The Australian Government designed the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) to ensure that qualification titles across the country are consistent and represent the same high standards of education.
What is the AQF?
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) establishes the quality of Australian qualifications.The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in the Australian education and training system. It incorporates the quality assured qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.
The AQF was first introduced in 1995 to underpin the national system of qualifications in Australia encompassing higher education, vocational education and training and schools. The background to the AQF is documented here.The many AQF stakeholders include industry and its representative bodies, unions, professional associations and licensing authorities and governments.Ultimately students, graduate and employers, both Australian and international, benefit from the quality qualifications that are built on the requirements of the AQF.
In Australia, education and training is a shared responsibility of all Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. Education, training and employment ministers collectively own and are responsible for the AQF.
The objectives of the AQF are to provide a contemporary and flexible framework that:
- Accommodates the diversity of purposes of Australian education and training now and into the future
- Contributes to national economic performance by supporting contemporary, relevant and nationally consistent qualification outcomes which build confidence in qualifications
- Supports the development and maintenance of pathways which provide access to qualifications and assist people to move easily and readily between different education and training sectors and between those sectors and the labor market
- Supports individuals’ lifelong learning goals by providing the basis for individuals to progress through education and training and gain recognition for their prior learning and experiences
- Underpins national regulatory and quality assurance arrangements for education and training
- Supports and enhances the national and international mobility of graduates and workers through increased recognition of the value and
comparability of Australian qualifications
- Enables the alignment of the AQF with international qualifications frameworks
AQF qualifications by education sector
Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (2–3 years)
|Vocational graduate diploma (1 year)||Doctoral degree (3+ years)|
VET in Schools
Vocational graduate certificate (6 months)
|Masters degree (1–3 years)|
Advanced diploma (6 – 12 months)
|Graduate diploma (1 year)|
Diploma (1 year)
|Graduate certificate (6 months)|
|Certificate IV (1 year)||
Bachelor degree (3 years)
Certificate III (6 months)
Associate degree, advanced diploma (1.5 years)
|Certificate II (6 months)||
Diploma (1 year)
|Certificate I (6 months)|
International students and the AQF
The AQF has advantages for international students. It makes course searches much easier as the qualification titles are the same throughout Australia. This means that you can focus on finding the best course and university for your needs, without also having to spend time looking into what each qualification title means. International students who complete a qualification within the AQF will be able to understand the entrance requirements for higher qualifications, for example if they want to progress from undergraduate to postgraduate study.
The AQF also contributes to the worldwide recognition of Australian qualifications, as it is easy for other countries to understand what level of education each Australian qualification represents. There are a limited number of courses that are not part of the AQF but are also available to international students.
Courses like foundation and bridging courses are designed to help students meet course entry requirements or gain entry to further study resulting in an AQF qualification. See the foundation studies page for more information.
Comparisons between overseas qualifications and AQF qualifications
To find out if your home country qualification satisfies entrance requirements for an Australian course you will need to ask your education provider. There is more information on international qualification recognition here.
A number of regulations and laws are in place to ensure the quality and consistency of Australia’s international education sector. The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 requires institutions that offer courses to international students to meet nationally consistent standards in education quality, facilities and services. The Act ensures that international students receive the same standard of education as Australian students. In addition, institutions that wish to offer education to international students must register with the Australian Government under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Registration with CRICOS requires institutions to demonstrate that their qualifications meet Australian standards.
Private colleges must register with the AQF to be eligible to offer higher education qualifications.
The AQF lists all registered courses and providers at www.aqf.edu.au.