Australia's tertiary education system includes universities and vocational education.
Once students have graduated from secondary school - on completion of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) - students can elect to enrol in university or vocational education and training.
Vocational education trains you in practical, job-specific skills rather than giving you an academic education as a university typically does. A university education is a long term investment in your future.
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Victoria is renowned for its world-class universities and vocational education. Victoria has the highest university participation and graduation rates in the Asian region.
Higher education in Victoria's universities is offered at two levels: undergraduate and postgraduate. Most courses are offered both full-time and part-time.
There are nine public universities in Victoria - four of which are dual-sector institutions, with both a university and a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) division.
The main universities in Victoria are:
The basic undergraduate course at university is a bachelor degree, which is completed in three to four years full-time. Students can then go on to postgraduate and master's degrees or doctorates.
Fees vary according to the course of study. Local undergraduate students are eligible for places that are primarily funded by the Australian Government - the student makes a partial contribution, which can be paid upfront or deferred and repaid once a student graduates and their income passes a minimum repayment threshold.
To be eligible for a Commonwealth funded place in university or TAFE you have to be a permanent resident of Australia. If you are a temporary resident, you and your dependants will not be eligible and must apply as a full-fee paying international student.
In Victoria, vocational education and training consists of 18 public TAFE institutions (including four dual-sector universities) and over 1300 private Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers.
Adults who wish to return to school can do so at a vocational college.
VET is a national system that trains people in particular industries such as plumbing and retail, through practical training and apprenticeships. Victoria's VET system includes public TAFE institutions, adult community education and private VET providers.
TAFE is Victoria's largest post-secondary education and training provider. It provides job-specific training and further education in a wide range of occupations and levels across industries. Graduates can receive nationally recognised qualifications for over 1400 accredited courses.
Entry requirements for TAFE courses vary. Many TAFE courses require satisfactory completion of VCE (Year 12 of secondary school), while others accept school leavers who have completed Year 10 or 11, as well as mature-age students. Some courses do not have any specific educational conditions.
Some universities also offer TAFE courses. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Victoria University of Technology (VUT) and Swinburne University all have TAFE sectors.
Fees and charges for training and further education depend on whether a course is offered on a fee-for-service basis or supported by the government.
The academic year in Australian universities normally runs from early March to late November. Some courses have a mid-year enrolment.
TAFE courses normally run from February to December and may accept students during the year.
Applications for most courses can be made directly to the institution or training provider or to the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). To find out how to apply for a specific course, you will need to contact each provider you are interested in attending.
If you are a VCE student (Year 12 of secondary school) or you have completed your VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) you usually apply through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). VTAC Guides are available from your local newsagent from July each year.
Visit the VTAC website for more information about applying, entry requirements, courses, and institutions.