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TAFE NSW has long been at the cutting edge of providing flexible learning

It's easy to forget that not so long ago, enrolling for study meant committing to being at a certain location at certain times and adhering to a rigid schedule of assignment deadlines and exams. In contrast, students these days need to think carefully about the following issues when determining what skills and qualifications they want to acquire.

Where to study

Tertiary education in Australia is broadly divided into the university, TAFE and private college/training organisation sectors. All have different strengths, but universities cater for students wanting a theoretical understanding of subjects while TAFE and private colleges typically focus on practical workplace skills.

Unlike those in many other countries, Aussie students have traditionally studied close to home. However, the rise of online education means that it's now feasible to get a qualification from an educational institution anywhere in Australia and around the world. Some courses are offered completely online while others, especially if they involve hands-on skills, may involve one or more campus visits for intensive study.

What to study

There is a wide array of courses offered by tertiary education institutions and only you can decide which is the best one for you. Be aware that while the three sectors mentioned above specialise in different areas, it's not uncommon for them to all offer courses in the same field. This means, for example, someone interested in becoming a graphic designer can choose between studying at university, TAFE or a private college.

How to study

One of the positive aspects of the tertiary education sector's increasing emphasis on customer service is that it's now much more flexible with students' study requests. As well as going part-time, you may be able to do things such as temporarily suspend your studies if an unexpected crisis arises.

As it has always catered to students with demanding work (and often family) commitments, TAFE NSW has long been at the cutting edge of providing flexible learning.