Record number of nurses in Free TAFE pipeline

  • The next generation of nurses have kick started training today, studying the Diploma of Nursing at TAFE Queensland, Central Queensland University and Mater Education.
  • Students enrolled in Diploma of Nursing can expect to go onto exciting careers, serving on the frontline in Queensland hospitals and strengthening the priority health industry.
  • The Diploma of Nursing is offered for free by the Queensland Government, which will save students almost $25,000

More than 1,400 students have enrolled in a Diploma of Nursing for free in 2024 – including more than 200 at the TAFE Queensland South Bank campus.

Premier Steven Miles today joined Skills Minister Lance McCallum to welcome the first cohort for 2024 – the largest seen at TAFE statewide.

The Diploma of Nursing at TAFE allows students to get a headstart in healthcare at world class facilities, including simulated nursing rooms that replicating a real-life hospital setting equipped with the latest technology and advanced training products.

This initative is fully funded by the Miles Labor Government through an investment of up to $87.5 million to support 3,500 training places.

The Diploma of Nursing is offered for free in addition to the jointly funded Fee-Free TAFE program.

Free TAFE offers tuition-free courses to Queenslanders wanting to train, retrain or upskill in priority industries.

For 2024, 74 courses have been identified as priority areas including aged care, disability support, child care, tourism, agriculture and cyber security.

Priority groups for Fee-Free TAFE include young people aged 17-24 years, First Nations people, people who have experienced unemployment, unpaid carers, women facing economic insecurity, women undertaking study in non-traditional fields, and people with a disability.

Industry priorities being delivered under Fee-Free TAFE are based on advice from Queensland’s network of Industry Skills Advisors, industry peaks and Jobs Queensland’s Anticipating Future Skills projections.

For a full list of Fee-Free TAFE courses and qualifications available from 1 January 2024, please visit

Quotes attributable to Premier Steven Miles:

“Free TAFE is changing lives.

“It is a legacy of our government and has now become a staple training program nationwide.

“The Diploma of Nursing was one of the most popular free TAFE courses offered last year, which is why my government is fully funding its continuation in 2024.

“There are 3,500 places available this year, which will save students over $84 million in tuition fees.

“I firmly believe that Queenslanders should have access to priority skilling for free so they can get good secure jobs in those in-demand industries.

“So we will keep investing in improving TAFE campuses and put money on the table to continue offering free TAFE for years to come.

“I want to wish all our TAFE students the very best – it is going to be bigger and better than ever.”

Quotes attributed to Minister for Training and Skills Development Lance McCallum:

“By removing cost barriers, we have opened the door so many more Queenslanders can now pursue a career in the field of their choosing.

“Last year, more than 66,000 Queenslanders embraced the golden opportunity that is Free TAFE to gain new skills and find a job, or to upskill and change careers.

“That includes 3,100 students who started their Diploma of Nursing in 2023.

“Today, students studying a Diploma of Nursing for free in 2024 at the South Bank campus got their first taste of what’s to come for the year ahead – meeting with teachers and other students and touring the outstanding facilities at the campus.

“While these students will save over $24,000 in study fees, all Queenslanders will benefit from their service – contributing to a stronger, more responsive health system.

“Across the board, more than 43,000 Free TAFE places will be available for Queenslanders over the next three years as part of a $170 million joint investment.

“That includes in courses like Cyber Security. Just last week I was in Cairns to officially open the new $2.5 million Cyber Security Training Facility we’ve built, which will allow Cyber Security students from the regions to study and work at home for the first time.

“It’s facilities like this that we will continue to deliver so Queensland students have the very best training ground – equipping them with the skills they need for the real world.

Additional information:

Fee-Free TAFE

  • Nationally, the Australian Government will fund an additional 300,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education places over three years starting in 2024 – delivered in partnership with states and territories.
  • $85 million over three years will be provided by the Australian Government while the Queensland Government’s contribution will at least match the Commonwealth’s $85 million investment – to deliver 43,400 fee-free training places in Queensland across the three years of the agreement.
  • Students who hold or have previously completed a funded qualification are eligible to enrol in Fee-Free TAFE to gain new skills or enhance their existing skills. However, students can only complete one Fee-Free TAFE qualification.
  • The courses and qualifications offered as part of this Fee-Free TAFE program aim to address demand for skills and long-term workforce planning aligned with the Queensland Government’s Good People. Good Jobs. Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022-32.
  • The mix of qualifications and short courses available through Fee-Free TAFE from 2024 over three years provide for upskilling in traditional sectors, as well as investment in growing, diversifying and building new industries.

Free Diploma of Nursing

  • In an $87.5 million boost to the Fee Free TAFE program, 3,500 Diploma of Nursing placements will be available for free in 2024.
  • Recent Jobs Queensland’s data shows the Health Care and Social Assistance industry is expected to grow by 16.4 per cent by 2025-26.

About South Bank TAFE campus

  • There are more than 7000 students enrolled in training at the TAFE Queensland South Bank campus in 2024 – including 2,000 enrolled in Fee Free TAFE courses and 203 commencing a Diploma of Nursing.
  • The South Bank campus is located over four hectares and is one of TAFE Queensland’s premier training facilities.
  • The campus offers a comprehensive range of study areas beyond the health sector – everything from beauty and hairdressing to building design and civil engineering.
  • From 2017-18 to 2022-23, the Queensland Government has invested over $288 million in building new and upgrading existing training facilities across the state, including around $47.2 million in the Metro region.

/Public Release. View in full here.