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University vs Tafe – Which is Right for You?

university vs tafe
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University vs Tafe – Which is Right for You?

The University vs Tafe Decision

The question of University vs Tafe has always been the comparison parents and their children make when deciding what to do post-school gate.

Tafe has always been a large provider of post-secondary education in Australia with a wide offering of courses across many campuses spread all over Australia.

They tend to provide trade and technical certificates and diplomas geared to more practical hands-on occupations. The University system has always incorporated theory and research besides their courses and provided degrees for professional careers like accounting, finance, law, and medicine to name a few.

Since the 1980s many people had been educated through the university system. Parents who successfully graduated from university and have had professional career pathways will always be inclined to advise their children toward university degrees. Because that has been their personal experience and it has worked for them.

If you are graduating from High School today, the question is, is this the right choice for you?

Most students will trust their parent’s judgment and sign up for university without hesitation. What’s good for Mum and Dad should be right for me. They often hope that after 4 or 5 years of university, they too will get a job like their parents. The fact is that sometimes they won’t get a job as they expect.

If you are a new university student who is unsure whether the degree you have chosen is the right investment, it may be an idea to read an article by Tony Featherstone ‘Is University worth it?’  published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I don’t think there is any hard or fast rule but when making decisions about the learning and career pathway you want to take, just make sure you have all the facts and knowledge at your disposal.

Many students are in danger of defaulting to going to university because their parents have done so or their friends are going. This is one of the most common career decision traps students fall into. They then study for four or five years for a degree they have no passion for. Add a $30,000 to $75,000 HECS Debt as well and it will leave you questioning did I make the right decision for me.

University Business Model

There are many universities competing to entice students to ensure their financial viability and sustainability. The University Business model has changed. Australian universities are competing against high-quality overseas universities and the TAFE system for your dollar.

It’s worth big money to the university to keep you enrolled if the average 5-year degree can cost up to $75,000. So when talking to a university about course selection keep this in mind, their motivations may be quite different from yours.

TAFE System

The TAFE system is now changing and offering courses to compete with universities to get people employed faster. For example, Cybersecurity and Digital Marketing courses. So TAFE can be a great option as it may be cheaper, you can qualify faster, and start working sooner or at the same time as you are studying.

Your career decision-making is a major financial and personal decision that needs to be carefully considered. Rather than default to what is expected of you or what others around you are doing, make sure you are doing the research and making a decision that will ultimately get you closer to your career goal. Another option could also be to move from TAFE to university. There are many possibilities to consider in your decision-making.

Career Planning

If you need help with navigating this question of University vs TAFE, advice about career pathways is a clever way of finding which further education is best for you. Through career pathway planning, the answer becomes fairly obvious whether University or TAFE or maybe another college will suit you best.

You may find that you could go from TAFE to University as another option. This can happen if you don’t receive the required ATAR for a particular University course. There are many TAFE courses that may give you some preliminary education on a particular career area like Cybersecurity or Civit Construction as examples.

Written by Gina Bell

Gina Bell is a university-qualified Sydney Career Expert in Career Advice, Career Coaching, and Career Counselling. She also works as a Talent Development Consultant for commercial organisations. She is passionate about aligning a person’s work purpose in a work environment where they can find fulfillment & reach their potential. Her qualifications include a Graduate Diploma in Career Development, a Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting, and a Bachelor of Economics.

She is registered with the Career Industry Council of Australia, Professional Member of the Career Development Association of Australia, National Career Development Association in the USA, Asia Pacific Career Development Association & Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.

In her free time, she loves to travel, cook and learn.

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