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TAFE Tops for Practicality and Flexibility

Sep 3, 2008
University or TAFE? It is the great debate of higher education in Australia -- an increasingly complex and sometimes difficult choice to make when deciding which direction to head for further studies.

When it comes to practicality, TAFE is often more popular than university with students spending more time on campus in studios than lecture theatres.

21-year-old Mariana Fataccioli studied a year of creative industries at university before changing to a Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology at Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (MSIT). She has found the practicality of the course more suited to her career goal of creating her own line of clothing.

"University was more design and conceptual based. Although uni teaches sewing and pattern making, TAFE takes this learning a step further and I now have the skills to pattern make, grade, and sew my own creations," Mariana said.

"I've just finished making 16 garments all by myself for an upcoming Young Designers market and it's so satisfying to have ownership of these from design right through to creation.

Mariana's course involves a lot more hands on work, which she feels makes TAFE more like the workplace -- but in a supportive learning environment -- adequately preparing her for life after study.

TAFE teacher Chris Twine says most classes have an intended practical focus. Fashion classes, for example, range from four hour design classes, to five hour sewing classes, to two hour computer classes, and two hour textile classes.

"Students are at college four days a week where they get individual help and share a classroom with around 20 other students," Ms Twine said.

"The intimacy of the classes enables you to receive a great deal more support and you also get to build a rapport with the teachers and your peers," Mariana said.

"When your teachers come directly from industry professions, the relationships you develop with them become such a valuable tool for when you finish your studies," she said.

"You instantly connect with them because they've been down the same road and made the same mistakes as you have," she said.

Although university and TAFE both have the expertise to deliver lessons regardless of geographical location, TAFE has the flexibility to individually tailor courses around lifestyle commitments, offering self-paced and accelerated learning options. It's also popular for its links with industry and its wide range of courses -- designed to meet labor market demands.

While both TAFE and university offer a valuable and advantageous pathway to an exciting career, certain courses and subjects are sometimes better suited to either a university or TAFE education. TAFE institutes give students practical know-how by putting them in real-world industry settings -- operating on-campus working restaurants, salons and nurseries that are open to the public.
About the Author
Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (MSIT) offers a range of certificate courses, business courses , and apprenticeships in Queensland for local & international students.
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