Australian Qualifications Framework

If you don't know thedifference between an advanced diploma and a degree, there’s no need to stress.The great thing about Australia’s education system is that it has a structuredframework of accredited qualifications, which you can use to make sense of eachof the qualification levels.

In this section wediscuss:

  • What is the AQF?
  • The AQF by sector
  • AQF aims
  • Quality assurance

What is the AQF?

The Australian Qualifications Framework(AQF) regulates all Australian qualifications and officially defines the levelof education that each qualification title represents. Each qualificationgenerally leads into the next qualification (see below) in the educationframework.

Having a nationally standardised systemmakes it easier for students to pursue their education, as there is a clearpathway to follow. It also makes transferring between different states andterritories or universities much easier, as there is no confusion caused bydiffering qualification titles and education levels.

The AQF is made up of ten levels:

AQF level

Qualification type

Level 1

Certificate I

Level 2

Certificate II

Level 3

Certificate III

Level 4

Certificate IV

Level 5

Diploma

Level 6

Advanced diploma
Associate degree

Level 7

Bachelor degree

Level 8

Bachelor honours degree
Vocational graduate certificate
Vocational graduate diploma
Graduate certificate
Graduate diploma

Level 9

Masters degree (research)
Masters degree (coursework)
Masters degree (extended)

Level 10

Doctoral degree
Higher doctoral degree

The AQF by sector

The AQF includes qualifications inthree main education sectors (the schools sector, the Vocational Education andTraining (VET) sector and the higher education sector) within a singleframework and provides guidelines about the links between them.

The accredited qualifications are shownbelow, grouped according to the sector in which they are most commonly issued.

Schools sector

VET sector

Higher education sector

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education

Note: VET is increasingly offered in the schools sector

Certificate I
Certificate II
Certificate III
Certificate IV
Diploma
Advanced diploma
Vocational graduate certificate
Vocational graduate diploma

Diploma
Advanced diploma
Associate degree
Bachelor degree
Bachelor honours degree
Graduate certificate
Graduate diploma
Masters degree
Doctoral degree

Note that the higher education sectoris broken into undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. Undergraduatequalifications consist of bachelor degrees (and subsequent bachelor honoursdegrees) and provide initial education for entry into professional careers.Postgraduate qualifications consist of graduate certificates, graduatediplomas, masters degrees and doctoral degrees. These programs provide furtheradvanced-level professional study that enables students to extend theirknowledge, enter a new field or complete research.

AQF aims

The AQF aims to:

  • provide nationally consistent recognition of outcomes achieved in post-compulsory education
  • help with developing flexible pathways that assist people to move more easily between education and training sectors and the labour market by providing a basis for recognition of prior learning, including credit transfer and experience
  • promote national and international recognition of qualifications offered in Australia
  • standardise credit arrangements for students progressing to higher qualification levels or changing institutions, although credit needs to be negotiatied with the individual institution.

Quality assurance

Accredited coursesundergo a government-administered process of review, either directly throughrelevant authorities or indirectly through universities that are appointed'self-accrediting' entities.

Private colleges mustregister with the AQF to be eligible to offer higher education qualifications.

A list of allregistered courses and providers; further information on AQF qualifications andlearning pathways; and direct links to other relevant websites can be found onthe AQF website.

You can find a listof all recognised Registered Training Organisations, accredited courses andtraining packages on the training.gov.au website.

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