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Australian Qualifications


In Australia, you experience a unique kind of education – a learning style that encourages innovative, creative, independent thinking. You build skills to give you an advantage – Academically, Personally, Creatively and Professionally.
The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
The AQF is a national system established by the Australian Government that links courses and qualifications. It covers University, Vocational Education and Training, and School education.
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 gives you flexibility in career planning and encourages you to continue learning to help you through any career and lifestyle changes you make in your life.
The AQF provides guidelines for assessment and accreditation of qualifications such as Diplomas and Degrees. For example, you can seek credit towards a qualification for the knowledge and skills you gained through previous study, training, work and life experience. Once you establish the status of your existing qualifications, you can choose from appropriate level courses anywhere in Australia. Even if you partially complete an AQF qualification you are issued a Statement of Attainment.

The AQF comprises thirteen national qualifications issued in:

  • Secondary schools
  • Vocational education and training institutions.
  • Higher education institutions (mainly universities).

The diagram below groups the AQF qualifications according to the schools, vocational or higher education institutions that commonly issue the qualifications. The diagram also shows typical learning pathways and links to 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 universities and vocational education and training institutions offer Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas, and Bachelors Degree.
  • 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.
  • Foundation Studies or Bridging courses

    Foundation Studies or Bridging courses help students meet entry requirements for further study or may lead to further study that will result in an AQF qualification.

  • English language training courses

    There are also wide ranges of English language training courses, which help students improve their English proficiency, meet the standard for further study.

  • School qualifications

    • Senior Secondary Certificate of Education
    • Final two years of school

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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 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.

Diploma - 18 to 24 months Advanced Diploma - 2 to 3 years

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.

Bachelor Degree |Minimum 3/ 4 years Graduate Diplomas - 12 months Masters Degree - 1 to 2 years Doctoral Degree - Typically 3 years

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