Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses provide students with the practical and technical skills needed in the workplace. They include certificates l to IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas, and are offered by TAFE institutes, private colleges and organisations, and universities that teach both VET and higher education courses. If you’re researching your Australian study options, we help you narrow down your choices by listing the benefits of VET study for international students.
- It’s typically more hands-on than higher education: The main focus of VET courses is to provide practical skills. This means that they are generally more ‘hands-on’ than higher education courses, which tend to have a greater focus on theory. So, if you are studying cooking, you will spend your time cooking, baking cakes and trying out new techniques — not just reading about cooking. Assessment requires you to achieve certain competencies to show you have mastered skills, instead of completing essays and exams like students do in the higher education sector. If you want to know what pathways are available to get into the career you are interested in, you can read about popular fields of study in Careers in Australia, which will help you determine if you need to study at VET or degree level (note that some occupations require a bachelor degree as a minimum).
- It usually has easier entry requirements: If you don’t think you can get into a higher education course, a VET pathway may be for you. VET courses are generally easier to get into, usually requiring a level of study equivalent to the Australian Year 10, 11 or 12. On the other hand, higher education courses generally require Year 12 and, in some cases, subject prerequisites or ‘assumed knowledge’ in an area related to the course (mathematics for engineering, for example).
- It can offer a pathway into the higher education sector: The Australian Qualifications Framework sets a national standard for qualifications and allows students to move up the qualifications ladder with ease. This means that completing a VET course can offer another way into higher education, often with credit (which is awarded through Recognition of Prior Learning schemes). Speak to course advisers at institutions you are interested in about pathways between VET and higher education.
- It allows you to sample an area of study before enrolling in a degree: If you’re unsure whether a field of study is suited to your interests or career goals, a shorter VET qualification allows you to sample the field before starting a three-year degree. It is a good way to see if the field is the right choice for you. This type of study can also help you find an area that you’d like to specialise in — perhaps your design course will help you realise that your passion is in animation or you’ll complete a business course that leads you to apply for an accounting degree.
- It helps you to get used to the Australian education system: The Australian education system may be different to what you are used to in your home country. For example, you might find it hard to adjust to the style of teaching or the fewer number of teaching hours, as well as the need for independent study. Completing a lower-level VET qualification is a great way to ease yourself into study before starting a degree. It also gives you time to get used to your new home and begin making friends.