In Australia, technical and further education or TAFE institutions provide a wide range of predominantly vocational courses, mostly qualifying courses under the National Training System/Australian Qualifications Framework/Australian Quality Training Framework. Fields covered include business, finance, hospitality, tourism, construction, engineering, visual arts, information technology and community work.
Individual TAFE institutions (usually with numerous campuses) are known as either colleges or institutes, depending on the state or territory. TAFE colleges are owned, operated and financed by the various state and territory governments. This is in contrast to the university sector, whose funding is predominantly the domain of the federal government and whose universities are predominantly owned by the state governments.
TAFE colleges award Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications accredited in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector that align to Certificate I, Certificate II, Certificate III, Certificate IV, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma qualifications. In many instances, TAFE study at a Diploma or above level can be used as partial credit towards bachelor's degree-level university programs.
From 2002 the TAFE education sector has been able to offer bachelor's degrees and post-graduate diploma courses to fill niche areas, particularly vocationally focused areas of study based on industry needs. As at June 2009 10 TAFE colleges (mainly in New South Wales, Victoria, but also Western Australia, ACT, and Queensland) now confer their own degree-level awards and post graduate diplomas, though initially not beyond the level of bachelor's degree. However Melbourne Polytechnic has been accredited in 2015 to offer two master's degree courses. Similarly, some universities (e.g., Charles Darwin University and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) offer vocational education courses (traditionally the domain of TAFE); these are funded by the local state and territory governments. Some high schools also deliver courses developed and accredited by TAFEs.
Students who enrol in these undergraduate degree courses at TAFE are required to pay full fees and are not entitled to Commonwealth Government supported student fee loans, known as HECS loans, but may access a FEE-HELP loan scheme. While Universities have the ability and power to design and offer their own degree courses, each TAFE degree course must be assessed and approved by the Higher Education Accreditation Committee (HEAC).
TAFEs in some states can also teach senior high school qualifications, like the Victorian Certificate of Education, Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning, and the Higher School Certificate. Some universities, e.g. Charles Darwin University and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, offer TAFE courses; these are funded by the local state and territory governments. Some high schools also deliver courses developed and accredited by TAFEs.
Some private institutions also offer courses from TAFEs, however they more commonly offer other vocational education and training courses. Many Australians refer to all sub-degree courses as "TAFE" courses, no matter what institution creates or delivers the course. Before the 1990s, the TAFEs had a near monopoly in the sector. TAFE courses provide students an opportunity for certificate, diploma, and advanced diploma qualifications in a wide range of areas.
In most cases, TAFE campuses are grouped into TAFE institutions or institutes along geographic lines. Most TAFEs are given a locally recognised region of the country where they exclusively operate covering a wide range of subjects.
A few TAFEs specialise in a single area of study. These are usually found near the middle of the capital cities, and they service the whole state or territory. For example, the Trade and Technician Skills Institute in Brisbane, from 1 July 2006, has specialised in automotive, building and construction, manufacturing and engineering, and electrical/electronic studies for students throughout Queensland and the William Angliss Institute of TAFE in Melbourne has specialised in food, hospitality and tourism courses for Victoria.
In the Australian Capital Territory, these include:
In the Northern Territory, these include:
As of May 2014, the TAFE institutes have amalgamated into six regions of the central TAFE Queensland (parent body). The regions of TAFE Queensland are:
And as of the 1st of July 2014, Central Queensland TAFE (branded as CQ TAFE) was merged into Central Queensland University (branded as CQUniversity) to create Queensland's first dual sector university.
In South Australia:
In Tasmania, there are two government TAFE organisations:
In Victoria these include:
In Western Australia, this includes: