Education providers in Queensland deliver qualifications that fit into a national policy framework called the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). It is important to understand how these qualifications fit together to ensure that you make good decisions about your study options.

These qualifications such as certificate III, certificate IV or a bachelor degree are designed to link together and allow students to move from one sector to the other while getting recognition or credit for prior study. So the knowledge and skills you gain by completing a certificate III are then built on in a certificate IV and a diploma and so on.
 
However it isn’t necessary to complete all qualifications levels listed in the AQF. You may go straight to a degree without passing through TAFE, or you might choose to complete a TAFE qualification only. While diplomas and degrees can be delivered by education providers from both the university and TAFE sectors, university diplomas are often building a foundation for a university degree and don’t usually have the job outcomes that TAFE diplomas do.
 
Australian Qualifications Framework diagram
 

Cert III

This qualification is considered to be an entry level qualification for jobs in many industries. A certificate III is designed to give students who undertake the qualification technical skills and knowledge so they can undertake skilled work. It can also be used as a pathway to further studies with some education providers. Certificate III qualifications are usually available through TAFE institutions and generally take 6 months to complete.
 
 
Rank ranges: 
  • Graded AQF Certificate III: 41-82
  • Ungraded complete AQF Certificate III: 68
 

Cert IV

This qualification is considered to be an intermediate level qualification for jobs in many industries. A certificate IV is designed to give students who achieve the qualification comprehensive technical skills and knowledge so they can undertake specialised skilled work. It could also be used as a pathway for further learning with some education providers. The Certificate IV in Adult Tertiary Preparation is an exception as this qualification has been developed specifically as pathway to further study. Certificate IV qualifications are usually available through TAFE/VET institutions and generally take 6-12 months to complete.
 
 
Rank ranges: 
  • Graded AQF Certificate IV: 45-89
  • Ungraded complete AQF Certificate IV: 74
 
Traineeships and apprenticeships will be accompanied by an AQF qualification (e.g. an AQF certificate III or certificate IV). Only the AQF qualifications will be assessed when applying for university and a separate rank will not be given for the traineeship or apprenticeship. Recent traineeships or apprenticeships completed prior to 1995 are assigned a rank of 71.
 

Diploma

This qualification is considered to be an advanced level qualification for jobs in most industries. A diploma is designed to give students who undertake the qualification integrated technical skills and knowledge so they can do advanced skilled work. It could also be used as a pathway for further learning with most education providers. Diploma qualifications are usually available through TAFE institutions and generally take 12-18 months to complete. There may be entry requirements for these qualifications. 
 
Universities also offer diplomas. While some of these are the same as the diplomas offered by TAFE institutions some are not. These different awards are often called foundation diplomas and are designed to be a pathway to university rather than having a job outcome. Foundation diplomas are used to give you an introduction to study at university level and to develop some academic skills such as researching, referencing and academic writing. It usually takes 12 months of full time study to complete such programs. There are often entry requirements for these qualifications.
 
 
Rank ranges:
  • Graded incomplete AQF Diploma of at least one year: 45-93
  • Graded AQF Diploma of less than one year full time: 40-82
  • Graded complete AQF Diploma of at least one year: 41-91
 

Advanced Diploma

This qualification is considered to be a high level vocational qualification for jobs in most industries. An advanced diploma is designed to give students who undertake the qualification specialised knowledge for a range of contexts to undertake advanced, skilled or paraprofessional work. It could also be used as a pathway for further learning with most education providers. Advanced diploma qualifications are usually available through TAFE institutions and some universities and generally take 12-18 months to complete. There are usually entry requirements for these qualifications.
 
 
Rank ranges: 
  • Graded incomplete AQF Advanced Diploma of at least one year: 45-98
  • Graded AQF Advanced Diploma of less than one year full time: 45-93
  • Graded complete AQF Advanced Diploma of at least one year: 45-98
 

Associate Degree

An Associate degree is similar to an advanced diploma and students technical and theoretical knowledge to undertake paraprofessional work in a range of contexts. This qualification is offered by universities and some TAFE/VET providers. At many universities this can be a pathway to a degree and may cover the content of the first year (and sometimes more) of a bachelor degree. It is recognised as a valuable higher education qualification in its own right in many industries. It may also offer membership at a paraprofessional or associate level with relevant professional bodies such as Engineer’s Australia. These qualifications generally take 2 years to complete and there are entry requirements.
 
 
 

Bachelor Degree

A bachelor degree offers high-level knowledge and to students who undertake this qualification, to equip them to undertake work at a professional level. This qualification is offered by universities and some TAFE providers. It is recognised as a valuable qualification for employment across most industry sectors. Completion of this qualification may allow you to gain professional membership with relevant professional bodies such as Engineer’s Australia. These qualifications generally take 3-4 years to complete and there are entry requirements.
 
 
Rank ranges: 
  • Bachelors degree of at least one year: 45-99
  • Graded bachelor degree study of at less than one year full time 45-94
 
When considering your options for further study, you may also consider a packaged qualification known as a dual award. A dual award is an option where you apply for a TAFE diploma and a degree at the same time, through one QTAC application. So when you complete your diploma you move straight in to your degree with guaranteed entry, and pre-determined credit.

 

Useful Links

 

Questions to ask your education provider

Choosing to return to study is an investment in your future, and like all investments you should do some research before making a final decision. All Queensland (and Australian) universities are accredited by a regulatory body called Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA). TEQSA regulates and evaluates the performance of all higher education providers. Similarly, VET providers are regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). While these regulatory bodies provide a level of quality assurance it is still important to ask questions of your education providers to ensure that you choose a provider that offers the best outcome for you and your circumstances.
 
Here is a checklist of possible questions you may wish to consider. You should clarify areas of concern before finalising your enrolment either by researching websites or asking your education provider.
  • Is the organisation a registered education provider organisation?
  • Does this program lead to an AQF qualification?
  • Is this organisation a member of an industry body or association (such as Engineers Australia or Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency)?
  • What content will be covered in this program?
  • What are the assessment requirements for the program?
  • What are the fees and other charges that relate to the program?
  • When is Census date for each study period in this program?
  • What is the organisation's refund policy?
  • What support services are provided e.g. counselling, student welfare?
  • What study support is provided e.g. study books, textbooks, libraries?
  • What is the duration of the program?
  • What jobs might this qualification lead to?
  • What are the graduate attributes for this program?
  • What are the employment outcomes for this program?
  • Does this organisation offer job placement or internship opportunities as part the qualification?

 

Useful links:

You can check if your education provider is fully registered by visiting:
 
Other information can be found at:
 

Open Days and Orientation 

Most education providers have an Open Day at least once a year. These often take place in the middle of the year (July – September) but can occur at other times.  An Open Day is your opportunity to visit a campus and gain a “feel” for it. It is an opportunity to talk to lecturers from the program you are interested in and gain the information you may need. It is your chance to check whether the education provider and the program will be a good fit for you and your particular circumstances.
 
 
Once you are enrolled you will be invited to attend Orientation (or there will be on-line Orientation opportunities for students studying off-campus). It can be tempting to skip some of these activities, especially if you have studied before, but it is really important to take part. You will be introduced to other students studying in your program, get to know your way around campus, find out about support services available to you and be able to take part in workshops offered by the library or study centre that will help you in your first semester. So it’s well worth the time spent to take part in Orientation.