Politics & Policies

Australia – Review of the Qualifications Framework


The AQF puts senior secondary school, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education qualifications into a single, national framework. Ithas played an important role in the quality assurance of Australia’s well-regarded tertiary education system and sets out the nature and purpose of senior secondary education. The AQF is used to assist recognition of Australian qualifications in other countries and has served as a model for the development of qualifications frameworks internationally.

The AQF has 10 levels that include descriptions of learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills and their application at increasing levels of complexity. It describes 14 qualification types. All qualification types except the senior secondary certificate of education are assigned to a level in the 10-level structure.

The AQF consists of:

  • learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills, and the application of knowledge and skills for each AQF level
  • learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, and the application of knowledge and skills) and a volume of learning for each AQF qualification type
  • specifications for authorities that accredit, develop and issue each qualification type
  • policies for: issuing AQF qualifications; AQF qualifications pathways; registers of accrediting and issuing organisations; the addition or removal of AQF qualification types; and principles for alignment with other countries’ qualifications frameworks
  • explanations that help interpret the way the AQF should be implemented.

The AQF levels and descriptors form a taxonomy of learning outcomes.

The objectives of the AQF are similar to those of many qualifications frameworks around the world. They are to provide a contemporary and flexible framework that:

  • accommodates the diversity of purposes of Australian education and training now and into the future
  • contributes to national economic performance by supporting contemporary, relevant and nationally consistent qualification outcomes which build confidence in qualifications
  • supports the development and maintenance of pathways which provide access to qualifications and assist people to move easily and readily between different education and training sectors and between those sectors and the labour market
  • supports individuals’ lifelong learning goals by providing the basis for individuals to progress through education and training and gain recognition for their prior learning and experiences
  • underpins national regulatory and quality assurance arrangements for education and training
  • supports and enhances the national and international mobility of graduates and workers through increased recognition of the value and comparability of Australian qualifications
  • enables the alignment of the AQF with international qualifications frameworks.

For more information about the AQF, read the full AQF document.

Why the AQF is being reviewed

When the AQF Council was disbanded in 2014, the Commonwealth Minister for Education agreed the AQF would be reviewed within five years.

From time to time, since it was introduced, the AQF has been revised to reflect or facilitate change in the education sector. Changes in the nature of work that affect the skills that graduates need and the types of qualifications that students and employers are seeking, now need to be considered for reflection in the AQF.

As it is seven years since it was last formally reviewed, it is timely to consider ways in which the AQF could be improved to keep it at the forefront of best practice in qualifications frameworks internationally.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Discussion Paper: Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework 



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