Login New User
     
 

Home > Why study in Australia > Australian Qualifications Framework

Australian Qualifications Framework

Australia. One country. One qualifications system

The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF links 15 school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system.

The AQF allows you to move easily from one level of study to the next, and from one institution to another as long as you satisfy student visa requirements. It allows for choice and flexibility in career planning. All qualifications in the AQF help you prepare for both further study and life in the workforce.

If you're studying an AQF qualification, you can be sure that your institution is Government-authorised and nationally accredited, and that your Degree or other AQF qualification will be genuine.

The AQF makes it easy for overseas governments to recognise your qualification. When international employers see it, they'll know what it stands for: a world-class education in a modern, democratic, and technologically advanced society.

Recognition of prior learning

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is an important part of the AQF. In simple terms, it means that if you have the skills or knowledge required for entry to, or credit towards, a qualification, but no papers as proof, you can undertake a personal assessment. If successful, you'll be granted credit toward your qualification.

While all individual institutions recognise the AQF, each has its own policy regarding RPL. You should contact your institution for more information.

The following diagram illustrates the structure of the AQF, and the typical learning pathways and links for more information—you can reach this by clicking on each qualification.

Some AQF qualifications are offered by more than one type of institution. For example:

  • both vocation education and training institutions and schools may offer vocational education and training for the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education and Certificate I-IV qualifications;
  • older students can study for their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education at a vocational education and training institution;
  • both universities and vocational education and training institutions offer Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas;
  • universities and other higher education institutions may issue Certificate I-IV qualifications; and
  • vocational education and training institutions, usually in association with universities, may offer degrees, Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas.

Study for AQF qualifications may help a student in achieving articulation into internationally-recognised certifications or accreditations. These certifications or accreditations are usually industry specific.

Further information and case studies of how AQF qualifications can help you in choosing a course of study, finding a job, changing careers or moving ahead is available at the AQF website.

Foundation Studies or Bridging courses

Most courses and training undertaken by international students entering Australia on a student visa are covered by the AQF. However, there are a number of Australian Government registered courses for international students which are not part of the AQF. These courses are usually known as Foundation Studies or Bridging courses. Many of these courses help students meet entry requirements for further study or may lead to further study that will result in a AQF qualification.

English language training courses

There are also a wide range of English language training courses which help students improve their English proficiency, meet the standard for further study, or prepare for one of several internationally-recognised English language qualifications.

Schools qualifications

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education final two years of school

Some schools also issue or give credit towards Certificates I-IV. 

School studies cover a range of academic disciplines and vocational courses which prepare you for university entry, for further training programs or to enter the workforce. The study format is a mix of directed classroom studies, extensive written assessments, formal examinations and may include common assessment tasks. Depending on course alternatives, you might also apply skills, demonstrate understandings, and undertake performance, project, group and field-work activities. 

All levels of school education are available to international students in Australia but only the post-compulsory schooling Senior Secondary Certificate of Education is part of the AQF. A select number of secondary schools prepare students to international standards including the International Baccalaureate test.

The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education is known by different titles according to the State and Territory issuing authority:

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) ACT Year 12 Certificate
New South Wales (NSW) Higher Education Certificate (HSC)
Northern Territory (NT) Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE)
Queensland (QLD) Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE)
South Australia (SA) South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
Tasmania (TAS) Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE)
Victoria (VIC) Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)
Western Australia (WA) WA Certificate of Education

return to top

Vocational education and training qualifications

The qualifications offered at vocational education and training institutions are Certificates I-IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma. They meet national industry standards and will prepare you for employment in a host of occupations or for further studies.

Certificate I 4 to 6 months
Certificate 1 prepares you to perform a defined range of routine and predictable activities. Certificate 1 applications are a variety of employment related skills including preparatory access and participation skills, broad-based induction skills, and may include specific workplace skills possibly in a team environment.

return to top

Certificate II 6 to 8 months
Certificate II provides you with the knowledge and skills to perform a range of varied activities or knowledge application in a defined range of contexts each with a clear and limited range of options. You will take some accountability for the quality of task outcomes. Applications may include some complex or non-routine activities involving individual responsibility, possibly in collaboration with others as part of a team.

return to top

Certificate III 12 months
With a Certificate III the student acquires a breadth, depth and complexity of knowledge and competencies that cover selecting, adapting and transferring knowledge and skills to new environments. You will also be capable of providing technical advice and some leadership in resolving problems in a range of environments with some complexity in the extent and choice of options available. You will be able to perform a range of skilled operations usually as part of a range of broader related activities involving known routines, methods and procedures. You will exercise some discretion and judgement in selection of equipment, services or contingency measures within time constraints. Applications may involve some responsibility for others. Participation in teams including group or team coordination may be involved.

return to top

Certificate IV 12 to 18 months
You will acquire a breadth, depth and complexity of knowledge and competencies that cover a broad range of varied activities, in a variety of contexts that are usually complex and non-routine. You are expected to be able to demonstrate leadership and guidance of yourself and others, as well as contributing to technical solutions of a non-routine or contingency nature. You will have to demonstrate performance in a broad range of skilled applications including evaluating and analysing current practices, develop new criteria and procedures for performing current practices. In addition to showing leadership and guiding others, you are expected to accept responsibility for others and demonstrate limited organisational skills.

return to top

Diploma 18 to 24 months
Some Diplomas are also offered by universities. Diploma study involves breadth, depth and complexity covering planning and initiation of alternative approaches to skills or knowledge applications across a broad range of technical and/or management requirements, evaluation and co-ordination. Diploma holders will be capable of self-directed application of knowledge and skills, with substantial depth in some areas where judgement is required in planning and selecting appropriate equipment, services and techniques. A diploma student will participate in the development of strategic initiatives and take personal responsibility and autonomy in performing complex technical operations or organising others. Participation in teams both in routine work and undertaking planning and evaluation tasks is expected. Group or team coordination may be involved.

return to top

Advanced Diploma 2 to 3 years
Some Advanced Diplomas are also offered by universities. This study involves breadth, depth and complexity involving analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation across a broad range of technical and/or management functions. Skills include developing new criteria or application or knowledge or procedures. You will learn to apply a significant range of fundamental principles and complex techniques across a wide and often unpredictable variety of contexts in relation to either varied or highly specific functions. Also involved is contributing to the development of a broad plan, budget or strategy. You will learn to be accountable and take responsibility for yourself and others in achieving outcomes.

return to top

Vocational Graduate Certificate

Some Vocational Graduate Certificates are also offered by universities.

This study involves the self-directed development and achievement of broad and/or specialised areas of knowledge and skills building on prior knowledge and skills.

It involves substantial breadth, depth and complexity including the initiation, analysis, design, planning, execution and evaluation of technical and/or management functions in highly varied and/or highly specialised contexts. Applications involve making significant, high level, independent judgements in major, broad or specialised planning, design, operational, technical and/or management functions in highly varied and/or highly specialised contexts. It may include responsibility and broad ranging accountability for the structure, management and output of the work of others and/or functions.

return to top

Vocational Graduate Diploma

Some Vocational Graduate Diplomas are also offered by universities.

This study involves the self-directed development and achievement of broad and/or specialised areas of knowledge and skills building on prior knowledge and skills.

It involves substantial breadth, depth and complexity involving the initiation, analysis, design, planning, execution and evaluation of major functions, both broad and/or highly specialised, in highly varied and/or highly specialised contexts.

Skills include making the high level, fully independent, complex judgements in broad and/or highly specialised planning, design, operational, technical and/or management functions in highly varied and/or highly specialised contexts. It may involve full responsibility and accountability for all aspects of work of others and functions including planning, budgeting and strategy.

return to top

University qualifications

The following qualifications are available at Australian universities and approved higher education providers.

Associate Degree 2 years
An Associate Degree is a two year qualification following year 12 or equivalent, or Certificate III or IV. It is a shorter higher education qualification offering an exit point at the sub-degree level, or a fully articulated pathway into the Bachelor Degree for further in-depth study and professional preparation, or articulation into an Advanced Diploma for specialist industry competencies. This study emphasises the foundational, research-based knowledge of an academic discipline, is broad-based in conceptual and theoretical content, often multi-disciplinary and develops generic employment-related skills within these discipline(s). The Associate Degree qualification is offered by universities and other self-accrediting higher education providers, and other providers including TAFEs and private VET providers, that meet specific requirements.

return to top

Bachelor Degree
Bachelor Degree (Honours)
minimum 3 years
4 years
The Bachelor degree is the fundamental university qualification and is the basic qualification for entry to the professions. Some professions may require additional vocational qualifications as a condition of entry. This study involves acquiring a systematic and coherent body of knowledge, its underlying principles and concepts, and associated problem-solving techniques. You will develop the academic skills and attitudes to comprehend and evaluate new information, concepts and evidence from a wide range of sources. You will also develop the ability to review, consolidate, extend and apply the knowledge and techniques learnt. This study usually involves major studies in an area where significant literature is available. Course content is to a significant depth and progressively developed to a high level, preparing students for further post-graduate study if desired. A Bachelor Degree with honours takes an additional year after a Bachelor Degree. Honours may also be granted where outstanding achievement is recorded in a Bachelor Degree course of four or more years.

return to top

Graduate Certificates 6 months
The Graduate Certificate typically involves broadening individual skills already gained in an undergraduate program, or developing vocational knowledge and skills in a new professional area.

return to top

Graduate Diplomas 12 months
The Graduate Diploma either broadens individual skills obtained in an undergraduate program or develops vocational knowledge and skills in a new professional area. This qualification can also be described as further specialisation within a systematic and coherent body of knowledge.

return to top

Masters Degree 1 to 2 years
The Masters Degree involves enhancing specific professional or vocational skills. The Masters Degree is typically gained by research or coursework or a combination. Study involves acquiring in-depth understanding of a specific area of knowledge usually by independent research.  A Masters Degree takes either one year after a Bachelor Degree with honours or two years after a Bachelor Degree.

return to top

Doctoral Degree typically 3 years
The Doctoral Degree is the highest award offered by Australian universities. Although it is a research degree, some programs may have a course work component. There are three components to a Doctoral Degree:
  1. a searching review of the literature, experimentation or other systemic approach to a body of knowledge;
  2. an original research project resulting in a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding and/or the application of knowledge within a discipline or field of education; and
  3. a substantial and well-ordered thesis, demonstrating the relationship of the research to the broader framework of the discipline or field of education.

return to top

 

 
     
 
Australia
Germany
New Zealand
Singapore
United Kingdom
US - EST New York
US - CST Chicago
US - MST New Mexico
US - PST Los Angeles