What is not clear to me is how micro-credentials will fit with existing university and vocational education and training (VET) qualifications. The NZ micro-credential is 5 to 40 NZ "credits", where a year full-time study is 120 credits. This make a NZ micro-credential is about one hundredth, to one tenth, of a three year degree, making it a deci- or centi-credential (a literal "micro-credential" would be about 30 minutes study).
In the Australian system a common sub-degree qualification is a "certificate" (or graduate certificate) requiring half a year study. This would make a NZ micro-credential between 8% and 67% of a certificate. An Australian university year is commonly 24 weeks of study, making a NZ micro-credential equivalent to 1 to 8 weeks study. An Australian VET Certificate IV requires ten "Units of competency". So a NZ micro-credential would be between half and four units of competency.
Micro-credentials may well "disrupt" the higher education system, by providing shorter, cheaper, more convenient and relevant qualifications. Hopefully this can be done with protection for the students, teachers and the community, from exploitation. It needs to be kept in mind that qualifications are not just about students getting a better job, they are about ensuring the community receives the safe level of service expected.
Australia has experienced exploitation of students in vocational courses, where they were signed up for overpriced worthless qualifications, and exploitation of students in the "gig-economy" workforce, where they were underpaid (and threatened if they spoke out). If not carefully regulated, micro-credentials could create perfect conditions for further exploitation of students.
From: "Recognising micro-credentials in New Zealand", NZ, 2018
"Micro-credentials Characteristics Educational elements
- Certifies achievement of a set of skills and knowledge
- Coherence of the skills and knowledge required
- Purpose statement required
- Learning outcomes required
- Strong demonstrable evidence of need by industry, employer and/or community required
- Does not typically duplicate current quality-assured learned approved by NZQA
Credit values 5 to 40 credits Entities who may deliver or arrange training
- Tertiary education providers and Industry Training Organisations can seek approval of micro-credentials through the training scheme rules and consent to assess rules
- Non-Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) - Equivalency service only
- Yearly review of quality-assured micro-credentials
- Quality-assured micro-credentials published on a public register
- Micro-credentials with an equivalence statement (delivered by non-TEOs) published on a separate register"