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'Uni or TAFE?'


‘I didn’t get the marks to get into uni. Is TAFE a good alternative option?’

Amanda, 18


TAFE is a great stepping stone if you don’t get into university straight from Year 12. Depending on what course you are doing and what your ultimate career goal is, it could be an even better option than university.

The learning environment of TAFE is more focused on ensuring students gain practical skills for work. If you prefer to be more hands-on in your learning then TAFE could be a good fit.

The other advantage of going to TAFE is that it can be an easier transition from high school to tertiary study. Class sizes are generally smaller and there tends to be more personal contact with teachers.

At TAFE, qualifications are certificate I, II, III or IV, diploma and then advanced diploma. Completing a qualification may take one to three years, depending on what course you are doing. You can build on your qualifications as you go and there are exit points along the way.

Make sure you have a look at The Job Guide to review the qualifications needed to work in the job or area you are interested in. TAFE tends to offer predominantly vocational courses that prepare students to work in fields like building and construction, aged care, community work, office work or trades; whereas university caters to more ‘professional’ white-collar careers such as law, medicine, academia, research, consulting or general business.

The good news is that many institutions are now dual-sector, so they have both TAFE and university courses, and many TAFE courses can act as pathways into university degrees. For example, a Diploma of Nursing can be a pathway to a Bachelor of Nursing; likewise, a Diploma of Business can segue into a Bachelor of Business. So even if you didn’t get the marks to enter uni now, it could still be an option down the track with the help of a TAFE course.

Jo Messer is a Career Development Specialist who has many years of experience in supporting and guiding students and graduates of some of Australia’s most respected universities, as well as mature-aged clients, across all facets of their career. She is a Professional Member of CDAA and an active member of NAGCAS. Whether you have a specific question about how to achieve your career goal or something more general, Jo is available to provide you with up-to-date advice.

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