Short Courses 2021 Provider FAQs

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In 2021, the Australian Government is providing:

  • 50,000 additional Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) for higher education short courses across a range of disciplines,
  • 12,000 undergraduate CSPs for national priority places, and
  • 300 CSPs for national priority (innovative) places.

These places will support students, and the recently unemployed, to undertake higher education in order to prepare our nation and workforce to move out of recession, and will help Australians to retrain and upskill in national priority areas including teaching, health, science, information technology and agriculture.

Why has the Government allocated additional CSPs for higher education short courses?

The allocation of additional CSPs for short courses is to give additional options for students and the recently unemployed to undertake higher education, preparing our nation and workforce to move out of the economic downturn.

It will also ensure Australians are assisted to retrain and upskill in national priority areas including teaching, health, science, information technology and agriculture thereby creating Australia’s future job ready graduates in these areas.

How will the additional CSPs for higher education short courses be allocated?

The additional CSPs for higher education short courses in 2021 will be allocated as follows:

  • 50,000 higher education short course CSPs across a range of disciplines. Of the total available places:
    • 47,500 places will be allocated to TEQSA registered universities, in all disciplines
    • 2,500 places will be allocated to non-university higher education providers, restricted to fields of education identified as national priority areas.
  • 12,000 commencing undergraduate CSPs will be allocated for higher education courses of study, for fields of education identified as national priority (e.g. teaching, health, science, and information technology).
  • 300 commencing CSPs for higher education courses in national priorities (Innovative places).

The additional CSPs for national priority courses will be allocated to successful TEQSA registered universities that provide these courses which are industry-linked and offered on the basis of advanced apprenticeship models, work integrated learning or industry-related curricula in line with the objectives of the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund.

Applications are now closed.

How will the pool of 47,500 places be distributed to registered TEQSA universities?

These 47,500 short courses are allocated through a competitive merit‑based process. Registered TEQSA universities interested in seeking an allocation of Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) to deliver short higher education courses in any fields of education in 2021, were asked to apply to the department by 27 November 2020 to ensure courses could be provided to Commonwealth supported students from 1 January 2021.

The method of allocation of short course places to eligible universities is based on an evaluation of the proposed course offering taking into consideration certain factors (e.g. proportions of students from regions) and taking into account numbers of places bid for by each eligible university.

After universities have been allocated short course places, they are required to progressively provide updates on the utilisation of their allocated proportion of places on a monthly basis.

These places will be allocated through a competitive merit‑based process with no guarantee that every EOI will be allocated places.

How will the pool of 2,500 places be distributed to non-university higher education providers (NUHEPs)?

These 2,500 short courses are allocated through a competitive merit-based process. NUHEPs interested in seeking an allocation of Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) to deliver short higher education courses in national priority fields of education in 2021, were asked to apply to the department by 20 November 2020 to ensure courses could be provided to Commonwealth supported students from January 2021. NUHEPs submitting an EOI were required to provide the following:

  • number of places sought;
  • proposed courses, by undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and modality;
  • timing of course delivery; and
  • minimum viable offer of places for the provider.

The allocation of places considered NUHEPs’ attrition rates, student outcomes and satisfaction, labour relevance, and ability to utilise previous 2020 short course CSPs allocations where relevant.

Providers that are not self-accrediting authorities will need to seek TEQSA accreditation for any short course offered under this arrangement. All short courses offered must articulate to higher education qualification, be it a diploma, advanced diploma or undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

After NUHEPs have been allocated short course places, they are required to progressively provide updates on the utilisation of their allocated places on a monthly basis.

How will the pools of 12,000 National Priority Places and 300 Innovative Places be distributed?

National Priority Places (NPP) and Innovative Places (IP) are available to universities and university colleges. These places are allocated through a competitive merits‑based process with no guarantee that every EOI will be allocated places.

Universities and university colleges interested in seeking an allocation of NPPs and/or IPs to deliver national priority courses in 2021 were asked to apply to the department by 27 November 2020 to ensure courses could be provided to Commonwealth supported students from January 2021. Universities and university colleges submitting an EOI were asked to provide the following:

  • A course description of the national priority course
  • The number of places sought for the national priority courses
  • Details about the necessary industry linkages to support the places
  • the proposed innovative projects for consideration of IPs (note: only applicable if a university or university college is seeking allocation of IPs)

The bidding process for allocation of these places takes into account:

  • strength of industry linkages (e.g. advanced apprenticeships for young people and work integrated learning)
  • relevance to the labour market (e.g. skills needs and gaps, and job creation prospects)
  • support for the aims of the new National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF)
  • proportions of students from regional areas.

After universities and university colleges have been allocated NPPs and IPs, they are required to progressively provide updates on the utilisation of their allocated places on a monthly basis.

What are the national priority areas of education?

The national priorities areas of education are Teaching, Nursing, Psychology, Mathematical Sciences, Agriculture, Allied Health and Other Health, Counselling, Information Technology, Languages, Architecture and Building, Science, Engineering and Related Technologies, Medical Science, and Environmental Studies.

What labour market relevance criteria would the Government use to assess an application for short courses?

This assessment criterion considers the labour market relevance of proposed 2021 short courses such as meeting priority or local areas of unemployment that you are trying to address with the courses. This may either be regionally or in respect of national labour market skill needs and gaps, as well as prospects for job creation.

Will there be any limitations applied in the allocation of the additional CSPs on providers for short courses?

All eligible universities allocated short course places are able to expand on the short courses they delivered in 2020 in all fields of education for 2021.

Non-university higher education providers are restricted to short courses in national priority areas, as per 2020.

Are the National Priority places being funded on an ongoing basis?

The 12,000 National Priority Places are commencing, undergraduate CSPs in 2021 with, pipelines places for 2022 to 2024. This equates to an additional 32,813 CSPs over the period to 2024.

What is the difference between the allocation of the 12,000 National Priority places and the 300 Innovative places?

The 12,000 National Priority places are a one-off allocation of places in commencing courses in 2021.

The 300 Innovative places are an ongoing allocation of 300 places in commencing courses each year.

What year is this application for National Priority and Innovative places for?

The National Priority and Innovative places application is for commencing courses in 2021.

Is the Minister the decision maker?

Yes, approval will be sought from the Minister.

Will short courses and priority places affect a provider’s Commonwealth funding?

Short course and priority place applications are a separate allocation to any other Commonwealth funding providers receive.

Can providers swap CSPs between National Priority Places and Innovative Places if approved for both?

Once approved, providers are not permitted to transfer places between NPPs and IPs.

Are the National Priority places and Innovative places restricted the undergraduate courses?

National Priority and Innovative Places are restricted to undergraduate courses (AQF7). The reference to post graduate courses in the guidelines was incorrect and has been corrected.

In the assessment criteria, what does ‘compliance activity’ refer to?

This assessment criterion applies to EOI applicants who have pending or current compliance activities, which are being investigated by the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency or the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Those compliance activities will be taken into account during the assessment of a provider’s EOI for short courses and/or National Priority Places in 2021.

What higher education awards can a short course lead to?

Short courses are restricted to courses leading to either an Undergraduate Certificate or a Graduate Certificate.

Undergraduate Certificates must articulate into a higher education award at AQF Level 5, 6 or 7, e.g. a diploma, advanced diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.

What does "undergraduate and postgraduate offerings will be balanced in the final allocations" mean in terms of allocation of undergraduate and postgraduate short courses?

The balance between undergraduate and postgraduate certificates will be based on the demand in the proportion of undergraduate and postgraduate short courses requested for 2021.

If a Graduate certificate short course articulates into longer higher education degree, does the student need to be Commonwealth Supported in the longer degree?

If the short course articulates into a postgraduate course, you do not need to consider whether the postgraduate course is Commonwealth supported.

Can short courses articulate to awards other than an Undergraduate Certificate or Graduate Certificate?

Short courses must lead to either an Undergraduate Certificate or a Graduate Certificate.

The Undergraduate Certificate must articulate into a higher education award at AQF Level 5, 6 or 7, e.g. a diploma, advanced diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.

The Graduate Certificate may also articulate into another higher award, but this is not a requirement.

What does ‘short courses must be TEQSA accredited’ mean?

If a provider is not a self-accrediting body, any short courses included in a short course application must draw from units from an existing TEQSA accredited undergraduate or postgraduate course. The short course must also be separately accredited by TEQSA. Information on short course accreditation can be found on the Applications for course accreditation for new Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates page of the TEQSA website.

Short courses which are still undergoing accreditation and subject to approval by TEQSA can be included in the EOI Application. In the application, you must note the following:

  • the short course is undergoing accreditation including when it commenced; and
  • the expected date for the short course to be accredited and approved.

After submitting the EOI application and prior to commencement of delivery of the short courses, please notify and provide supporting documentation of the short course’s accreditation approval (including the approval date) to the Department at HELP.Policy@dese.gov.au.

Allocation of short courses may be conditional, contingent on accreditation being received prior to the commencement of the course.

What does ‘undergraduate certificates must articulate into a diploma, advanced diploma or bachelor’s degree’ mean?

Undergraduate Certificates may be four units from an existing course of study, which will enable students to move into the higher qualification course (e.g. a diploma, advanced diploma, or a bachelor’s degree), after completion of the undergraduate certificate.

Courses that Undergraduate Certificates articulate into need to be a higher education qualification, but do not need to be TEQSA accredited.

Are short course Graduate Certificate CSPs subject to the same criteria for assessing postgraduate CSPs?

While the usual criteria for assessing postgraduate CSPs is different to that of short course CSPs, the labour market relevance of the qualification will be a major factor used to assess any short course application, whether it relates to postgraduate or undergraduate courses.

What Commonwealth funding would providers receive beyond the student fee for a full fee paying Graduate Certificate course?

This initiative does not provide Commonwealth funding for full fee-paying Graduate Certificate courses. This 2021 short course initiative provides a limited number of Commonwealth Supported Places in short courses, for which eligible students may be able to access HECS-HELP assistance.

Domestic students in a fee-paying place in a Graduate Certificate may be eligible for FEE-HELP assistance.

Would providers have any flexibility to reallocate places from lower demand courses to other courses with greater student interest?

It may be possible for providers to reallocate their places from lower demand short courses to other short courses with greater student interest in 2021, subject to notification to and approval by the department, within the funding envelope of the initial allocation.

What is the Undergraduate Certificate?

The Undergraduate Certificate is a higher education award that has been formalised into the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) until the end of 2021, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government will review the Undergraduate Certificate before the end of 2021 to determine its suitability to become a permanent part of the AQF.

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.

More information about the Undergraduate Certificate is available on the Applications for course accreditation for new Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates page of the TEQSA website.

Can providers enrol students in short courses on a part time basis?

Although there is no requirement that short course enrolments are full-time, Commonwealth funding for this short course initiative is only available for 2021. The department understands that timeframes for course delivery vary between providers. The department supports the flexible delivery of short courses, including trimester-based or other non-semester based approaches.

Will providers be required to offer only online short courses?

No restriction applies on the mode of delivery for the short courses. Providers will be able to have additional CSPs for higher education short courses that are delivered on-campus, and online, or a combination of both.

Are the short course available for 2021 only?

Yes, Commonwealth funding for this short course initiative is only available for 2021.

Can a student continue in a short course CSP beyond 2021?

Commonwealth funding for this short course initiative is only available for 2021. Any remaining short course units that are commenced in 2022 would not be Commonwealth supported.

Is there any limit placed on how many short courses a student can complete in 2021?

The department places no limit on the number of short courses that an individual student can complete in 2021. However, from 1 January 2021 students will be ineligible for Commonwealth assistance (CSP or HELP) if they have exceeded 2 EFTSL of Commonwealth assisted study supported by HELP loans in the previous 12 months, unless assessed as academically suitable by their provider. Study in short courses in excess of 2 EFTSL in 2021 may therefore affect a student’s eligibility for Commonwealth assisted study in 2022.

This new study limit was part of the Government’s Job-ready Graduates reform package included in the Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Act 2020, which achieved royal assent on 27 October 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions about the measures contained in this Act are available on the department’s website. The Administrative Information for Providers will also be updated with further information about this and other measures from the Act that commence in 2021.

Are short course CSPs funded on a unit of study basis?

Yes, CSP funding for short courses will be calculated on a unit of study basis.

The 2021 short course funding information refers to 1 EFTSL. Will the department be providing funding information based on 0.5 EFTSL?

The department will not be providing a funding information based on 0.5 EFTSL.

The Maximum Student Contribution Amounts and the Commonwealth Contribution Amounts are based on 1 EFSTL in the 2021 Allocation of units of study to funding clusters document. Diving these amounts in half will provide the funding for a course of 0.5 EFTSL.

Does the six month timeframe for a short course include teaching breaks/ trimesters?

Yes, the six month timeframe will include breaks in teaching periods.

What is the allowance for students who need to re-enrol in a short course due to a fail grade?

If a student has received a fail grade for the short course in 2021 then the student may re-enrol in the course provided that the course is still available in 2021. The student will still incur a HELP loan for the failed course as census date would have already passed, and will be treated in line with regular procedures in respect of a failed course. A student that re-enrols in a short course will incur another loan if the student defers their study fees for the course.

My short course information is no longer available on the Course Seeker website. When will Course Seeker be updated?

Short course information has been removed from Course Seeker if the courses have completed.

How will the short courses be uploaded to Course Seeker?

The Course Seeker website will publish the short courses offered as part of the 2020 Jobs Ready Graduates package.

Once your allocation has been approved by the Department, you will need to submit your short course offerings to your local Tertiary Admissions Centre who will process these as part of their regular, business as usual, course upload process. These courses will then be published on Course Seeker and updated as courses transition into a closed status.

Questions or concerns on this part of the process should be sent to the Course Seeker team at courseseeker@dese.gov.au.

Information on the Jobs Ready Graduates package

For more information, visit the Jobs Ready Graduates Package page.

Can we choose and advertise a closing date for applications through Course Seeker?

Yes, it is possible to advertise a closing date. During the Course Seeker publication process you will be asked to indicate a closing date and once that date is past the course will appear with a start date of ‘closed’.

How quickly after that does advertising go up on Course Seeker?

Discussions finalising the publication process are currently taking place with the Tertiary Admission Centres and we hope to provide these details shortly.