The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is an integral part of the architecture of the Australian education and training system and specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It is administered nationally by the Department of Education.
Why have the changes been proposed?
While the current version of the AQF is more comprehensive and complete compared to the previous versions, there are areas which need reform in order for it to remain relevant to the modern labour market.
Some of the changes help address emerging national policy priorities, including:
- Improving pathways from senior secondary education
- Improving the standing and effectiveness of the VET sector
- Creating a more coherent tertiary education system
- Ensuring that graduates have the knowledge and skills required for the future workforce and social participation
What is proposed?
Broader range of credentials to be included
The proposed changes facilitate the recognition of shorter form credentials including micro-credentials for credit. Short courses play a critical role in opening up educational pathways and delivering education and training linked to specific skillsets. In the future, they will be instrumental in building stackable qualifications better matched to an individual’s employment and developmental needs.
Senior Secondary Certificate of Education
It is proposed to not align the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education to a band. It is also proposed to revise the descriptor for the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education to emphasise its role in preparing students embarking on vocational education and training and/or higher education.
Credit recognition and pathways
Changes have been proposed to recognise previous learning and qualifications, and support lifelong learning. This includes developing and testing a prototype AQF credit point system for voluntary use by providers. It has also been proposed to revise and rename the AQF qualifications pathway to better recognise and encourage broader credit recognition.
Revised AQF architecture
The proposed changes are designed to simplify and make the AQF structure less complex, with a primary focus on the qualification types in the AQF. It has been proposed to have a single, clearer taxonomy comprising eight bands of knowledge and six band of skills more flexibly applied. Application is not rigidly locked to other levels or bands.
Change in the definition of volume of learning
Volume of learning is to be expressed in terms of hours, not years, and to be applied as a benchmark for compliance and quality assurance.
Implementation of reforms and ongoing governance
It has been proposed to establish a governance body made up of representatives from VET, higher education, government, schools, industry and professional bodies, and accountable to the relevant COAG (Council of Australian Government) councils. They are responsible for giving effect to the decisions of the review of the AQF, and to provide advice on revisions to the AQF in the future.
At a glance, see the difference between the current and the future state of the AQF.
Reference: Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework Final Report 2019 (Department of Education)
What does this mean for VET?
The proposed changes especially to the AQF taxonomies and levels would be beneficial to students studying VET or moving between different pathways. The proposed changes would mean that VET and Higher Education qualifications are positioned in a way that both qualification types are valued. The changes support a system that allows greater complementarity and integration between different qualification types, and one where students may have the opportunity to study two qualification types in tandem.
The report envisions a future where post-secondary education and training is redesigned and delivered as a diverse set of offerings, through better linkages and pathways between VET and higher education. The changes accommodate for the fact that throughout adulthood people acquire different skill-sets at different levels and in diverse areas, which might not always be linear or hierarchical. The review is also hoping to reinvigorate the VET system and raise its profile and standing through the proposed changes.
To access the full report, click here.