The 1960s saw a push to enable technical schools to provide higher level diploma courses. Not everyone agreed that vocational education institutions should offer higher education. Malcolm Fraser, the Commonwealth Minister for Education, thought colleges should remain distinct from universities, “... if colleges...attempt to ape the universities, you will again be narrowing the opportunities of those leaving school – instead of adding additional niches you will be demolishing them”.
The first 33 diploma students at Preston graduated in 1964. The college leadership was already looking forward to the day when it could offer degree level courses, something that finally occurred in 2006 with the introduction of the Bachelor of Aquaculture and Environmental Management degree at NMIT.
Collingwood Technical School made several attempts during this period to receive Education Department approval to conduct diploma level courses, in line with the developing trends in the wider sector, but each time it was knocked back. This meant that students had to leave Collingwood in order to complete their education, losing the continuity offered by a familiar educational environment.