Understanding Australian Qualifications
In Australia OHS qualifications are offered at the vocational level and at the higher education level.
Vocational qualifications are provided by Technical and Further Education Institutions (TAFE) which are government funded and by private registered training organisations (RTOs). These qualifications are Certificate IV in OHS, Diploma in OHS and Advanced Diploma.
The learning outcomes for these qualifications are established by nationally endorsed competencies but the provider of the training is responsible for structuring the learning program, the learning materials and the delivery of the learning. The training providers are audited by the state training authority against standards set by the Australian Quality Training Framework which covered administrative and quality processes.
Higher education qualifications are provided by universities and include bachelor degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master by course work or by research and doctor or philosophy or professional doctorates. These programs are developed according to each university's internal procedures. The home facility for OHS programs varies with different universities and includes faculties of science, engineering and health. The emphasis, content, and approach often varies according to the home faculty.
Certificate IV (12 to 18 months)
The Certificate IV provides breadth, depth and complexity of knowledge and competencies that cover a broad range of varied activities, in a variety of contexts that are usually complex and non-routine. The graduate is expected to be able to demonstrate leadership and guidance of themselves and others, as well as contributing to technical solutions of a non-routine or contingency nature.
They will have to demonstrate performance in a broad range of skilled applications including evaluating and analysing current practices, developing new criteria and procedures for performing current practices. In addition to showing leadership and guiding others, they are expected to accept responsibility for others and demonstrate limited organisational skills.
Diploma (18 to 24 months)
Diploma study involves breadth, depth and complexity covering planning and initiation of alternative approaches to skills or knowledge applications across a broad range of technical and/or management requirements, evaluation and co-ordination. Diploma holders will be capable of self-directed application of knowledge and skills, with substantial depth in some areas where judgement is required in planning and selecting appropriate equipment, services and techniques.
A diploma student will participate in the development of strategic initiatives and take personal responsibility and autonomy in performing complex technical operations or organising others. Participation in teams both in routine work and undertaking planning and evaluation tasks is expected. Group or team coordination may be involved.
Advanced Diploma (2 to 3 years)
This study involves breadth, depth and complexity involving analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation across a broad range of technical and/or management functions. Skills include developing new criteria or application or knowledge or procedures. You will learn to apply a significant range of fundamental principles and complex techniques across a wide and often unpredictable variety of contexts in relation to either varied or highly specific functions. Also involved is contributing to the development of a broad plan, budget or strategy. You will learn to be accountable and take responsibility for yourself and others in achieving outcomes.
Bachelor Degree (3 years) Bachelor Degree (Honours)4 years
The Bachelor degree is the fundamental university qualification and is the basic qualification for entry to many professions.
This study involves acquiring a systematic and coherent body of knowledge, its underlying principles and concepts, and associated problem-solving techniques. The graduate will develop the academic skills and attitudes to comprehend and evaluate new information, concepts and evidence from a wide range of sources. They will also develop the ability to review, consolidate, extend and apply the knowledge and techniques learnt.
This study usually involves major studies in an area where significant literature is available. Course content is to a significant depth and progressively developed to a high level, preparing students for further post-graduate study if desired.
A Bachelor Degree with honours takes an additional year after a Bachelor Degree. Honours may also be granted where outstanding achievement is recorded in a Bachelor Degree course of four or more years.
Graduate Certificates (6 months FT/12 months PT)
The Graduate Certificate typically involves broadening individual skills already gained in an undergraduate program, or developing vocational knowledge and skills in a new professional area.
Graduate Diplomas (1 year FT/@2 years PT)
The Graduate Diploma either broadens individual skills obtained in an undergraduate program or develops vocational knowledge and skills in a new professional area. This qualification can also be described as further specialisation within a systematic and coherent body of knowledge.
In OHS, the graduate certificate is usually ‘embedded' in the graduate diploma so that those who complete one year PT receive a graduate certificate while those who complete the two years receive a graduate diploma.
Masters Degree (1 to 2 years FT, or 2 years PT when added to the course work for graduate diploma)
The Masters Degree involves enhancing specific professional or vocational skills. The Masters Degree is typically gained by research or coursework or a combination. Study involves acquiring in-depth understanding of a specific area of knowledge usually by independent research.
In OHS the masters degree in often linked with a Graduate Diploma providing the course work component of the masters.
Doctoral Degree (typically 3 years FT up to 6 years PT)
The Doctoral Degree is the highest award offered by Australian universities. Although it is a research degree, some programs may have a course work component. There are three components to a Doctoral Degree:
- a searching review of the literature, experimentation or other systemic approach to a body of knowledge;
- an original research project resulting in a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding and/or the application of knowledge within a discipline or field of study; and
- a substantial and well-ordered thesis, demonstrating the relationship of the research to the broader framework of the discipline or field of study.