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TAFE or uni? Breaking down the main differences
Will TAFE or uni better suit your child’s career path?
When your kids finish school and head out into the world as fully fledged adults, it’s a time that can be full of excitement, exhilaration and the feeling of freedom. For both you and them.
But it’s often coupled with some apprehension and uncertainty too.
There are plenty of things to consider when your kids are leaving school and deciding “what’s next?”.
While some head straight into a job, a large proportion of school leavers in Australia look to further education as the next step.
Further education can give your children greater employment and financial opportunities. It’s a chance for them to get the skills they need to pursue a challenge or field of interest. It's also a great avenue for them to develop their communication skills and create networks that will benefit them throughout life.
Further education isn’t just for the school leavers. With the nature of the Australian workplace undergoing a significant shift, developing your skills through further study can also help future-proof your own career.
Further study is an investment
Pursuing further studies at TAFE or university can seem like a hefty investment of time and money. But its returns are invaluable. Not only will you (or your kids) get the industry skills to put you ahead of the pack, you’ll also gain other benefits like improved communication, teamwork and administrative skills.
Is TAFE or university right for you?
Both TAFE and university offer opportunities for further education.
Either option can potentially help you be more financially, professionally, and socially secure. Taking either the university or TAFE path can help set you up for success in the career area you pursue.
But what are the main differences between uni and TAFE?
And how do you know which one is right for you?
What is TAFE?
TAFE stands for Technical and Further Education. It’s a vocational training provider run by each state government in Australia. Vocational education and training is study that offers you the opportunity to learn specific and practical job skills.
TAFE is just one part of the VET (Vocational Education and Training) sector in Australia. There are also other private providers.
TAFE provides education in vocational areas, like beauty, design, childcare, accounting, business, recruitment, IT, and many more. With a focus on specific skills for a particular workplace, a TAFE course is typically a combination of theory and practical skills training.
Plus it’s worth remembering that if you go down the TAFE path, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a university degree later.
What is university?
University is a higher education provider. Students study for degrees and academic research is undertaken by university teaching staff and senior students.
In Australia, entrance into university is attached to an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) which all students receive when they leave high school.
The required ATAR for a course is dependent on the amount of demand for that course and the number of places the university has for it. The higher the demand for a course, the higher the required ATAR.
But there are also other ways you can gain entry into university. So if you've already been working or didn’t complete high school, attending university is still a very real option.
What’s the difference between university and TAFE?
TAFE and universities are both educational institutions, but the way they approach teaching is quite different and the types of courses on offer also vary.
Although you’ll find some cross over of courses, university tends to offer degrees in more professional fields.
TAFE on the other hand provides education for more practically based courses. The certificate or diploma courses on offer are focused on practical learning.
Traditionally, the primary difference between TAFE and university was that TAFE provided education and training for trade courses like electricians or hairdressers, while universities provide degrees and higher education for professional careers choices like law and medicine.
But things are changing and there is more crossover with the types of courses on offer at both TAFE and university.
University courses usually take 3 or 4 years to complete (and sometimes longer) and most TAFE courses can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to complete depending on the course.
TAFE vs Uni
There are lots of things to consider when deciding between TAFE and university. From what career you’d like to pursue and your preferred learning style to how you plan to pay the fees.
In the past, university was the only path to complete a degree and TAFE offered a certificate or diploma qualification only.
However, you can now earn associate and bachelor degrees for certain professions through TAFE.
The main things to consider before deciding on which path is right for you are:
- What type of job interests you?
If you want to be a plumber, then TAFE is for you. If you want to be a doctor then university it is.
But there are plenty of jobs that are not so clear cut. For example, if you want to study accounting it’s possible to go down either path. Take the time to research the course structures. And get in touch with both the TAFE and university to talk about the course in more detail. It will likely help you know which one is the better fit.
- Are you a hands on or theoretical learner?
If you like to learn things in a more hands on approach a TAFE course may be better suited. University courses are predominantly theory based.
- Entry requirements
You’ll usually (not always) need to get the required ATAR to be accepted into university. TAFE has fewer entry requirements.
Average cost of a Bachelor’s Degree in Australia is around $30,000 while TAFE (and other VET) courses range from about $400 TO $22,000 per year.
- Learning environment
Will you be learning online? Do you learn better when supported? Are you a self-motivated student? Consider these things and your decision may be easier.
- Length of study
If you’re itching to get out in the workforce, consider how long your course is and if you think you can stick it out. You don’t want to take on more than is realistic from the outset.
Financing your TAFE or university dream
University or TAFE education costs money. But there are options to ease the financial impact. Consider a tax-effective Futurity EdSaver, designed to help you save and invest for your family’s future education expenses. Your continuing education can and should be something you and your family can realistically achieve.
The cost of further education shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do. With the types of jobs we need in the future constantly changing, further education will likely need to be part of your future too.
EdSaver designed specifically for saving and investing to tax-effectively accumulate the money you need for education expenses. Regardless of whether it’s for yourself or your kids.
Get in touch with Futurity Investment Group to look at the options available to help you finance TAFE or university education for you and your family.