Does your course follow the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)?

3rd July 2019

One of the biggest advantages of studying in Australia is that higher education qualifications and vocational training is regulated and follows a national system called the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF provides a national understanding of what defines a qualification and ensures that courses and training are delivered consistently.


Consistency across AQF qualifications

AQF qualifications are delivered at high schools, universities,TAFE colleges and other Registered Training Organisations and must be delivered according to the official qualification documents and unit guides.

It is important to note that although the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) sets the framework of qualifications, it is another organisation — Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) — that accredits and regulates individual courses and training providers to ensure the nationally recognised quality standards are met.

What this means for you is that you can expect the qualification you are studying to have a nationally understood:

  • Code and qualification title. E.g. CHC50413 - Diploma of Youth Work.
  • Pre-requisite or entry requirement. E.g. students enrolling in a Certificate IV in Retail must hold a Certificate III in Retail (or have equivalent RPL).
  • Number of units. E.g. students completing a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery must complete 21 core units and 4 elective units.
  • Assessments and competencies. E.g. students completing community service qualifications and undertaking the unit CHCCCS027 visit client residence must actually visit 5 different people in their place of residence.

Nationally Recognised Certification Documents

When you complete an AQF qualification you are issued with a nationally recognised certification document or Testamur. You also receive a Statement of Attainment as you complete individual units within the qualification. Each of these documents will bear the nationally recognised logo as well as the details of the training provider — these certification documents are immediately recognisable to students, employers, and education providers all over Australia.


AQF Qualifications

There are 10 levels of AQF Qualifications as well as the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

Level Certification Details
N/A Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) is the graduating certificate from Australia high schools. Note: certificate names vary according to state.
Level 1 Certificate I Certificate I qualifications provide basic knowledge and prepare students for the workplace or community involvement.
Level 2 Certificate II Certificate II qualifications enable the student to carry out routine work in their industry or work sector.
Level 3 Certificate III Certificate III qualifications enable the student to undertake skilled work in their industry or work sector. Australian Apprentices usually complete Certificate III qualifications.
Level 4 Certificate IV Certificate IV qualifications provide practical skills and specialised knowledge. Cert IVs often provide basic supervisory skills.
Level 5 Diploma Diplomas are for managers and supervisors who need a mix of advanced skills as well as theoretical knowledge of their industry.
Level 6 Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree Advanced diplomas (and other level 6 qualifications) provide specialised and technical knowledge of a specific area within their industry.
Level 7 Bachelor’s Degree Bachelor’s degrees are university level qualifications and usually take 3-4 years to complete. Degrees involve a lot of theory and can often be applied to a range of industries.
Level 8 Honours or Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma Honours (and other level 8 qualifications) allow a student with a bachelor’s degree to obtain a higher level of achievement within the same qualification. They take 1-2 years.
Level 9 Master’s Master’s degrees provide an advanced body of knowledge and qualify students for professional practice and research within their industry.
Level 10 Doctorate Doctoral degrees are the highest qualification in Australia. Graduates have carried out at least two years of research in their chosen field and have made a significant contribution to the development of new knowledge.

Benefits of AQF qualifications

Apart from holding a qualification that is recognised all over Australia, there are many other benefits associated with completing an AQF qualification, including:

  • Quality Assurance - registered training organisations (and their trainers) must meet quality assurance standards for education and training.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) - your existing skills and other certifications are recognised, so you can often apply credits (or RPL) which allows you to complete that Certificate IV or Diploma much sooner.
  • Recency and Relevance - qualifications are updated regularly so you know you are always learning skills that are the most recent (and the most relevant) within your chosen occupation or work sector.
  • Pathways to Learning - AQF qualifications allow you to follow learning pathways and seamlessly transition from high school learning > vocational training > university qualifications.
  • Fraud Protection - AQF qualifications are accredited and audited by ASQA (which strictly regulates training providers) so your AQF qualifications are always protected from fraudulent issue.
  • International Alignment - AQF qualifications and pathways are in alignment with other international qualifications frameworks.

REMEMBER: the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is a policy for regulated qualifications, but it is the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) who accredits the qualifications, then regulates the training organisations who deliver them.

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