Is going to TAFE instead of university still stigmatised?

Mortarboard graduation hat
Image: iStock

Some Queensland and New South Wales universities have come under fire for allowing teaching applicants with a dramatically low ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).

ATAR scores of students that have been allegedly accepted into teaching courses has been as low as 17.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, exclaimed that these revelations set off  ‘alarm bells’.

Hearing and reading about this made me wonder whether paths other than university or being a mature – aged student (over twenty – one), is getting a bad rap again.

From the time I was in Year 10 in 2005, TAFE was becoming  seen as a reputable alternative to university. University pathways and using credits from TAFE was also being seen as a legitimate education and career path. Is that still the case, or are students pressured into thinking that university straight out of school is the only way?


I’ve got something to say to students who may have been told that message – university straight out of school is NOT the only way. TAFE is a reputable option. Being a mature – aged student isn’t aomething to be ashamed of. Working and travelling is another good path that many young people take. You don’t have to jump straight into a three or four year degree atraight away if your not ready. Allow yourself to grow, explore, gain real – world experience.

I went to TAFE a year after I left school and did Certificate II in Business Adminostration. I also did some volunteer work at a disability transport service in admin, at a preschool and a solicitors’ office (again, doing admin tasks). These experiences after school, among others (i.e. participating in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp in 2015), made me who I am today. All these experiences allowed me to grow as a person.

TAFE courses (when properly funded and maintained by the government, of course), offer valuable skills and knowledge in the relevant field. A fee years ago, I attempted to do the Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and there was great information about the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and other frameworks that encompassed the National Quality Framework/ National Quality Standards. If I completed that course, I could have gotten credits if I wanted to do the Bachelor in Early Childhood Education. Could an aspiring future primary school teacher study early childhood first, gain experience and go in  as a mature age student? It’d help, wouldn’t it?

Also, what does this ATAR controversy say about teaching? Yes, it’s undervalued. Teachers often have to deal with so much, through both government expectations and parental demands. Too often, teachers perform tasks that are really beyond their role, like providing breakfast for students. Too many teachers are bombarded with bureaucratic red tape, so much so, that it can take away from the joy many teachers get in seeing students learn and grow.


To me this issue goes way beyond ATAR scores and what’s needed to become a teacher (either Bachelor or Master’s degree). I think what we really need is an overhaul in the way we view education. We need to value our teachers and allow them to perform the duties they are trained to do. Then, maybe some universities may require students have decent marks to be able to get in.



Liked it? Take a second to support Sara Harnetty on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

Leave a Reply