AQF and VET
Two frameworks in Australia make their educational system both inventive and complicated,
meaning their qualifications and vocational education systems to establish standards where
all levels of education can vary between states and territories. The Australia Qualifications Framework (AQF) is a federal system
of qualifications, developed and overseen by an Australian qualifications
advisory board and the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment,
Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).
1 As Technical and Further Education (TAFE) is also governed by differentiated state and territorial standards, for many of the same reasons the national system of vocational education (VET) was
established. Both are currently in the process of being institutionalized. The AQF is thus a
framework that incorporates VET, TAFE, and tertiary qualifications in coordinating a unified system between
secondary, vocational, and higher education.
Given their autonomy from government, where institutions
establish their own standards of admissions, curriculum and qualifications,
the diversity of tertiary education, TAFE institutions, and the “unusual influence of private schools in secondary
education” have been a challenge for standards and accountability.
2 Likewise, implementing AQF and VET has also proven to be a complicated structural
For students that attend a secondary institution,
they first earn a secondary certificate (eight separate certificates for eight separate states and
territories). 3 If the individual attended a vocational program through VET, the student earns a qualification between I and IV. Qualifications I and II recognize basic vocational skills and qualifications III and IV serve as trade certifications. Students can also earn a dual secondary and vocational education
qualification. Apprenticeship programs have been developed for practical experience and learning
from paid work, which through VET can begin before graduation from a secondary
institution. 4 The student with either a secondary certificate or VET
qualification then chooses to enter the workforce accordingly, pursue further vocational education through TAFE, or attend an institution of higher education. The complications
of the system essentially concern the nature of the AQF recognized qualifications and
linkages between cross sectors, for which the
MCEETYA offers best practices since access to institutions beyond secondary education have independent admissions standards.
Students with an AQF qualification can go on to study at a TAFE institution or university
and earn up to four additional certificates, including a diploma, an advanced diploma as well as
a vocational graduate certificate and
graduate diploma. Tertiary qualifications through AQF include two qualifications before a Bachelors degree and two additional step qualifications before earning a
Masters degree. Following the masters degree qualification, the student can proceed with Doctoral studies.
With the implementation of VET and the AQF in Australia, for a country with a tradition of institutional autonomy, questions
over the motivations of the national intervention in education have been asked at all levels of education from secondary to TAFE schools, and particularly from institutions of tertiary education.
Many of the issues relate to questions over federal trends
1 Australian Qualifications Framework Advisory
Qualifications Framework." Retrieved February 22, 2007,
2 Keating, J. (2003). "Qualifications Frameworks in
of Education and Work, Vol. 16, No. 3.
3 Australian Qualifications Framework Advisory Board. "Senior
Secondary Certificate of Education." Retrieved February 22,
4 Australian Qualifications Framework Advisory Board. "AQF
Qualifications: Certificates I-IV." Retrieved February 22,
5 Australian Qualifications Framework Advisory Board. "Cross
Sector Linkages." Retrieved February 22, 2007,