuring that its citizens have the knowledge and the skills needed to thrive in the workplace. It helps to address the country’s skills shortages in essential fields by allowing students to progress step-by-step, at their own pace through the different levels of qualifications available. In this way, people are able to reach their full potential and help drive Australia’s economy forward.
TAFE stands for Technical and Further Education. Its approach to education is comprehensive in that it combines essential, industry-relevant practical skills with essential, industry-relevant theory. The result is students with well-rounded knowledge of their chosen field.
TAFE, VET & AQF
TAFE and VET overlap in many ways, but there are some differences between them.
Traditionally, VET (Vocational Education and Training) concentrates on a specific vocation. The education and training provided are narrowly focused on a particular job within a field, and not on the broader field itself. The courses are primarily practical and non-academic. VET courses are often geared towards school-leavers who are going to enter a specific trade; for example, plumbing or bricklaying. However, VET courses in Australia are starting to broaden, providing students with a more holistic education.
While TAFE (Technical and Further Education) courses have a strong practical element, they also have an academic focus. This provides a more comprehensive view of the field, and not just the specific trade. The qualifications are graded, so Certificate I courses are suitable for those who may not have completed high school. They may then work up the ladder to Advanced Diploma level, which allows them to enter university and complete undergraduate degrees.
AQF stands for Australian Qualifications Framework; it regulates the training and education sector, which includes school, VET, and TAFE qualifications, as well as the institutes that provide the qualifications. It allows students to trust the quality of their education, and it allows employers to trust the quality of their new recruits.
Additional Benefits of TAFE
TAFE has many benefits for students:
- Entry requirements are not nearly as strict as for university study. There are no entry requirements for Certificate I courses, for instance, and if you’ve completed your A levels, you may enter at the TAFE Diploma level.
- TAFE is flexible. They can be studied part-time, full-time, online or on-campus.
- Some TAFE institutes offer rolling registrations, so you can apply for and start your course whenever it’s convenient for you. In other words, you don’t have to wait for semester dates.
- TAFE is affordable, and there are several government funding programs that make higher education even more accessible, no matter what your income or budget.
- TAFE qualifications can be used as pathways to undergraduate degrees and can shorten the period of undergraduate study by up to a year.
- Some TAFE institutes are able to offer undergraduate degree courses and graduate certificates and diplomas, so you don’t even have to transfer to another school.
- TAFE is ideal for people who want to change careers and who need to study for their new profession while still working in their old one.
- TAFE can be used for continuing professional development.
- Short courses can also be used to develop a new hobby or expand on existing hobby skills
What Study Options Are Available to Me?
TAFE is extremely flexible. It comes in a variety of formats which suit just about any lifestyle. There are part-time and full-time courses, and courses that can be considered a hybrid of both. There are on-campus options and online courses for people who may not be geographically close to an institute or who need to balance work, study, and family commitments. There are also semester-based courses and rolling courses, which are usually offered by online TAFE providers.
TAFE semester courses are structured according to predetermined dates: application dates, starting dates, assignment dates, exam dates, and closing dates, etc. All on-campus courses are semester based, but not all online courses are. Semesters vary from region to region and institute to institute, so TAFE in NSW may not start at the same time as those in QLD.
Most TAFE institutes offer students online study options, even though they may be traditional brick and mortar institutions. It’s important to note that not all courses are suited to online study. If this is the case, some institutes may offer hybrid courses in which students have to attend a certain number of practicals, tutorials, or lecture hours per study unit or course.
TAFE short courses serve a number of purposes. They can be introductory courses for certain applications, like beginners courses in Microsoft Word. Interested parties can then increase their skills with intermediate and advanced courses. They can also top up existing skills, for example, research methodology for doctorate students, or BAS Registration for accountants and tax professionals. Short courses vary in duration from half-day to six weeks.
Regional TAFE Institutions
Every region in Australia has its own TAFE institutes, many of which have campuses spread across all the major cities and towns. Many of the major cities have several different TAFE providers. Some institutes specialise in certain fields of study, while others offer the full variety of courses.
There are six TAFE institutes in Queensland (QLD), which are known as the collective TAFE Queensland Institutes. TAFE Queensland was formed through the amalgamation of the Brisbane North Institute (BNIT), Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (MSIT) and the Southbank Institute of TAFE.
View our guide to TAFE courses in Queensland.
There are five TAFE campus locations in Brisbane, including; South Bank, Alexandra Hills, Bracken Ridge, Caboolture, Grovely, Loganlea, Mount Gravatt and Redcliffe. TAFE Brisbane also allows students to take advantage of distance and online study opportunities, with many different courses to choose from across certificate to advance diploma level.
TAFE East Coast
The Sunshine Coast is provided TAFE courses through TAFE East Coast, which has a number of locations along the East Sunshine Coast, including; Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Nambour, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Gympie and Maryborough. It offers students pathways to undergraduate degrees at the University of the Sunshine Coast. It offers a diverse range of courses in the fields of Business, Engineering, IT, Graphic Design, and Health, among others.
The Tropical North Queensland has many TAFE campuses provided through TAFE North, based in and around Cairns. It’s other campus locations include; Atherton, Bamaga, Bowen, Burdekin, Cairns (Great Barrier Reef International Marine College), Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Ingham, Innisfail, Mount Isa, Normanton, Palm Island, Thursday Island, Townsville and the Whitsundays. It specialises in marine-related courses, but it has faculties in Business, Environment, Sustainability and Tourism, Heath and Community Care, Marine and IT, Trade and Outdoor Industries.
TAFE South West
The southern region of Queensland is offered TAFE through the TAFE South West Institute. It has a number of different campus locations on offer, including; Bundama, Toowoomba, Chinchilla, Dalby, Inala, Kingroy, Nurunderi, Roma, Springfield and Warwick. It offers over 300 courses across a spectrum of industries and has pathways to the University of Southern Queensland.
TAFE Gold Coast
TAFE Gold Coast has campuses along Queensland’s famed Gold Coast, with locations in Ashmore, Coolangatta, Coomera and Southport. It offers various apprenticeships and traineeships, TAFE certificates and diplomas, government funded programs, and indigenous programs. It provides pathways to several universities, including Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, University of Southern Queensland, James Cook University, and Australian Catholic University.
CQUniversity Mackay City
CQUniversity offers TAFE vocational training as well as University degrees, and it’s Mackay campus has quality TAFE courses across a large range of subject fields.
New South Wales (NSW)
There are ten TAFE institutes in New South Wales (NSW), including the Hunter Institute, Riverina Institute, and, New England Institute. It also has over 140 campuses. The institutes and campuses have the entire territory covered, but there is some overlap as different institutes are present in the same city. For example, Sydney has four TAFE institutes. View our guide to TAFE Courses in New South Wales.
Sydney is one the biggest TAFE locations in NSW, with four institutes with campuses throughout the inner city, eastern suburbs and southwards. The TAFE Institutes include; Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, South Western institute of TAFE, Sydney Institute of TAFE and Western Institute of TAFE. It offers a number of apprenticeships and training programs as well and includes state-of-the-art facilities. You can find out more here.
Illawarra Institute of TAFE has eight campuses in NSW, including Wollongong, Wollongong West, Bega, Cooma, Goulburn, Moruya, Nowra, Shellharbour and Yellah. Qualifications on offer include TAFE Statement of Attendance, TAFE Certificates I – IV, TAFE Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas, and Graduate Certificates and Diplomas. Wollongong is Illawarra’s biggest campus.
New England Institute of TAFE (NSW) has two specialised campuses, one of which is in Tamworth, and the other, Armidale. Tamworth is the biggest of the Institute’s campuses in the territory with the widest range of study options. Tamworth provides education in some fields, including; aged care, animal care, business community services, horticulture, hospitality and IT. Armidale, on the other hand, offers specialised training in agriculture, children’s services, film and television and massage.
Port Macquarie is just one of North Coast TAFE’s fifteen campuses in the state. Port Macquarie offers over 600 nationally accredited courses that include massage therapy, hospitality, assorted design courses, and assorted business courses. Online and distance learning are provided by the North Coast TAFE Open Campus.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
ACT is Australia’s smallest territory, so it’s not surprising that it has the fewest TAFE institutes: One, to be exact. Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) offers training and education to over 20,000 students every year, from 86 different countries. Its part-time courses are very popular, as is its Adult Migrant English Program. View our guide to TAFE Courses in Australian Capital Territory.
Canberra Institute of Technology has six campuses in the city: Bruce, Fyshwick, Gungahlin, Reid, Tuggeranong, and Woden. It offers over 400 courses, including apprenticeships, traineeships, certificates, diplomas and degrees. The subjects available are incredibly diverse and include Accounting, Aged Care, Drainage, Information Technology, Nursing, Travel and Tourism, Visual Arts, Welding, and Youth Justice.
Victoria (VIC) has many TAFE institutes and universities that provide courses to local and international students. Some of the institutes include the Gordon Institute of TAFE in Geelong, Wodonga TAFE, Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, and Kangan Institute. View our guide to TAFE Courses in Victoria.
If you’re in Melbourne, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to TAFE providers, as most have at least one campus in the city.
Melbourne Polytechnic (previouslyNorthern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) has seven campuses: Preston, Collingwood, Fairfield, Epping, Heidelberg, Prahran and soon the newly refurbished Greensborough campus. The centres specialise in different subjects such as Welding, Food Technology, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Performing Arts, Aquaculture, Cattle Farming, and Wine Making.
Victoria University (VU) offers a variety of courses from its different campuses in the territory through its TAFE branch, Victoria Polytechnic. Study fields include Arts, Business, Education, Engineering and Science, Health and Biomedicine, Law and Justice, and Sport and Exercise Science.
Box Hill Institute offers courses across three campuses in the East Melbourne area. The campuses include; Lilydale, Box Hill and City Campus. Courses are available in a number of different fields, including Animals and Science, Arts and Music, Automotive and Transport, Business and IT, Construction and Plumbing, Education and Languages, Electrical and Refrigeration, Engineering and Manufacturing, Hair and Beauty, Health and Community, and Hospitality and Tourism.
Holmesglen Institute of TAFE has five campuses in Melbourne: Chadstone Campus, Southbank City, Moorabbin Campus, North Melbourne, and Glen Waverley Campus. It offers over 100 courses in various forms, including short courses, apprenticeships, online courses, university preparation courses, TAFE certificates and diplomas, and bachelor degrees and graduate certificates.
Chisholm offers courses from south east Melbourne. It has six campuses: Bass Coast, Berwick, Cranbourne, Dandenong, Frankston, and Mornington Peninsula. In addition to on-campus study opportunities, there are online learning options and even options to complete TAFE in your workplace. Chisholm TAFE provides pathways to several universities, including Monash University, Deakin University, La Trobe University, Swinburne University, and Victoria University.
Kangan Institute offers nearly 300 courses from six campuses in Melbourne, including Broadmeadows, Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Richmond, and Docklands. It also has 10 training centres that cover fields such as Aviation, Automotive, Fashion, Health, and Engineering.
Bendigo TAFE has three campuses in Bendigo, as well as two others in Echuca and Castlemaine in northern and central Victoria. TAFE certificate through to diploma courses are available in a variety of fields, such as Occupational Health and Safety, Conservation and Land Management, Engineering, Visual Arts, Nursing, Mental Health, Allied Health, Beauty Therapy, and Information Technology Networking.
TAFE in Tasmania is provided by two institutions: TasTAFE and the Australian Maritime College. View our guide to TAFE Courses in Tasmania.
TasTAFE has 13 campuses across the state; Alanvale, Inveresk, Launceston, Burnie, Devonport, Smithton, South Burnie, Bathurst Street, Bender Drive, Campbell Street, Claremont, Clarence and Drysdale. It offers a wide range of courses, available through full-time and part- time study methods, as well as a select range of online courses. Just about every field of subject is covered, with a combined total of 400 courses.
South Australia (SA)
TAFE SA offers over 1,300 courses to students in South Australia. TAFE SA diploma and advanced diploma courses provide a pathway to Flinders University. Various types of courses are available, including TAFE VET courses for secondary school students, apprenticeships, award courses, and short courses. TAFE SA has many, many campuses in Adelaide and regional South Australia, including Barossa & Riverland, Eyre & West Coast, Southern Regions, and Yorke and Northern Regions. View our guide to TAFE Courses in South Australia.
TAFE SA campuses in Adelaide include; Adelaide Campus, Regency Campus, Elizabeth Campus, Gilles Plaines Campus, Morphettville Campus, Parafield Campus, Salisbury Campus, Tee Tree Gully Campus, Port Adelaide Campus, Urrbrae Campus, Tonsley Campus, Noarlunga Campus and Adelaide College of the Arts. Courses cover a wide range of study areas, such as Agriculture, Design, Engineering, Marketing, Education, Beauty, Tourism, IT and Health.
Western Australia (WA)
TAFE in WA has undergone recent changes, similar to other states around Australia in the past few years. A number of prominent TAFE institutes in the state have become amalgamated, to form five new TAFE providers based across the wide expanse of Western Australia. These former providers include:
- Central Institute of Technology (CIT)
- West Coast Institute of Training
- Challenger Institute of Technology (Challenger TAFE)
- Great Southern Institute of Technology
- Kimberley Training Institute
- South West Institute of Technology
- Pilbara Institute
- Polytechnic West
These former TAFE providers are now known as the collective TAFE WA institutes of North Metropolitan TAFE, South Metropolitan TAFE, Central Regional TAFE, South Regional TAFE and North Regional TAFE. View our guide to TAFE in Courses Western Australia.
North Metropolitan TAFE is the primary TAFE provider in the Perth region, the campuses include; Leederville, East Perth, Mount Lawlet, Northbridge, Joondalup and the recently acquired Balga and Midland. Courses range from certificate to advanced diploma level, with full-time, part-time and online options available as well as short courses. just about every subject is also covered, from agriculture, construction, engineering, through to beauty and hospitality.
TAFE in Bunbury is provided by South Regional TAFE. Bunbury is the institute’s main campus. It offers students many state-of-the-art facilities, serving a wide range of course subject offerings. South Regional TAFE provides certificate to advanced diploma level courses, as well as a number of short courses and university pathway options for future study.
Northern Territory (NT)
TAFE in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) is provided by Charles Darwin University. Charles Darwin University reached its status as a TAFE course provider via a circuitous route that involved the merger of several other colleges, institutes, and universities. View our guide to TAFE in Northern Territory.
Charles Darwin University offers a comprehensive range of TAFE across several industries, including Agriculture, Conservation and Land Management, Children’s Services and Education Support, Community Services and Health, Business, IT and Library Studies, Tourism and Hospitality, Construction, Drafting and Industry Skills Training, Plumbing, Metal Trades, and National Transport and Logistics Training.
The Australian government wants to make higher education and training accessible to all its citizens. As a result, it has launched several government funds and subsidy programs for people who want to improve their skills through TAFE and VET courses. Subsidies are also available for employers who want to help develop their staff members’ skills.
Types of Funding
There are several different funding programs available, depending on the region and the training needs.
The Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG)
The Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG) provides VET to people who never studied after completing school, as well as for people who want to build on their current level of higher education. The Victorian government has opened the program up to such an extent that there is no limit to the number of subsidised training places available – provided people meet the criteria.
To qualify you must be:
- An Australian citizen
- A permanent resident
- A New Zealand citizen
You should also meet any of the following criteria:
- Be under 20 years old, or 20 years and older with the intention to build upon an existing higher education qualification
- Be interested in a course on the Approved Foundation Skills course list
- Have your eye on a Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or a Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)
- Have your eye on an apprenticeship
Australian Apprentices Program
There are several apprenticeship funding programs designed to encourage training and development in the emerging workforce.
Some of the programs include:
- Tools For Your Trade Payment: Apprentices are given tax exempt cash payments to cover all training costs. Apprentices must be enrolled in Certificate III or IV courses on the National Skills Needs List, although there are certain exceptions.
- Living Away from Home Allowance: Apprentices are given a living allowance for the first three years of their training away from home.
- Support for Adult Australian Apprentices: Designed to encourage adults to improve their skills and training. The payment amount is determined according to the wages the apprentice earns. Criteria include being 25 years and old, and being enrolled in Certificate III or IV courses on the National Skills Needs List.
- Support for Australian Apprentices with Disability: Includes several initiatives for employers who want to accommodate more disabled apprentices and the disabled apprentices themselves.
- Apprentice Kickstart Initiative: Is aimed at employers to encourage businesses to offer apprenticeships in building and construction, and engineering.
Other Funding Programmes
- National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF): Aims to encourage organisations to assess their current and future workforce development needs, so that they can apply for the funding necessary to train new and existing workers to meet those needs. Applications are open to organisations, Registered Training Organisations, existing workers, and new workers.
- Skills Connect Fund: Allows employers to comprehensively address their development needs by accessing TAFE and VET courses, and mentoring programs and support services.
- Auswide Colleges New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS): For unemployed people who are over 18 years old and who want to start their own small business. The program is funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Participants are required to complete TAFE Certificate IV in Small Business Management, and will receive a further 52 weeks of income support and mentoring.
Loan Schemes & Financial Assistance
In Australia, subsidised higher education fees and government loans are called HELP (Higher Education Loan Program). There are several different types of HELP available. These include:
- HECS-HELP: A loan scheme and discount program for Commonwealth supported students.
- FEE-HELP: A loan scheme that helps students pay all or a portion of their tuition fees. Students have a FEE-HELP limit; this depends on the field being studied.
- SA-HELP: A loan scheme that helps pay for all or a portion of student services and amenities fees, including sporting activities, child care, food services, and financial advice.
- VET Student Loans: This replaced the previous VET FEE- HELP. For students taking higher level VET courses; i.e., diploma level and above. It is used for tuition fees and not sundry study costs.
A number of scholarships are available, including:
- Australia Awards: A scholarship program that consists of two streams. The Achievement stream helps promising students, researchers, and professionals enter Australia, and helps promising Australian students, researchers, and professionals spread their wings abroad. The Development stream helps build skills in developing countries.
- Australian Postgraduate Awards: Scholarships for outstanding research degree candidates in Australia.
- Commonwealth Scholarships Program: Provides scholarships for Indigenous higher education students who have to move from remote areas to complete their studies.
Universities themselves may offer financial aid to students who meet certain criteria. The loans can be used to pay tuition, living, or study-related costs.