The Australian Qualifications Framework – an Overview

Australian Qualifications Framework

Australian qualifications are overseen by The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which is responsible for all regulated qualifications in the training and education sector in Australia. 1995 was the year it was first initiated when it took over from the previous national qualifications system. It takes in vocational training and education (VET), higher education and schools. The AQF has been agreed upon by Territory, State and Commonwealth ministers. It brings together the qualifications from the training and education sectors into a single inclusive qualifications national framework.

The AQF is based around a policy that integrates:

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  • the learning outcome for all AQF levels and qualification types;
  • the specifications of the AQF applications in the development and accreditation of qualifications;
  • the policy for the issuing of AQF qualifications;
  • the policy with regards to qualification links and student pathways;
  • AQF qualifications and the qualification pathways;
  • the policy requirements when adding or removing qualification types from the AQF.

AQF Aims

One of the main objectives of the AQF is to enable specific pathways to and via formal qualifications.
Further AQF objectives are to offer a flexible and contemporary framework that:

  • allows for the differences in purposes of Australian training and education today and forward into the future,
  • contributes to the economic performance nationally of the country through giving support for relevant, contemporary and the outcomes of nationally consistent qualifications which constructs confidence in today’s qualifications,
  • gives support to the maintenance and development of individual pathways which provide access to many different types of qualifications and help individuals to move quickly and easily between the different training and education sectors, and from these sectors into the current labour market,
  • offers support to an individual’s lifelong learning targets by offering the foundation for people to transit various types of training and education and also gaining recognition for any previous learning and relevant experience,
  • complements arrangements in place for national regulations and quality assurances in both training and education,
  • enables the AQF to align with frameworks of international qualifications.

AQF has a Pathways Policy

This is inbuilt into AQF which is to support the lifelong learning of students.

The AQFs policy aims are to:

  • promote student movement between and into the different AQF qualifications;
  • recognise the many pathways students take in order to get AQF qualifications and the learning environment can be informal, non-formal or formal;
  • include every training and education sector that issues AQF qualifications and their responsibility for ensuring qualification pathways are made available to students.

The policy also includes:

  • the responsibility assigned to AQF providers of qualifications to make sure that students have transparent pathways,
  • the responsibilities of qualification developers and accrediting authorities to promote and make pathways available to students.

What the AQF is not:

  • an education provider or an educational institution;
  • a provider of any qualification assessments or recognize overseas qualifications
  • a store of student records;
  • a regulator in the education sector and nor does it have enforcement powers;
  • an expert in relation to specific industries and occupations.
  • It does not deal with licensing, accreditation or registration for trades or professions.
  • It can’t provide any advice regarding employment awards or agreement and payor conditions
  • It has no authority in relation to visa and immigration matters.
  • It can’t provide any career or course advice.

AQF qualifications

The main reasons why AQF qualifications exist is to ensure national consistency and recognition and a common understanding throughout Australia as to what defines each type of qualification.

Different qualification types

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education

  • Level One – Certificate I
  • Level Two – Certificate II
  • Level Three – Certificate III
  • Level Four – Certificate IV
  • Level Five – Diploma
  • Level Six– Advanced Diploma, Associate Degree
  • Level Seven– Bachelor’s Degree
  • Level Eight– Bachelor’s Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma
  • Level Nine– Master’s Degree
  • Level Ten – Doctoral Degree

The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education AQF specification

Completing the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education means individuals are qualified with skills, knowledge, and values to commence diverse pathways to further learning, work or for effective participation in life. This qualification isn’t assigned a level by the AQF.

Other AQF levels

The AQF levels and their set criteria show the complexity of achievement based on depth of achievement and the autonomy required to reveal that achievement. Level One AQF is at the lowest level but level 10 indicates the highest level.

Level I Certificate 1

Those attaining this level will have the skills and knowledge for initial work, involvement in the community or further learning. This entails being able to take part in specific routine activities, being able to identify and then report simple problems and issues.

Level 2 Certificate II

Certificate II qualifies individuals to take on routine work and use as a pathway for further learning.

Level 3 Certificate III

This qualifies individuals to apply a broader range of skills and knowledge in a variety of varied contexts so they can take up skilled work or transit it further learning.

Level 4 Certificate 1V

This is a higher level than Level 4 but qualifies people to take up what’s required in skilled work.

Level 5 Diploma

This is a diploma level qualification that qualifies individuals who can apply integrated theoretical and technical concepts into different contexts so they can take on advanced skilled or paraprofessional jobs and it can also be used as a pathway to further learning. This diploma can be accredited and issued in both VET training programmes and higher education.

Level 6 Advanced Diploma

This qualifies individuals who are able to apply specialised knowledge in different contexts which qualifies them to take up advanced skilled or paraprofessional work. It can also be used as a pathway for more advanced learning.

Level 7 Bachelor’s Degree

This qualifies individuals who show they can apply a coherent and broad body of knowledge in different contexts so they can take up professional or transit to more learning.

Level 8 Bachelor’s Honours Degree, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate

This qualifies individuals who are able apply knowledge in a context in order to undertake professional work.

Level 9 Masters Degree (Research)

This qualifies individuals who are able to apply advanced knowledge in different contexts for both research and scholarship

Level 10 Doctoral degree

A Doctoral degree qualifies individuals who are able to apply a substantial amount of knowledge to research, to investigate and to develop new knowledge, in more than one field of investigation, professional practice or scholarship.

AQF has a Qualifications Pathways Policy

This is inbuilt into the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which is to genuinely support lifelong learning of students.

The AQFs policy aims are to:

  • promote student movement into and between the different AQF qualifications,
  • recognise the many pathways students take in order to gain AQF qualifications, and the learning environment can be informal, non-formal or formal,

This policy includes every training and education sector that issues AQF qualifications and the responsibility for ensuring qualification pathways are made available to all students.

The policy also includes the:

  • responsibility assigned to providers of AQF qualifications to make sure that students have transparent pathways,
  • responsibilities of qualification developers and accrediting authorities to promote and make available pathways for students.

In summary, the AQF offers a reliable way of summarising qualifications available in Australia and what each level means.