TAFE courses in Australia for international students

Australia offers vocational education in the form of Technical and Further Education or TAFE. This subset of tertiary education allows students to obtain qualifications equivalent to a certificate, diploma or advanced diploma. This is a great option for those who want to kickstart a career that only looks for this entry-level requirement. There are plenty of TAFE courses in Australia for international students to choose from, each one focusing on a practical study area that’s aligned with a wide variety of jobs in the Australian market. It’s important for students to understand what’s available and to choose the one that best aligns with their goals for the future.


Understanding TAFE in Australia

TAFE is a government-run system in Australia that offers education after high school in vocational areas. It focuses on specific skills for a particular workplace. For example, a Certificate IV in Aged Care equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to work in an aged care facility or a senior’s home. Meanwhile, a Certificate IV in Dental Assisting teaches students how to take dental x-rays, allowing them to work as dental nurses for specialised dentists.

TAFE is offered at accredited TAFE institutes:

That said, blended learning options (i.e. those that combine both online and face-to-face learning) are also available, along with online courses.

TAFE vs. university

TAFE provides tertiary education like universities; however, the two educational achievements are different. For one, TAFE courses finish with certificates and diplomas only. Universities, on the other hand, award graduates with a bachelor’s degree, which is ranked higher by the Australian Qualification Framework.

TAFE courses are more focused on practical learning as their goal is to teach students technical skills that will enable them to thrive in their chosen industries. This makes TAFE an ideal choice for those who want to seamlessly transition into work placements. Meanwhile, university programs lean more heavily toward academic learning. TAFE courses also typically take between one to three years to complete, while university programs take at least three to four years to finish.

In terms of accessibility, TAFE institutes pride themselves on being accessible to more students, given their lower entry requirements and more affordable fees. Additionally, it provides international students, specifically those who have yet to achieve eligibility for a tertiary education program, a viable pathway towards university.

TAFE Qualifications

There are varying qualification levels that can be obtained through the TAFE system, including:

Certificates I–IV

The TAFE certificate courses provide introductory skills and training. They help students gain the basic knowledge and skills needed for specific jobs and industries. These vary in length from anywhere between six months to two years.


Diploma courses are short programs that prepare students for industry, enterprise and paraprofessional careers. They’re a great credential for those who want to quickly get a job or those who want to advance in their career track.

Advanced diploma

Advanced diplomas provide high-level practical skills for advanced work in areas like business and engineering. These credentials may be comparable to university-level education but only take one to two years to complete full-time.

Vocational graduate diploma or certificate

Vocational graduate diplomas or certificates are the equivalent of tertiary graduate diplomas or certificates. They provide high-level employment-related skills and knowledge in just one to two years of full-time study for diplomas or six months to a year of full-time study for certificates.

Other programs

While TAFE is generally focused on vocational education, institutes have recently started offering higher education programs like bachelor’s degrees. Some also offer English language courses.


TAFE courses in Australia for international students

International students can choose from multiple courses in the following general areas of study:

  • aboriginal cultures and education
  • accounting and finance
  • animal care and horse industry
  • arts
  • automotive
  • aviation and aircraft maintenance
  • building, construction and trades
  • business and marketing
  • carpentry, joinery and furniture
  • civil construction and surveying
  • community and youth services
  • design and media
  • education and training
  • electrotechnology
  • engineering
  • environment and sustainability
  • farming and primary production
  • fashion
  • food and hospitality
  • government, library and legal services
  • hair and beauty
  • healthcare
  • horticulture
  • information and communication technology
  • laboratory science
  • languages and translation
  • maritime
  • mining and resources
  • music and production
  • property services
  • sales and retail
  • sport and recreation
  • study and career pathways
  • tourism and events
  • trade and logistics.


Learn more about TAFE with GSP

TAFE courses are a great entryway for international students looking to advance into higher education in Australia or gain practical education and skills to kickstart vocational careers. Learn more about TAFE by connecting with one of our business development experts.

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