What is the difference between TAFE education and a private education provider?

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With so many courses available, deciding which educational program is right for you can be challenging.

The key to making the right decision is understanding how you learn best and which career path you’d like to take. 

A university education, TAFE qualification and VET course each offer something unique and appeal to different people.

To guide you along your journey, we’ve compiled a helpful guide detailing the similarities and differences between TAFE and private colleges. 

What is TAFE?

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes offer Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses at certificate and diploma levels. These courses provide the practical expertise you need to succeed in paraprofessional or vocational roles. 

So whether you’re interested in digital media, nursing, business or beauty, there’s a TAFE course suited to your needs.

The primary focus of TAFE courses is to provide job-ready skills to make you employable when you finish your course. 

TAFE institutions are known for their hands-on approach, focusing on experiential knowledge that you can immediately apply to real-world situations.

You may be asked to complete various practical assessments to prove you’re capable. It contrasts with higher education courses, which are typically exam-based.

All TAFE courses are accredited and delivered to a high standard by licensed registered training organisations (RTOs). Every VET qualification is nationally recognised and can be used on your CV.

Each Australian state operates its own TAFE Institute, such as TAFE Qld, TAFE NSW, TAFE WA, etc. In addition, there are hundreds of independently owned TAFE providers, such as Sage Education Australia.

The Australian Government regulates all TAFE providers under the agency, namely the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

TAFE providers offer six types of VET courses, as specified by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). 

These are:

  • Certificate I
  • Certificate II
  • Certificate III
  • Certificate IV
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma

Some providers also deliver foundational courses.

What are Nationally Recognised courses, and who can deliver them?

The Nationally Recognised courses are the courses listed on a government database. Also, RTOs can deliver Nationally Recognised courses.

You can access information about these courses and training providers on training.gov.au.

The website provides a range of information such as course codes and names, units, contact details of the provider, courses it offers, course locations and restrictions imposed on the provider by the regulator for any non-compliances.

Each nationally recognised course has a specific code and name. Upon completion, the data is recorded against your Unique Student Identification (USI).

What is a private education provider?

Private education providers (also known as private colleges) are privately owned institutes offering everything from higher education studies (Bachelor’s degrees/Postgraduate degrees) to VET courses (Certificates and Diplomas).

These colleges are usually much smaller than traditional universities and offer a more niche range of courses. TAFE and private education institutes are classified as registered training organisations (RTO).

Some private colleges specialise in one industry, such as business, information and technology, engineering or education.

It could also be tied to a specific belief system, such as Christianity or Islam. It makes private providers an excellent place to meet like-minded people who share common goals, career aspirations, or beliefs.

Many private colleges are campus-based. However, some may allow you to complete your qualifications online.

Private institutes can offer a full range of training programs, including:

  • Certificate I
  • Certificate II
  • Certificate III
  • Certificate IV
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Postgraduate Diploma

Which education provider is right for me?

There is no right or wrong choice when choosing your education provider. What matters is your preferred learning style, schedule, and the outcome you want to achieve from your training.

Both Government and private education providers offer nationally accredited VET courses, so regardless of your decision, you can be confident you’re getting an education that employers recognise.

According to NCVER (a research agency) data, private education providers have far better course completion and employment outcomes than state-run providers. 

If you’re trying to decide which option is best for you, consider some of the core benefits of each study mode.

Some of the benefits of studying with a TAFE institute include:

  • Better infrastructure 
  • Broad course offering
  • Meeting people from all walks of life
  • Better networking opportunities

In contrast, some of the benefits of studying at a private college include:

  • Specialised course offering
  • Flexibility
  • Higher student satisfaction rate
  • More likely to meet like-minded people
  • Job-ready qualifications designed to launch your career
  • Typically smaller classes

Deciding which route is best for you can be challenging. If you’d like to get in touch and discuss your options in more detail, contact one of our helpful advisers here.

Why should I study with Sage Education?

Sage Education is one of Australia’s leading providers of accredited VET courses in the child care, aged care, disability and community services sectors. 

Since our launch in 1998, we’ve helped over 3000 graduates build valuable skills, develop practical expertise and start rewarding careers in well-paid industries.

What sets us apart from the rest? 

We go above and beyond for each of our clients and aim to secure all graduates relevant jobs within three months of completing their training.

We have strong connections with top employers in the care industry.

Our partners actively seek out our graduates because they trust our training programs and know our candidates have the practical expertise to succeed in the real world.

Graduates from some of our courses, such as our renowned Certificate III in Early Childhood and Care course, typically secure relevant jobs with an average starting salary of $50-60k per annum, as per seek.

Want to learn more about the courses we offer? Get in touch today. One of our advisers will be happy to discuss options, provide valuable advice and answer any questions you may have.

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