Universities vs. TAFES vs. Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)

You might be a student who has recently graduated from Year 12 or an adult who’s already working full-time but looking to upgrade your skills and knowledge – or maybe you’re even contemplating a complete change in career. Or perhaps you’re simply looking to step back into the game after taking a break.

Irrespective of your background and age, here in Australia you always have the opportunity to undertake higher education and nationally recognised training. This allows you to study a subject of interest so you can thrive in your chosen career and secure a rewarding and well-paying job in the industry of your choice.

Higher education in Australia branches out into 3 options, giving you a plethora of study pathways to choose from. While everyone’s pathway preferences may be different, if you are determined and dedicated, the end result will still lead you to open doors and career prospects.


If you’re into research-focused education, then studying at a university might be for you. Universities are generally very large, feature lecture-style classes, and offer various pathways such as Bachelor’s degrees (undergraduate studies), Master’s degrees (graduate degrees), and Doctorate degrees (postgraduate degrees). Most undergraduate degree courses can be completed in about three years, while the duration of graduate and postgraduate degrees will vary according to your subject of study.

Universities have a more academic focus, with heavy emphasis on essay-writing and exams. This is best suited to those who would like a much deeper knowledge of a field, as well as qualifications that will set them up for professional roles. For careers in law, medicine, engineering and education, a university degree is a necessity.

At present, there are approximately 39 universities across Australia offering a range of study pathways.

University Graduate



Technical and Further Education (TAFE) in Australia is a government-owned and nationally operated system of colleges offering nationally recognised training and qualifications that may be transferable internationally. They are currently the biggest education and training providers in the country, offering an endless range of vocational qualifications including certificate courses (Certificate I to IV), Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses, and even Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas. They also provide various apprenticeships and traineeships.

Although vocational courses are not as in-depth and academic-focused as university-level studies, they are good to begin with. This is because the focus in TAFE is on hands-on, practical training, with key competencies worked into every course. Vocational courses offer nationally recognised training that is an alternative learning pathway, paving the way for university qualifications later down the road.

Here in Victoria, as opposed to the other states, there is no such thing as ‘TAFE Victoria’. Whilst other states have an institution that combines all TAFEs underneath one roof, each TAFE institute in Victoria enjoys an independent status and is only marginally controlled by our state regulator, the Victoria Registrations and Qualifications Authority.

TAFE Students


Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)


Private training providers, or Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), are vocational education organisations that provide students with nationally recognised training services (VET or Vocational Education and Training). These training services can lead to qualifications and statements of attainment that are nationally recognised by industry and mutually accepted by other educational institutions throughout Australia.

Only RTOs that are officially registered with the Department of Education and Training can deliver accredited training and assessment from Certificate level to Graduate Diploma level courses, as nominated by various Training Packages. Qualifications must then be issued under the guidelines of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). A registered training organisation must also demonstrate ongoing compliance with a set of national standards to assure nationally consistent, high-quality training and assessment services. This is audited by either the national or their state VET Regulator.

Similar to TAFEs, RTOs provide quality nationally recognised training for courses that are developed in consultation with business and industry to ensure the skills are relevant and in demand. Upon successful completion of your course, you will be issued with a nationally recognised qualification that will set you apart from others in the job sector or market because it has taken into consideration the industry’s nature, practices and current standards.

Most registered training organisations tend to be even smaller in size than TAFEs and are dedicated to training and assessment for specific industries, specialising in one or two main areas. Depending on the training package and matriculation agreement, credit obtained from course units can also be used to gain university entrance – yet another learning pathway!

Both RTOs and TAFEs can work as an effective launching pad for those who prefer to take ‘baby steps’ in gaining a basic understanding of a topic – like getting to know the fundamentals of a job and learning the rudimentary skills so that you will find it easier to work. Because of the practical components, vocational training at registered training organisations and TAFEs offers complete 360-degree development of the student.

Courses at RTOs and TAFEs are right for you if you have need for the following:


Suzan Johnston Australia – A Trusted and Reputable RTO for 23 Years

Suzan Johnston Australia is a fully registered training organisation (RTO) since 1993 and has been contracted to deliver government funded courses under the Victorian Training Guarantee since 2009.

Our nationally accredited training courses currently include:

Nationally recognised business courses consisting of the Certificate II in Business and Certificate III in Business Administration courses

Nationally recognised Certificate III in Travel course.

Vanessa in action - Business Admin Course trainer


Want More Information About Our Nationally Recognised Courses?

For more information about our Registered Training Organisation (RTO) or the nationally recognised training and government funded courses we have on offer, please call us on (03) 9654 0999 to speak with one of our friendly consultants.