Vocational Trade School or University - Which Is for You?

Many people around the world are engaged in vocational education and training as well as university level courses. However, when enrolling into a training program it is important to consider which medium of higher education is right for you. There are many differences between university and vocational education and training. Below these differences are outlined for your convenience.


    Involves degrees, honours, masters and doctorate level courses and some universities offer associates degrees as a bridge between vocational education and university courses
    Based on theoretical learning
    Generally gives students access to professions that require formal qualifications (teachers, doctors, psychologists, lawyers)

    Usually between three and 6 years, depending on course structure
    Consists of lectures, labs and tutorials
    Lectures generally are over 100 students, tutorials refined to about 30 students
    You must have completed your high school diploma or as a mature aged student pass some other form of test
    Generally students attend full-time but there is the option to study-part time or via correspondence
    University prompts students to analyse and solve particular problems within their field of study to show understanding
    Assignments and exams are graded usually on a scale of pass, credit, distinction and high distinction
    University degrees can lead to honours courses and master's degrees
    Classes are specifically set to certain days and hours and it is your responsibility to turn up, no one will force you to be there
    You must take initiative to study extra hours and do your homework
    Less structured learning environment

Vocational Trade School (VET Courses, Registered Training Organisations)

    Involves Certificate I, II, III, IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma training courses
    More practical based learning
    Professions like electricians, hair dressers, personal trainers, beauty therapists, chefs
    Vocational education courses can run from 6 months up to 24 months or perhaps longer depending on the qualification level
    Apprenticeships and trainee-ships are available
    There is often no pre-requisite for entry-level qualifications, just the necessary English skills
    Vocational education is graded on a competent or not competent scale (students are not segregated into abilities)
    Many contact hours, usually going every week day
    Smaller class sizes and more contact with teachers
    The skills taught in vocational education and training courses are directly transferable to the workplace and improve employability
    Lots of structure within the learning environment

There are many pathways between the two and it is important to recognise what career path you are after to make the right decision.

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