Credit transfer: VET takes charge

Buried in the Employment White Paper is what a single tertiary education system will need; a common credit recognition system.

But the existing Australian Qualification Framework isn’t here to help. The paper says that skills and knowledge in AQF qualification levels “are difficult to understand,” do not support transitions between VET and HE and limit credit recognition. 

In December 2019, the late Peter Noonan and colleagues published a review of the Australian Qualifications Framework that addressed such problems and the then government was quick to approve all  their HE related recommendations.

And then left the review in limbo. (CMM)

There are reasons for that. Like the AQF itself, the review was a model of clarity, but only to VET policy experts. And while the training establishment agreed the AQF as was did not work they also agreed there was no consensus on what needed to be done. As the Department of Education told a House of Reps committee, in March, “although many stakeholders agree with the overall reform intent of the AQF Review, stakeholders have varying perspectives about how some of the more complex review recommendations should be addressed,” (Campus Morning Mail March 22).

But now the White Paper makes it plain that something must be done, “better acknowledgement and measurement of the different ways people upskill across their lives will be an important aspect of promoting lifelong learning. While short-form qualifications such as microcredentials are not currently recognised under the AQF, there are opportunities to develop innovative methods of demonstrating skills development”

The Interim Report of the O’Kane Accord spells it out, “using arrangements between industry, unions and governments to progress the recommendations of the (AQF) – this should be a matter of priority.”

Easier announced then implemented.

Universities are self-accrediting and their independence and inertia on system-wide change will make change hard.

But, whether or not the AQF is the basis, the VET sector is on to simplifying quals and credit transfer. Craig Robertson from the Victorian Skills Authority is leading VET qualification design, staring with mapping purposes of qualifications and identifying how they are used. This will take a tonne of time but if VET gets it done it looks like the training sector will set the terms for dual sector quals and recognition, which will be presented to universities on a take them or take them basis. With an integrated post-secondary system all bit adopted, at least in principle, ignoring transferable and cross sector quals will not be an option ministers, at least Commonwealth ones will want to wear. 

This may take time to sink in – the White Paper includes “higher apprenticeships’ – which combine structured on-the-job training through apprenticeships with study leading to degree-level qualifications.” To which Universities Australia responded, “we will be seeking clarification from government … “while we support greater engagement between universities and VET providers, it is important that this is done in a complementary way.”

With a government keen on major reform, which it will likely have at least two terms to pursue, it might have been wise for UA feign enthusiasm.



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