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Undergraduate Certificates - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated on 11 November 2021

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 course?

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.

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 developed a streamlined approach for the assessment of these courses to help providers make these courses available as soon as possible to support the government’s COVID-19 response.

The evidence required for these applications is set out in the evidence table. This includes the requirement to provide an assurance to TEQSA that the proposed course will be subject to institutional course approval and quality assurance processes.

While we do not require you to submit evidence of internal course approval with the application, in accordance with Standard 5.1, you must complete this approval before offering the course.

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.

Refer to the AQF qualification type descriptor for the full description.

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

What are the requirements for the naming convention of the course?

The title used for the Undergraduate Certificate should be ‘Undergraduate Certificate (Field of study/discipline)’. Broader nomenclature issues concerning the Undergraduate Certificate 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.

The streamlined approach for the assessment of these courses means that providers will receive a timely decision to help make these courses available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can an Undergraduate Certificate be awarded after 31 December 2021?

TEQSA will accredit the Undergraduate Certificate courses in line with the AQF. This means that the Undergraduate Certificate courses will be accredited until 31 December 2021. An Undergraduate Certificate cannot be conferred once accreditation expires.

The Education Ministers Meeting of the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) (replacing COAG) will review this qualification to decide whether the qualification should continue to be made available after that date.

What will happen to current Undergraduate Certificates courses if the decision is made to keep that qualification type in the AQF?

Should the Undergraduate Certificates be added permanently to the AQF, TEQSA will extend the accreditation period for existing Undergraduate Certificate courses. TEQSA will ensure that the process of extending all current Undergraduate Certificates will be as efficient and streamlined as possible, through relevant guidance and documentation. TEQSA will be in touch with affected providers shortly.

Can we submit an application to accredit a new Undergraduate Certificate before the decision is made to keep that qualification type in the AQF?

Although there is no legal impediment to providers submitting applications for new Undergraduate Certificates between now and the NFRC’s decision, TEQSA encourages providers to wait until the decision is made. This is to ensure that the application and assessment process will be as efficient as possible.

If the Undergraduate Certificate is added permanently to the AQF, how will TEQSA approach ‘short course’ assessments in the future?

Should the Undergraduate Certificate qualification type be added permanently to the AQF, TEQSA is expecting to 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.

Further information about the continuation of the expedited application and assessment process and the introduction of the short course application fees (once the current fee waiver comes to an end) will be made available in due course.