Monday, October 5, 2020

Will Microcredentials and Certificates Change Australian Higher Education?

Following the adage "never let a good crisis go to waste" the Australian Government is introducing reforms to
higher education. While proposals to charge different fees for different degrees has received attention, those promoting shorter qualifications may have more long term impact. The Australian government funded graduate certificates and a new undergraduate certificate (equivalent of about 12 weeks full time study). These were introduced as a short term measure due to COVID-19. The government is also encouraging microcredentials, which university are implementing by re-purposing units of about three weeks of full time degree content.

Both certificates and short courses do not seem a radical change for universities, however, if students start enrolling in these in place of degrees, it could have a profound effect. Universies would hope students would take some microcredentials, then use these for a certificate, then a diploma or degree at the same institution. But students may find they don't really need the degree, or that they want to mix and match microcredentials from different institution for their degree. This is routine in the vocational education sector, where training units are standardized. But universities have been miserly in granting credit for study elsewhere, arguing their programs are unique.

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