Federal, state and territory education ministers today endorsed a stronger national qualifications framework.
The Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment (MCTEE) approved significant changes to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) for Australia’s education sectors.
Minister for Tertiary Education Senator Chris Evans, who chaired the Council, said a strong AQF would help ensure the quality of Australia’s education and training system.
“The Australian Qualifications Framework is an important part of the quality assurance arrangements that have made Australia’s education system among the best in the world,” Senator Evans said.
“Strengthening the framework will improve confidence in our education system and provide greater pathways for students moving through school, vocational education and training and higher education.”
Senator Evans thanked the AQF Council and its Chair, John Dawkins AO, for its work in progressing the stronger framework.
The new AQF will move away from a focus on education delivery towards the learning outcomes of education.
Qualifications will be defined in terms of the knowledge, skills and application of graduates. Qualifications will prepare graduates for both work and further learning, so there will be clear pathways through different qualification types and levels.
“Within this framework, which sets the standards for qualifications, education providers will retain the capacity for innovation and flexibility, and will need to continue to be responsive to the needs of students. Clearer standards will help consumers and providers alike,” Senator Evans said.
“Taking a decision on the AQF now provides some certainty for everyone as we move towards the establishment of new regulatory arrangements in VET and higher education.”
Australia was one of the first countries to introduce a national qualifications framework, introducing the AQF in 1995.
“Since then Australia’s education sectors have undergone significant change,” Senator Evans said.
“The new, strengthened AQF will go a long way to meeting the challenges of an increasingly integrated tertiary sector.
“It will provide greater clarity and transparency in terms of the expected outcomes of qualifications, enable stronger pathways between VET and higher education, greater take-up of VET in schools, and better links between Australia and the global education market.”
The majority of the AQF Council’s recommendations were endorsed in full. Ministers elected to accept the Council’s alternative approach to place the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) within the framework, with strengthened learning outcomes descriptors, but not at a specific level. This aligns with advice from Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities.
Ministers also agreed to include a limited number of additional titles in the Masters degree, including the Juris Doctor which is a title used in 14 Australian universities.
For further information, view the MCTEE communiqué at www.deewr.gov.au/MCTEENov2010.