Sunday, October 27, 2019

Review of Australian Qualifications Proposes Recognition of Microcredentials

A Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), has proposed recognising credit-bearing microcredentials, and implementing a national credit points system is proposed.

The report uses the example of the EdX Micromasters, where students can obtain credit towards up to one-quarter of a Masters (six months of the two years full-time study) for completing a series of online courses. This is a curious choice, as the EdX MicroMasters is comparable to a Graduate Certificate in the AQF, and so not very "micro", compared to recognition of much smaller microcredentials in New Zealand. The NZ micro-credentials are equivalent to 1 to 8 weeks study, whereas the EdX MicroMasters is 12 weeks of study. Also the Report's endorsement of the term MicroMasters (an EdX trademark), is troubling. What is next, Masters degrees rebranded as "DemiDoctorates"? ;-)

The report claims a national credit points system "would make learning outcomes more comparable between different institutions". However, that is likely to be opposed by institutions which strive to differentiate themselves, in particular universities wanting to be be seen to be superior to Vocational Educaiton and Training (VET) institutions, contrary to the report's wish for a credit point scheme to "contribute to parity of esteem between VET and higher education by expressing the equivalence in value of learning from both systems". Also research intensive universities are unlikely to want to be part of a scheme which equates their offerings with that of education focused universities, let alone the VET sector.

I put some thoughts on how to reform Australian higher education last year when invited to give evidence to the an Australian Senate Committee on the Future of Work and Workers, at Parliament House in Canberra, alongside Rob Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), and just after the ANU VC.

Except from the  Review of the AQF Final Report 2019:

"The Panel has proposed a comprehensive set of reforms and an implementation plan that would see a future AQF evolve as follows:
  1. A less complex AQF structure with a primary focus on the qualification types in the AQF (Degrees, Certificates etc.).
  2. A single and clearer taxonomy comprising eight bands of knowledge and six bands of skills more flexibly applied. Application is not rigidly locked to other bands (or levels).
  3. Contemporary definitions of knowledge and skills are used. Knowledge, Skills and Application are defined in terms of action – the information to inform action, the capabilities to take action and the context for action.
  4. Using these features, the AQF is refocused on the design of qualifications linked to learning outcomes for individual qualifications.
  5. Additional information is included to help define qualification types, particularly for qualifications leading to Nationally Recognised Training delivered through the VET sector, for apprenticeships and for research-oriented qualifications.
  6. General capabilities (such as digital literacy and ethical decision making) are identified for use in individual qualifications.
  7. A prototype national credit points system is developed for voluntary adoption by institutions and sectors.
  8. Qualification types are realigned against the revised taxonomy (based on options outlined in this Report) including the addition of a higher diploma qualification. VET certificates can be more meaningfully titled to reflect their purpose.
  9. The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education is more clearly defined and represented in the AQF in terms of its role in preparing young people for a range of pathways into VET and higher education (including with credit).
  10. Volume of learning is expressed in terms of hours, not years, and applied as a benchmark for compliance and quality assurance.
  11. An ongoing governance body for the AQF is established to give effect to decisions of the Review of the AQF and to provide advice on revisions to the AQF where required in the future.
  12. AQF policies are updated or assigned to the relevant agency, with redundant policies removed. The AQF is more consistently referenced and applied in VET and higher education sector standards and guidelines."
From: AQF Review 2019 (numbering and emphasis added).


Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework Final Report 2019, Peter Noonan, Allan Blagaich, Sally Kift, Megan Lilly, Leslie Loble, Elizabeth More, Marie Persson, Australian Department of Educaiton, 24 October 2019

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