How university differs from TAFE

You may have heard that uni places more emphasis on theory while TAFE is more hands-on. Well, not really – read on.

Different qualifications

Most undergraduates (first time university students) study toward a bachelor degree, whereas at TAFE, the qualifications available are certificate I, II, III or IV, diploma and advanced diploma.

The Australian Qualification Framework ranks the bachelor degree higher than the TAFE qualifications, but different professions require different qualifications, so if you have a particular career in mind you should look into which qualifications you’ll need.

Course duration

An undergraduate degree at university will usually take three to four years’ full-time study. A TAFE course will usually take one to three years, depending on the qualification.

Style of learning

A common belief is that universities place a lot of emphasis on theory, whereas TAFE is more hands-on. In some ways this is true – TAFE offers predominantly ‘vocational’ courses which prepare students to work in fields like hospitality, tourism, construction, office work, community work or to undertake a trade. University, on the other hand, offers a lot of ‘professional’ courses which prepare graduates to be supervisors, managers and consultants in their chosen field.

This doesn’t mean you miss out on practical experience if you study at Curtin. All our courses are grounded in the real world, equipping graduates with strong, practical skills to complement the theoretical study.

TAFE as a stepping stone

TAFE can be thought of as a stepping stone if you don’t qualify for university straight away. On completion of certain TAFE studies, you will be assigned a TER (ATAR) and be eligible to study at university.

Curtin’s minimum admission criteria for students who have studied at TAFE are:

  • Certificate IV, although a diploma or higher is often required
  • English language proficiency; and
  • Subject prerequisites specific to the university course.

Have any questions about courses, admission criteria, bridging and enabling courses or anything else Curtin related? We can answer it.