“Like catching smoke”: Easing the transition from TAFE to university

  • Iris Mary Ambrose Latrobe University - Shepparton Campus
  • Clare Cunnington La Trobe University
  • Marie Bonne
  • Kate Chanock
  • Sandra Jardine
  • Janet Muller


The development of pathways from Technical and Further Education (TAFE) into university courses is part of the effort to broaden access to higher education. From the literature on the difficulties and achievements of students who take these pathways, there is strong evidence that some, at least, need more initial support. The purposes and methods of study are different in each sector, and students often struggle with the transition. In particular, those whose TAFE studies earn them advanced placement into a degree course may be disadvantaged because of missing orientation, social immersion in a cohort, and the first semester’s induction into disciplinary cultures of enquiry. In view of this, Academic Language and Learning (ALL) staff at a large, multi-campus university researched the experience of regional students to discover what ALL could do to support them more effectively. Not all had difficulties, but many did; and their responses to a survey and focus groups pointed to a need for more targeted processes and resources, starting at TAFE and continuing through orientation and the first semester of their degree. This paper presents the students’ perspective on the transition from TAFE to university, and the initiatives with which ALL staff have responded.

Author Biography

Iris Mary Ambrose, Latrobe University - Shepparton Campus
The authors are colleagues in the Academic Language and Learning Unit of La Trobe University in Australia, whose role is to work with students and staff to enhance the development of students' academic literacies. The authors are located at the university's five Victorian campuses; Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Melbourne, Mildura and Shepparton. They are responsive to the specific needs and conditions of each local context while collaborating on common challenges.
How to Cite
AmbroseI. M., CunningtonC., BonneM., ChanockK., JardineS., & MullerJ. (2013). “Like catching smoke”: Easing the transition from TAFE to university. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 7(2), A120-A131. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/257