University of California, Irvine are offering a Specialization Certificate "Virtual Teacher Program" on-line through Coursera. The student undertakes four courses and a final capstone project. The courses are each 2 to 4 hours a week over five weeks and cost A$63 each. The capstone is also $63, making for a total cost of A$315 for the Specialization Certificate.
The courses are:
- Foundations of Virtual Instruction
- Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual…
- Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual…
- Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom
- Virtual Teacher Final Project
Australian registered training organizations (RTOs) offer an on-line Cert IV T&A from $300 to $500 (or about $1,800 for the classroom course at a TAFE), making the US course cheaper. The US certificate also has the advantage of being issued by an institution called a "university".
The Australian government is currently negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the USA and other counties in the region. The details of the draft TPP are secret, but the intention is to reduce barriers to trade. One effect of the TPP may be that Australia will be required to accept qualifications such as US university Specialization Certificates as being equivalent to Australian VET qualifications. The result of this will be that government TAFEs and commercial RTOs in Australia will be competing directly with US universities for students.
This may require Australia to broaden its definition of a "university" to include what are now vocational institutions, or for the current universities to offer VET qualifications, so they can compete with US institutions.
Australian teaching universities will likely strengthen their links to the VET sector, so that students can start with a VET qualification and then articulate to university. But the high status "research" universities will be wary of damaging their reputations by being seen to be offering VET qualifications. They will likely continue to offer education programs at associated "institutes" but not highlight these are actually VET qualifications. Also research universities would have difficulty obtaining VET certification as their academics would not have the necessary teaching qualifications.
As an example of the open approach, Federation University Australia offers their own branded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) programs, which articulate to their university degrees.
In contrast, the University of Western Australia offers an "Advanced Management Program", in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Management Western Australia (AIM WA). The marketing material for this says participants can earn an AIM WA "Advanced Diploma" and status for UWA certificate and degrees. But the marketing is careful to avoid using the terms "VET" or "TAFE", as that would detract from UWA's image as a leading university.