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Types of institutions

There’s a lot of choice involved when you decide to pursue tertiary study, such as which course interests you and which study mode will best fit your lifestyle, just to name a couple. But what about choosing the type of education provider? Each institution is unique and you can be certain that each will deliver your chosen course in a different way and with a distinctive flavour.

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In this section we discuss the following:

The three types of tertiary institutions

How to choose an institution and campus

The type of institution you choose will depend largely on whether you want to study a higher education course or a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course, but it will also be influenced by the style in which you would like your course to be taught.

While each individual institution is unique, they do share similarities according to their type. For some prospective students, the choice to go to university is an obvious one, as entry into many professions (medicine and architecture, for example) requires a higher education degree that is only offered by universities. Other fields (such as hospitality and creative arts) are offered at all three institution types, and your selection will depend on the level of qualification you wish to gain and your preferred learning style.

You will find that there is some overlap in the qualifications that each institution type offers. For instance, while universities are known for offering higher education degrees with an academic focus, some also offer VET qualifications through a TAFE department. Likewise, while TAFE institutes are traditionally the providers of VET certificates and diplomas, apprenticeships and traineeships, many are branching out to offer higher education degrees with a vocational emphasis. Private providers, on the other hand, may offer vocational education, higher education or a mix of both, and typically specialise in a particular field of study or ethos (a performing arts college or a Christian institution, for example).