With so many study options, providers and acronyms in education, it can be hard to work out what’s what. To help make things easier for you, we’ve put together some of the most well known types of education in Australia and explained what they actually mean.
TAFE – Technical and Further Education
TAFE stands for Technical and Further Education and is designed to make higher education affordable and accessible to everyone in Australia. TAFE courses, which range from building and construction to paramedical science. TAFE courses can be completed on a semester basis, online or as short courses. TAFE is also available for a wide range of people, from school goers and school leavers to those seeking to update their skills and those who want to work their way up to university degrees.
TAFE courses are flexible, which makes them ideal for people who need to work and study at the same time or who can’t physically attend college or university.
And, because TAFE courses provide pathways to university, they are nationally accredited and form part of the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework). Qualifications are available on a variety of levels, from certificates all the way to degrees.
One important difference between TAFE courses and traditional university degrees is that TAFE adheres to the VET (Vocational Education and Training) approach, which means that learning is more practical in nature. TAFE also recognises prior learning, so if you want to take a couple of courses in accounting, you don’t necessarily have to start at Certificate I to finally walk away with an advanced diploma.
TAFE courses are provided by government TAFE institutes, such as, TAFE WA, TAFE VICTORIA or TAFE Queensland, but there are also private TAFE schools – private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
VET stands for Vocational Education and Training. It’s an internationally applied system of education that focuses on practical skills training and which is particularly popular in Australia. VET is ideal for high school students who want to go straight into the work environment, who want to change careers, or refresh their skills.
VET courses are offered by Registered Training Organisations, such as government TAFE institutes and private colleges. VET courses are approved by the AQF and cover four broad qualifications levels, including Certificate I-IV (progressive courses from introductory level up), Diplomas (business, health, finance), Advanced Diplomas (which many universities recognise as legitimate prior learning), and Vocational Graduate Certificates and Diplomas.
Vocational Education and Training courses are also available for Australian secondary school students in Australia. Students in Year 10, 11 or 12 can take TVET or TAFE vocational courses to prepare for their careers or to complete their Higher School Certificate. VET courses are also a great way to get into apprenticeships in Australia.
AQF stands for Australian Qualifications Framework. The system is designed to provide a national framework that regulates the standard of education across the country, across all education levels and to allow students to move from one level and from one region to another easily. One way in which AQF provides for all this is through recognition of prior learning (RPL); that means you don’t necessarily have to start at the very, very beginning of a course if you already have several years’ work experience.
It is convenient because each qualification follows a nationally recognised structure and works towards nationally recognised standards. AQF applies to senior secondary certificates of education(Certificate I, II, III and IV), vocational and technical education (Certificates, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Vocational Graduate Diploma), and higher education (Diploma, Associate Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Master’s Degree, Doctoral Degree).
AQF qualifications also include foundation and bridging courses, English language training courses, vocational certificates and diplomas and university degrees.