Yes! You can study a TAFE course free of charge in 2023

With limited intakes and probable high demand, interested students should apply quickly.

The new year is always a good time to review your career goals and do a personal skills audit. Are you where you want to be? Is it time to up-skill in your specialism or retrain to transition into a new career that really makes your heart sing?

In a rare opportunity, TAFE colleges around the country are offering hundreds of courses to new students with heavily discounted fees, and many are absolutely free of charge. Yes, you really can enrol in a TAFE course with no fees and no looming student debt.

This program is a joint initiative of the federal and state governments for people wanting to train, retrain, or up-skill. It includes qualifications from certificates to diplomas that align with each  state’s priority industry growth sectors. And while many of the courses are in fields such as building and construction, automotive, community services and agriculture, there are also plenty of courses on offer in the arts.

TAFE is keen to emphasise that these are the same, high-quality training courses that you would receive if paying the full fee. And, as they say, this means students can fully focus on their studies and not their finances.

ArtsHub takes a look at TAFE colleges around the country to see what’s available for the creative industries under the fee-free initiative. Here are a few suggestions to whet your appetite:


The Diploma of Event Management is a key qualification for anyone interested in organising major events, conferences and festivals. This comprehensive course will show you how to be part of the new wave of event production professionals, skilled at designing and delivering virtual, hybrid and face-to-face events. It’s a nationally recognised qualification and can be studied on campus, online or in the very popular blended mode. And it’s available at 11 locations across NSW.

If music and sound production are your passion, this the time for you to up-skill with a huge range of courses on offer. There are 16 Certificate courses, 12 Diplomas and four Advanced Diplomas covering everything from music composition to make-up and costumes, and the business side of the music industry.

There’s also a big choice in arts and design with courses including interior design, graphic arts and printing, and photography and digital imaging. There are two Certificate IV courses in arts and cultural administration that would be a great place to start if you’re keen on a career in museum and gallery management.

And in one that could be a nice surprise package, there’s a Certificate III in millinery, a great option  for stage and screen costumiers, and dedicated fashionistas. So if you’ve always dreamed of being the next big thing in hats, like Philip Treacy, milliner to royalty and the stars, this could be your top choice.


Unfortunately, there are not many fee-free courses in the arts for students in Victoria. However, the Certificate II in Printing and Graphic Arts covers the basics of design concepts, screen printing and digital imaging. It’s available at Frankston, Chadstone and West Wodonga colleges.


There’s a much wider range of creative courses on offer in Queensland from the Certificate III in visual arts, also available with a photography major, to a Diploma in music with a major in performance or sound production. With 11 courses on offer across the arts, you may find something good here to kick-start your new career.


In South Australia, TAFE SA is offering over 100 fee-free qualifications and skills sets across a range of industries with 12,500 student places available. Of these free courses, nine are in the creative industries, including graphic design and print media, interior design, music and sound production, screen and media, technical production and visual arts.

There are also a few courses in other areas that could be of interest to people in the creative industries including event management, travel and tourism, and project management.


Many TAFE courses in the NT are actually delivered by Charles Darwin University as the territory’s largest training provider. It has four fee-free courses on offer in the arts, including Certificates III and IV in music, the Certificate IV in live production and technical services and the Certificate IV in visual arts. The Certificate III in entrepreneurship and new business, and the courses in leadership and management could also be good additions to a creative industries CV, especially if you’re interested in administration and management or running your own business.

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Looking elsewhere

Unfortunately there is little available for students in WA and Tasmania under this scheme, although new courses could be added, so it may be worthwhile to check back with your local TAFE.

In the ACT, the Canberra Institute of Technology has a few short courses for the creative industries currently available with no fees. These include camera skills for screen, editing for screen, preparatory skill set for professional graphic design practice, skills for creative thinking, and content writing for media.

The basics

Each TAFE website has full details of the courses on offer and easy-to-follow application guidelines. These fee-free courses are for domestic students only and you must apply before 1 March 2023. (Keep in mind many courses have mid-year intakes too.)

And while TAFE says that everyone is welcome to apply for these free courses, it is strongly encouraging people from the following groups to apply: First Nations, the LGBTIQA+ community, veterans, job seekers, young people, unpaid carers, women in non-traditional fields, those living with a disability, those who are eligible for certain visa sub classes, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Interstate applications are generally not accepted, so you must live in the state where you want to study. These free courses are likely to be in high demand, and intakes are limited, so there’s no time to waste! Start polishing up your CV and get your application in now.

Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.