TEQSA Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates (short courses) – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated 15 March 2024

Can an Undergraduate Certificate be awarded as an exit qualification?

An exit qualification provides an early exit pathway for students who are enrolled in a course of study and have completed the requirements for a qualification nested within the course.

There may be circumstances where an Undergraduate Certificate can be awarded as an exit qualification. In awarding an Undergraduate Certificate, providers must ensure that:

  • the Undergraduate Certificate is awarded during the Undergraduate Certificate course accreditation period
  • the conferral of the award is consistent with the provider’s current policy framework
  • the conferral of the award is consistent with the requirements of the accredited Undergraduate Certificate course, i.e. the provider must be satisfied that the student has met the course requirements and learning outcomes.

What are the requirements for the duration and structure of the Undergraduate Certificate?

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies that the Undergraduate Certificate:

  1. has a duration of six months. This means that the design of the course must ensure that students are capable of completing the course in six months
  2. certifies completion of 0.5 Equivalent Full Time Study Load (EFTSL) toward an existing qualification at AQF levels 5, 6 or 7.

When does the expedited assessment process apply for a new Graduate Certificate application?

Following the success of the expedited assessment process for the accreditation of short courses throughout 2020 and 2021, TEQSA will continue to expedite the assessment of applications to accredit new Graduate Certificates where the units of the course are drawn from an already-accredited source course.

Further information is available at Applications for course accreditation for new Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates.

Can I submit an application to TEQSA before the internal approval process for the course and qualification has been completed?

It is a requirement under Standard 5.1 of the HES Framework that course approval is overseen by peak institutional academic governance processes and they are applied consistently to all courses of study, before the courses are first offered.

TEQSA has implemented a streamlined approach for the assessment of these courses. The evidence required for these applications is set out in the evidence table and has been updated to include the requirement to provide evidence to TEQSA that the proposed course has been subject to institutional course approval and quality assurance processes.

What is TEQSA considering in relation to course learning outcomes?

Under the AQF qualification type descriptor, graduates of an Undergraduate Certificate will:

  • have foundational knowledge sufficient to undertake qualifications at the 5, 6 or 7 AQF level
  • have foundational skills sufficient to undertake qualifications at the 5, 6 or 7 AQF level
  • demonstrate a foundation of application of knowledge and skills sufficient to undertake qualifications at the 5, 6 or 7 AQF level.

It is expected that course learning outcomes are demonstrably foundational in nature and differentiated from the course from which the units are drawn.

Refer to the AQF qualification type descriptor for Undergraduate Certificates and Graduate Certificates for the full descriptions.

What are the requirements for the naming convention of short courses?

The title used for Undergraduate Certificates should be ‘Undergraduate Certificate in/of [Field of study/discipline]’.

The title used for Graduate Certificates should be ‘Graduate Certificate in/of [Field of study/discipline]’ (note: Not ‘Postgraduate Certificate’).  

Broader nomenclature issues concerning both qualifications should be consistent with the AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy.

Can an undergraduate certificate be a ‘nested’ course?

As outlined in the AQF, the Undergraduate Certificate articulates with an existing qualification at AQF levels 5, 6 or 7 and qualifies individuals with knowledge and skills for further study, professional upskilling, employment and participation in lifelong learning. It is open to providers to design the course as a ‘nested’ course but this is not a requirement.

Can I market a course before it has been accredited by TEQSA?

Providers without the relevant self-accrediting authority should not advertise a course of study until TEQSA has accredited the course.

Can an Undergraduate Certificate be awarded after 30 June 2025?

Consistent with the updated AQF requirements following the decision to retain the Undergraduate Certificate, these courses may be accredited until 30 June 2025. Providers should notify students who are enrolled, or planning to enrol, in an undergraduate certificate of the limited nature of this qualification. If the Education and Skills Ministers choose not to extend the qualification, students will need to complete their studies and have their awards conferred by 30 June 2025.

With the Undergraduate Certificate now part of the AQF until 30 June 2025, how will TEQSA approach ‘short course’ assessments?

TEQSA will continue offering an expedited application and assessment process for new Undergraduate and Graduate Certificate applications where those courses have been drawn from an already accredited source course.

What is the cost for applications to accredit a new Undergraduate or Graduate Certificate course?

Information on costs is available on our Fees and Charges page.

Do I need to renew an Undergraduate Certificate at least 180 days before the accreditation expiry?

At present, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) only allows Undergraduate Certificates to be awarded until 30 June 2025 (Addendum 4). If the Education and Skills Ministers decide to extend this date, TEQSA will determine a shorter period for the submission of renewal applications, pursuant to s55(1)(b) of the TEQSA Act. TEQSA will be in touch with providers about the process for renewal of accreditation.

The source course for an Undergraduate Certificate is due for renewal. Can I renew the Undergraduate Certificate at the same time?

At present, it is not possible for TEQSA to extend Undergraduate Certificates that already have a 30 June 2025 expiry date, so we are not currently issuing confirmed evidence tables for these courses. If the Education and Skills Ministers decide to extend this date, TEQSA will be in touch with providers about the process for renewal of accreditation. A separate fee applies to renewal of Undergraduate Certificates which is less than the cost of renewing nested qualifications. This means that providers will not be financially disadvantaged by having Undergraduate Certificates renewed separately to their source courses.

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