TAFE vs Uni: Choose the Right Pathway for You

TAFE vs Uni: Choose the Right Pathway for You

Have you just finished high school? Or maybe you’re looking to enhance your skillset.

Just like many other people, you’re faced with the age-old question:

 Should I go to TAFE or Uni?

The answer will be different for every individual in the TAFE vs Uni debate.

TAFE and VET courses are different in many ways compared to a university degree.

For some, the pathway may be quite clear. If you want to become a doctor you would need to attend university. However, if you prefer a hands-on profession like an electrician you would choose TAFE.  But for some, the right pathway isn’t as clear. To help encourage an informed choice, we have provided a TAFE vs Uni Comparison.

It’s also important to note, TAFE is not the only option when it comes to practical Vocational Education & Training Courses. There are many other local, registered training organisations, which offer Certificate 3 level courses to get you qualified in high growth employment industries.

So while we are providing a TAFE vs Uni Comparison, it pays to remember RTOs such as Centacare, should also be considered, as we offer many other unique benefits to get qualified and land your dream job.

Skills: TAFE vs Uni

TAFE and other Nationally Recognised Training Organisations (RTOs) like Centacare provide job-specific skills. These skills tend to be practical in nature and require work placement as part of the course. This style of learning aims to prepare you to enter the job market immediately.

In comparison, the university teaching style is more theoretical. At university, you will learn skills such as critical thinking and in-depth analysis. A bachelor degree is designed to lead to professional career paths. Work placement is not usually included as part of the degree, students will likely have to independently seek internships to complete alongside or after their degree to learn on the job skills.

Vocational education courses tend to create graduates that are more job-ready. According to a survey by the 2015 Future Leaders Index, 64% of students believe their university degree did not sufficiently equip them with the practical skills to help fulfil workplace needs.  In fact, 84% of those surveyed believe there needs to be much more workplace training for students in their degrees.

Employability: TAFE vs Uni

Currently, there is a big endorsement by the Australian government for Vocational Education Courses.  According to the Joyce Report,  the skills taught in VET and TAFE are in high demand in Australia.  Some high demand job areas in Australia include:

  • Healthcare and Social Assistance (like our courses in Aged Care and Disability Support)
  • Retail Trade
  • Construction
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Education and Training

While there is a higher demand for VET graduates, university also has its place. Some jobs require a university degree, such as law and engineering.

Course Structure: TAFE vs Uni

VET course structures typically do not differ at TAFE and other RTOs. This is because VET qualifications follow a nationally endorsed, industry-developed training package which sets out the required competencies that students should achieve in each qualification level.

In contrast, each university will offer varying courses and within each course different structures. For example, if you did a Bachelor of Business at one university, another university may call it a Bachelor of Commerce and have very different unit requirements. 

Accessibility:  TAFE vs Uni

TAFE and other RTOs are very accessible and have fewer entry requirements than universities. At the Certificate level, you will require no prior education, while some diplomas may require past study.

In fact, a Certificate III course doesn’t necessarily require you to have completed Year 12. Some higher-level courses may require prior tests, interviews, portfolios and auditions in order to be accepted.

Each university has different ATAR scores required to gain acceptance, and some bachelor degrees require specific scores that are higher than the minimum entry requirement.

Universities do offer bridging courses that can range from 6 months to 1 year depending on the university. To qualify for a bridging course, you will need your Year 12 Completion Certificate.

Length of study: TAFE vs Uni

VET qualifications can be completed on a semester basis, via short courses, and online.  Depending on the course, the length of study can range from 4 months to 2 years. The TAFE semester runs from February to December. Other RTOs will have different dates so it’s important to contact the individual provider for specific dates. Centacare’s Certificate III courses can be completed in 16 weeks, including work experience and run year-round.

Bachelor degrees at university can take a minimum of 3 years to complete full time. The university year runs from March to November.

Cost: TAFE vs Uni

VET courses range from AUD $400 TO $22,000 per year.

These costs can vary depending on the institution and course, so it’s best to check with the provider directly for an exact cost for the course you are interested in.

VET courses require payment either up-front or on a flexible payment plan. Students on concession may be eligible and could have their fees waived. Students completing a diploma and advanced diplomas can access VET FEE-HELP, which allows the tuition fees to be deferred until they begin earning a certain income level. With concession, Centacare’s VET fees can be as low as $420.00.

The average cost for a Bachelor Degree across Australia is over AUD $30,000.

University degrees can be costly and are unlikely to be subsidised unless you are the recipient of a scholarship. The benefit of university, given you are an Australian citizen, is that you can apply for a HELP Debt (formerly HECs). This is a zero-interest loan that you will not have to pay off until are earning over a certain salary.

Learning Environment: TAFE vs Uni

Both TAFE and Uni share a similar learning environment. Some features they have in common include:

  • Large campus
  • Large classes
  • Multiple cohorts
  • A large variety of trainers

If you are looking for a more intimate learning environment, where you can still receive Vocational Education qualifications, smaller Registered Training Organisations like Centacare may be best for you. At Centacare, our courses are taught by the same trainer and our classes have under 20 students. In these courses, you’ll also have access to additional support including:

  • Language and literacy assistance
  • Mentoring programs
  • Student support

Start your journey with Centacare

At the end of the day, choosing the right career path for you relies on your personal circumstances, aspirations and interests. If you are thinking of studying a VET course, Centacare offers a range of certificates to get you qualified. For more information on the courses we offer, get in touch or give us a call (08) 9482 7000.

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