TEQSA and medical colleges agree on way forward for postgraduate medical training titles

TEQSA has been working with several specialist medical colleges to ensure the terms used to describe postgraduate training for medical practitioners meet the requirements of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Act 2011 (TEQSA Act).

The TEQSA Act places restrictions on use of terms such as Diploma, Bachelor or Masters to describe qualifications. This is to safeguard the interests of students and uphold the integrity of Australian higher education qualifications by ensuring that only courses that align with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and are provided by registered higher education providers use these regulated terms.

With the exception of the College of Dermatologists, no specialist medical colleges are registered with TEQSA to award qualifications using these terms.

Following discussions with several colleges and the Department of Health and Aged Care, the specialist medical colleges have agreed to ensure terms used to describe their qualifications will comply with the TEQSA Act from the end of February 2024.

This change in nomenclature by the respective colleges does not impact previous training recipients or the content of the programs offered. Medical colleges will be able to publish details of how qualifications previously conferred as diplomas align with the new qualification titles.

TEQSA thanks the specialist medical colleges for engaging with us since late 2022 to explore all options for ensuring continuity of the delivery of postgraduate medical training by the colleges, while meeting the requirements of the TEQSA Act.

Frequently asked questions

Under what section of the TEQSA Act has TEQSA made this decision?

Under sections 105 and 106 of the TEQSA Act, it is an offence for a regulated entity that is not a registered higher education provider, to:

  • offer or confer a higher education award (including a Diploma) or,
  • represent that it offers or confers, or will offer or confer, a regulated higher education award (including a Diploma). 

Financial penalties of up to 600 penalty units (approximately $187,000) can apply for breaches of the Act.

What are the specialist medical colleges doing to achieve compliance?

Specialist medical colleges will ensure the terms used to describe the postgraduate medical qualifications they deliver and confer, are in keeping with the TEQSA Act from February 2024.

Each college, reflective of the needs of their members and specialist disciplines, is determining what the updated nomenclature will be. 

Will this impact people who have completed a program prior to 2024?

No. Medical practitioners who have been conferred a diploma by a medical college in the past, will be able to continue to use the diploma title.

What is the AQF?

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) was established in 1995 and updated in 2013. Key objectives of the AQF are to contribute to the Australian economy by supporting relevant, consistent graduate outcomes, and providing pathways between different education and training sectors and labour markets, building confidence in Australian qualifications.

The AQF also underpins national regulatory and quality assurance arrangements and enables alignment with international qualifications frameworks.

The AQF sets out the learning outcomes for each AQF level and qualification type and the specifications for the application of the AQF in the accreditation and development of qualifications.

TEQSA regulates courses that are at AQF Level 5 (diploma) to Level 10 (doctoral degrees).

The protection of AQF titles and qualification descriptors preceded the TEQSA Act. The National Protocols for Higher Education Approval 2008 set out that AQF qualifications titles were protected by a national legislative framework, with “significant financial penalties for breaching the legislation or guidelines which protect use of the titles”.

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