VET Accredited courses either:
Australian Qualifications Framework levels
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for qualifications in the Australian education and training system. The AQF provides a framework of ‘AQF levels’, which contain one or more qualification types. For example, AQF level 1 only contains the Certificate I qualification type, but AQF level 8 contains the Graduate Certificate and the Graduate Diploma qualification types.
The following AQF qualification types are recognised in the VET sector:
- Certificate I
- Certificate II
- Certificate III
- Certificate IV
- Advanced Diploma
- Graduate Certificate
- Graduate Diploma.
Note: a ‘Course in’ does not have an assigned AQF level.
The AQF describes what a graduate is expected to know, understand and be able to do as a result of learning. This is expressed in terms of the knowledge, skills, the application of knowledge and skills required by a graduate, underpinned by the volume of learning requirements for the AQF level. Ensure your course aligns to the nominated AQF level by comparing the complexity and depth of knowledge, skills, application of knowledge and skills and volume of learning to be covered by your course with the criteria outlined in each AQF level and qualification type descriptor (see Table 6).
ASQA’s Accredited course document template requires you to justify how your course meets the AQF level criteria and descriptor for the nominated qualification type.
Describe this information in Section B: 4.1 ‘Qualification level’ component of the course template. Describe the volume of learning for the course in the ‘Packaging Rules’ component of the course template at Section B: 5.1 ‘Course structure’.
Table 6: Criteria for each AQF level and qualification type
|AQF level criteria||Qualification type descriptor|
Volume of learning (VoL)
The AQF defines the volume of learning as ‘a dimension of the complexity of a qualification. It is used with the level criteria and qualification type descriptor to determine the depth and breadth of the learning outcomes of a qualification. The volume of learning identifies the notional duration of all activities required for achievement of the learning outcomes specified for a particular AQF qualification type. It is expressed in equivalent full-time years.’
The AQF volume of learning is part of the complexity requirements of a qualification. The AQF provides a guide to the volume of learning which describes how long a learner who does not hold any of the competencies identified in the relevant units of competency would take to develop all the required skills and knowledge.
The AQF specifies the volume of learning in years. The conversion to hours is shown in Table 7.
RTOs are required to comply with the AQF in applying the volume of learning to programs and must develop and implement strategies for training and assessment that are consistent with the AQF.
The volume of learning identifies the notional duration of all activities required to achieve the learning outcomes of the course, including all teaching and learning activities such as guided learning (classes, lectures, tutorials, online or self-paced study), individual study, research, learning activities in the workplace and assessment activities.
You can calculate the volume of learning as follows:
nominal (supervised) hours + unsupervised hours = volume of learning
Nominal (supervised) hours represent the supervised structured learning and assessment activity required to sufficiently address the content of each unit (acknowledging that progress can vary between learners). Nominal (supervised) hours are assigned to learning and assessment activities that are delivered via face-to-face, online and/or structured distance education. Unsupervised hours represent activities that contribute to achieving the course outcomes that are not supervised by an RTO trainer or assessor. These may include activities such as non-supervised work experience, field placement, private study and/or assignment work.
Table 7: Conversion of AQF volume of learning to hours
|Certificate I||Certificate II||Certificate III||Certificate IV||Diploma||Advanced
|0.5 – 1 year||0.5 – 1 year||1 – 2 years||0.5 – 2 years||1 – 2 years||1.5 – 2 years||0.5 – 1 year||1 – 2 years|
|600 – 1200 hours||600 – 1200 hours||1200 – 2400 hours||600 – 2400 hours||1200 – 2400 hours||1800 – 2400 hours||600 – 1200 hours||1200 – 2400 hours|
Meeting the volume of learning requirements
To enable ASQA to assess whether your course meets the volume of learning for the nominated qualification type, you need to determine the nominal (supervised) and unsupervised hours so these can be described in the course document.
How to calculate nominal (supervised) hours
- For training package units of competency:
If you have included units from training packages in the course structure, the nominal hours for each unit must align to those specified in the Victorian Purchasing Guides. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) uses these hours for AVETMISS reporting purposes; therefore, ASQA uses these hours as a benchmark.
- For enterprise units of competency:
You must determine the nominal hours to be assigned to each unit. These hours should be an accurate indicator of the duration of supervised structured learning and assessment activity required to sufficiently address the content of the unit (acknowledging that progress can vary between learners).
- For courses that have electives and/or elective groups
Where your course allows the learner to select electives from a list or group of electives, specify the total nominal (supervised) hours for the course as a range of hours based on the lowest and highest achievable hours.
How to calculate unsupervised hours
- For all units of competency:
Unsupervised hours are assigned to activities such as non-supervised work experience, field placement, private study and/or assignment work. In the course document, provide an approximate number of hours a learner will need to engage in unsupervised activities to complete the course. Unsupervised activities and hours can be described as a total for the course, rather than for each unit of competency.
‘Amount of training’ has a different meaning to volume of learning. The amount of training provided by an RTO is part of the overall volume of learning and relates primarily to formal activities including classes and other activities as well as workplace learning. Further information regarding the amount of training can be found in ASQA’s Users’ Guide to the Standard for Registered Training Organisations 2015.
Case study: Determining volume of learning
A course developer is developing a Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance.
The course developer needs to determine the volume of learning for their proposed course, which includes training package and enterprise units of competency.
The nominal (supervised) hours for the existing training package units included in the course are sourced from the Victorian Purchasing Guides.
To determine the nominal (supervised) hours for the enterprise units of competency, the course developer calculates the hours of supervised training and assessment activities needed to achieve competence in each unit of competency.
For example, 112 nominal hours are allocated to DSSDWS504 Devise works for screen based on the following breakdown:
Each unit’s breakdown of hours, as provided in the example above, does not need to be listed in the course document.
The course developer documents the total nominal hours for each unit of competency in the packaging rules component of the course document using the table format suggested in ASQA’s Accredited course document template:
Course developer’s documentation of total nominal hours
The course developer calculates the unsupervised hours for the course will be made up of:
- 100 hours—independent research and learning
- 100 hours—projects and assignments
- 70 hours—observation of stage and screen productions
The course developer identifies the unsupervised hours for the course in the packaging rules component of the course document by providing a total for the unsupervised component of the course, rather than listing the hours associated with each activity:
Course developer’s documentation of unsupervised hours
This course requires students to undertake the following unsupervised activity:
- independent research and learning
- projects and assignments, and
- observation of stage and screen productions.
The time required to undertake these activities will vary between students based on their experience. On average, the non‑supervised activities listed above will equate to 270 hours.
Using the formula nominal (supervised) hours + unsupervised hours = volume of learning, the volume of learning for this course is 1204 hours which aligns to the volume of learning for Diploma qualification type (1200 - 2400 hours).
Note: This case study is modelled on the current accredited course 10196NAT Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance. Permission for ASQA to use information from this accredited course was provided from the course owner the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).
‘Course in’—VET accredited courses that do not align to an AQF qualification type
Where a course does not meet the requirements of a qualification but does meet an identified need, a ‘Course in’ can be developed. The main differences between a VET accredited course that aligns to an AQF qualification type and a ‘Course in’ are shown in Table 8.
Table 8: Differences between AQF qualifications and ‘courses in’
|Course title||On completion of full course||If full course is not completed|
|AQF Qualification||The title of a course aligns to an AQF qualification type and is preceded by the qualification type e.g. Certificate III in Underground Coal Mine Inertisation Team Operations.||The learner achieves a Testamur indicating completion of an AQF qualification.||The learner is provided with a Statement of Attainment which lists the units of competency successfully completed by the learner.|
|‘Course in’||The title of a course does not align to an AQF qualification outcome and is preceded by ‘Course in’ e.g. Course in Asthma Management.||The learner achieves a Statement of Attainment which indicates completion of the ‘Course in’ and lists the units of competency completed.||The learner is provided with a Statement of Attainment in partial completion of the course which lists the units of competency successfully completed by the learner.|