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University, TAFE and private colleges | Tackling tertiary options for your child

From university to TAFE, private colleges and more, there are so many different paths your child can take after they finish school. No one path is better than the others – it's all about choosing the option that’s best for your child.  

As you get the conversation started with your child, it’s helpful to have all the options in front of you. Here’s what you need to know about university, TAFE and private colleges, and how it may affect your child’s choices in those final years of school.  


University is a popular choice for high school leavers - 39.7% of 25 – 34-year-olds have a Bachelor degree or higher. University programs focus on developing both academic and job-ready skills, and entry requires a minimum ATAR requirement which varies by program and institution. Depending on the program, a single bachelor’s degree usually takes between 3 – 4 years – or 2 – 3 years if you’re studying at a university with an accelerated timetable, like Bond.  


  • Entry to university requires an ATAR  
  • Some programs may require pre-requisite ATAR subjects  
  • Typically takes between 3 – 5 years (less with an accelerated timetable) 
  • FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP available  


TAFE is another popular choice for young people looking to upskill before they enter the workforce. Entry to a Diploma through TAFE typically doesn’t require an ATAR and learning is more hands-on and practical skills-based than your traditional academic path. Most diploma courses take between 1 – 2 years to complete full-time, and some courses can provide a pathway into university study. For students considering a career in a trade, TAFE could be the best path for them.  


  • Technical skills based
  • Entry does not require an ATAR 
  • Can be a pathway to university study  
  • FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP may be available 
  • Typically takes between 1 – 2 years 

Private colleges

Private colleges vary, but often specialise in a particular field of study, for example, beauty therapy, natural health or hospitality. They may offer VET courses (similar to TAFE) or undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, depending on the college, and programs may be structured differently to university courses.  


  • Private colleges specialise in a particular discipline  
  • FEE-HELP may be available  
  • Entry may or may not require an ATAR, depending on the program 
  • Duration and course structure may vary depending on the program

There you have it – the different tertiary options available to your child. Although it's a tough decision nonetheless, and one that takes time, when armed with these answers you'll be prepared to help them make it with confidence. 

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