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TAFE or University – What’s better for you?


Different occupations require different qualifications. For some jobs, having a degree is essential while others require hours of work experience and practical placements. How do you determine which is better for you, TAFE or university?

Barriers to entry

TAFE admission requirements vary depending on the course you want to study. Some institutions, including Box Hill Institute, do not require an ATAR score for entry however, prior to enrolment students are required to complete a literacy and numeracy assessment and pre-training interview. These assessments are conducted to determine if the course is suitable for you.

Admission into university is based on ATAR achievements but there can be additional selection criteria such as admission tests or subject prerequisites.

Job ready with higher starting salary

Choosing to study at TAFE gets you job ready as soon as possible. The time it takes to complete a university degree can be costly and last 3 – 4 years, whereas TAFE courses are shorter in length with some certificates only requiring six months of study.

TAFE students often gain valuable experience in their relevant field while they are studying through the support of industry partnerships, which gives them a head start to the job market. Of Box Hill Institute students, 85% are employed within six months of completing their study, and have the opportunity to earn a higher starting salary after graduating than a university graduate.

With industries rapidly evolving, universities can struggle to keep up with the changing trends. University students are at risk of learning outdated information and graduating with minimal practical experience and skills, reducing their employability. 

Cost of study

Studying at university can accumulate thousands of dollars in a HECS-HELP debt. Although, you won’t be charged interest, your debt will be indexed every year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to maintain its real value.

At TAFE, you pay upfront. Although this may seem costly at first, TAFE courses are generally cheaper and shorter in length compared to university degrees. There are financial support systems in place for many TAFE institutions, which include payment plans, VET Student Loans and FEE-HELP.

Both universities and TAFEs offer scholarships, but TAFEs benefit from strong industry relationships and some industry partners sponsor scholarships. Then, not only do you benefit from financial support but also from opportunities to be recognised within the industry. You can also develop relationships and make connections for future employment and personal development.

Simulated work environment

Victorian TAFEs like Box Hill Institute offer excellent state of the art training facilities. Get a real taste of what it’s like to work on the job using industry tools and techniques in simulated work environments that are industry standard. Take advantage of the cutting-edge training facilities through a mix of learning approaches from practical, theoretical, online learning and work placement.

At university, expect to be sharing a lecture theatre with hundreds of other students and coming to class where the teachers might not even know your name. When you study with TAFE, expect smaller class sizes, coupled with hands on learning to gain a personalised learning experience. With dedicated, expert teachers equipped with years of industry experience, studying at TAFE may be a better option.

TAFE and university are two very different types of educational institutions that offer different qualifications. The best way to decide what’s best for you is to consider the barriers to entry, course affordability, the outcomes you’re after, the skills  you need, and the career  you want to pursue.