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Studying in Australia

The Australian education system

The Australian education system is often more complex than the Italian one we’re used to.
Once you have completed ‘secondary education’ (our ‘scuole superiori’), and obtained a High School Diploma, if you want to specialise in a particular area, you can take various paths. Firstly, as an alternative to the university system (Higher Education), you can choose the Vocational sector, which is often used to access higher education more gradually.

The Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) is a framework for distinguishing all the levels of available courses. It is divided into 10 levels, which increase in order of difficulty. Let’s take a look at all of them:

Certificates I and II

These are the briefest and simplest qualifications. The level is general and basic and the concepts that are taught are of a general nature.

Certificates III and IV

These courses alternate practical and theoretical notions and the level of difficulty starts to increase compared with the previous certificates. Certificate holders for these levels start to show specific and technical skills in the relevant sector. The value of this qualification in the labour market is high in the case of very practical subjects like Carpentry, Cookery, Vehicle Technology, and practical subjects generally. A Certificate III or IV qualifies the student just like Skill Level 3, which is one of the three vocational categories.

Diplomas (Level 5)

All the previous qualifications are part of the Vocational system. A Diploma can be part of the vocational or higher education system. Generally speaking, a Diploma corresponds to the knowledge obtained in one year of University. Moreover, this qualification is often used to give managerial recognition to practical work. A mechanic with Certificates III and IV and several years’ experience, often undertakes the Diploma to learn how to manage staff in the field of mechanics. The beautician who wants to apply for a management position in the beauty salon would consider the Diploma of Salon Management.

Advanced Diploma (Level 6)

The level of complexity of this qualification is very similar to the university level and the concepts taught are purely theoretical. Having this qualification indicates to the employer your autonomy and specialisation in a particular area. At the sixth level we also have the Associate Degree, which is a two-year degree course, which still doesn’t qualify you at the university level but gives you the closest qualification to a Degree. Holders of Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees are regarded as being in the Skill Level 2 category.

Bachelor Degree (Level 7)

Skill Level 1, the highest skill level, starts with Level 7. The Bachelor Degree is a three-year degree and gives the graduate valid recognition throughout the world as an expert in a particular subject area.

Bachelor with Honours and Graduate Diploma (Level 8).

At this level, there are two different qualifications. The Bachelor with Honours is a three-year degree strengthened by an extra period dedicated to research and specialisation. The Graduate Diploma is a one-year specialisation course, which can only be accessed by university graduates. This is the case, for example, with Migration Agents, who obtain their qualifications by achieving a Graduate Diploma of Migration Law which strengthens their previous Level 7 into a Level 8.

Master's Degree (Level 9)

These days, a Master’s is regarded as the most useful qualification on the labour market. It consists of a two-year course in which the student learns not only specific concepts at an advanced level, but also how to use advanced research methods and develop a highly critical sense, by fully developing the potential acquired during the three-year degree. A Master’s can have a more practical focus (Master’s by Coursework) or a research focus (Master’s by Research).

The PhD (Level 10)

The PhD is over a relatively long period (up to 4 years) in which the student develops a thesis in depth and concentrates on research. This qualification also enables you to hold a university position.

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