Semester 2 2021 Short courses for non-university higher education providers FAQ's

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On 30 April 2021 the Australian Government announced a package of measures to support the Australian providers most affected by COVID-19 and border closures.

This package includes $26.1 million for 5,000 short course places for domestic students at non‑university higher education providers (NUHEPs) for delivery in Semester 2, 2021.

This is in addition to the 2,500 short course places already allocated to NUHEPs this year, bringing the total number of short course places to 7,500 in 2021.

Questions and answers during the application process are being responded to individually and are published here for transparency. Please refer any further questions regarding this process to CGS@dese.gov.au.

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

The allocation of additional CSPs for short courses is to give more 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 support NUHEPs affected by declines in international student enrolments to pivot delivery to domestic students.

How will the pool of 5,000 places be distributed to non-university higher education providers (NUHEPs)? 

These 5,000 short courses will be 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 any field of education in Semester 2, 2021, are invited to apply to the department by 16 May 2021 to ensure courses can be delivered from Semester 2 2021.

NUHEPs submitting an EOI are required to provide the following: 

  • evidence of the financial impact arising from the decline in international student enrolments on the institution in 2020 that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • number of places sought 
  • proposed courses, by undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and modality (in person or online) and whether the course already has been approved by TEQSA
  • timing of course delivery
  • minimum viable offer of places for the NUHEP. 

The allocation of places will consider 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 may need to seek TEQSA accreditation for any short course offered under this arrangement. More information is available on the Applications for course accreditation for new Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates page of the TEQSA website. 

All Undergraduate Certificates offered must articulate into a higher education qualification at AQF Level 5 (diploma), 6 (advanced diploma) or 7 (undergraduate bachelor’s degree). 

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

No. NUHEPs are able to deliver short courses in all fields of education and any mode of delivery for Semester 2, 2021. 

Is the Minister the decision maker? 

Yes, approval will be sought from the Minister. 

Will short courses affect a provider’s Commonwealth funding? 

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

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 qualification at AQF Level 5 (diploma), 6 (advanced diploma) or 7 (undergraduate bachelor’s degree). 

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

No. 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. 

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

Undergraduate Certificates comprise 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.

The Undergraduate Certificates need to be TEQSA accredited. The course in which the Undergraduate Certificate articulates does not need to be TEQSA accredited. 

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 approved by the department with greater student interest in Semester 2 2021, within the funding envelope of the initial approved allocation. 

Providers will need to seek prior approval from the department if they are considering such a reallocation.

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 2025, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government will review the Undergraduate Certificate before the end of 2024 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 Semester 2 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. The short courses can be delivered on-campus, and online, or a combination of both. 

Will providers be required to offer short courses in limited fields of study? 

The fields of study for the Semester 2, 2021 allocation of short courses will not be restricted.

Are the short courses available for 2021 only? 

Yes, Commonwealth funding for this short course initiative is only available for Semester 2, 2021. 

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

Commonwealth funding for this short course initiative is only available for 2021. It is expected the bulk of teaching and assessments will occur 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. 

Are short courses eligible for Professional Pathway funding?

In accordance with the Commonwealth Grant Scheme Guidelines 2020, these short courses will not be eligible for Professional Pathway funding.

Can providers that operate by trimester offer short courses? 

Yes, noting Commonwealth funding for this short course initiative is only available in 2021 and it is expected the bulk of teaching and assessments will occur in 2021. The department understands that timeframes for course delivery varies between providers, including trimester-based or other non-semester-based approaches. 

The detailed field of education for my course does not appear in the drop-down list in the application from. Does this affect the course’s eligibility? Can the I still proceed with my application? 

Yes, you can still proceed. Semester 2 2021 short courses are not restricted by field of education. If you see a dropdown menu, you are using an older version of the application form. Please download the latest application form from the department’s website.

Will the department only consider proposals for Undergraduate Certificates or Graduate Certificates, or can a provider propose micro-credentials or units that lead to an Undergraduate or Graduate Certificate?

Providers may only apply for funding for Undergraduate Certificate and Graduate Certificate courses. Standalone micro-credentials and units that lead to one of these qualifications are not eligible to receive funding in this round. 

Are NUHEPs required to be approved for FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP to apply for an allocation of short course places? If so, can an application for this round of short course places be submitted before receiving approval for FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP?

To be eligible for short course funding, a higher education provider must be approved under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA). Under section 16-1 of HESA, a higher education provider is a provider approved under Division 16. Approved higher education providers are able to offer Commonwealth assistance such as Commonwealth supported places and loans under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) including HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP.

As a typical FEE-HELP approval assessment takes over six months, a provider that has not yet engaged with the FEE-HELP application process would be unlikely to receive approval in time to be eligible for this round of CSP short course offerings.

More information regarding the FEE-HELP provider approval process is available.

When I include details of 2021 short course delivery in my application, should I include courses that were offered before 2021 and do I include courses that do not currently have students enrolled?

In the application form, under the “2021 Short Course delivery” tab, please only include short courses that have been offered during 2021 including courses that do not currently have students enrolled. 

Will Undergraduate Certificates be offered past 2021? If not, what are the implications for students that are enrolled in an Undergraduate Certificate short course in 2021, but do not complete it by 31 December 2021?

Education and Skills Ministers agreed to extend availability of the Undergraduate Certificate until 30 June 2025. This means students enrolled in an undergraduate short course supported under this measure (Semester 2, 2021 Short Courses) who did not complete it by 31 December 2021 will still be able to complete their course in early 2022, as long as the bulk of teaching and census dates has occurred in 2021.

The Government will review the Undergraduate Certificate before the end of 2024 to determine its suitability to become a permanent part of the AQF.  

Are TAFEs eligible for short course funding in this round?

No, TAFEs are not eligible for short course funding in this round.  

What does ‘delivered places to date’ and ‘delivered EFTSL to date’ mean on the application form?

In the ‘2021 Short Course Delivery’ page of the spreadsheet, under the column ‘delivered places to date’ we are looking for the individual enrolments/headcount for short courses that are being offered in 2021.

Under the column ‘delivered EFTSL to date’ should be populated with total EFTSL post-census in each course offered in 2021.

Does the Undergraduate Certificate need to be separately accredited by TEQSA or is it sufficient that the four units come from an existing course of study?

Undergraduate Certificates comprise 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.

The undergraduate certificate will need to be accredited separately to the existing course of study.

For any queries regarding accreditation, please consult TEQSA at enquiries@teqsa.gov.au. More information regarding accreditation is available.

Does ‘short courses will not be restricted by field of study’ mean that courses that fall outside of areas of national priority be offered?

Yes. Unlike previous allocations of short courses, this offering will not be restricted to areas of national priority.

When would successful providers be able to promote their courses to students?

If successful, it would be reasonable for providers to start promoting once the Department has informed them that they have received an allocation of places including the number of places and approved courses. However until a funding agreement is put in place and signed by both the Commonwealth and the institution, under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 they cannot advise students they are Commonwealth supported or receive payments yet. Once successful providers have been informed, the Department will prioritise putting funding agreements in place.

If providers have previously offered short courses in 2021 without Commonwealth funding, should they be entered into sheet 2 or sheet 3 of the application form?

In sheet 2 of the application form, providers should only list any short courses offered in 2021 that received Commonwealth funding, if they did not offer any short courses that received Commonwealth funding they should tick the box titled ‘Short courses are not currently being provided during 2021’.

Providers should only list any courses they intend to offer as part of the Semester 2, 2021 allocation of short courses in sheet 3.

If a provider has seen growth over the assessment period, however one campus has seen a meaningful decline, should only data for the single campus be provided in the application?

The upcoming allocation of short courses aims to assist non-university higher education providers (NUHEPs) who have been adversely affected by the loss of international students due to COVID-19. As such the assessment process will be reviewing NUHEPs as a whole, as opposed to individual campuses.

A provider should list data for their organisation as a whole, however if they feel that it may benefit their application they are welcome to use the free text fields in sheet 3 to include specific data on their campus that is seeing a decline.

Does ELICOS qualify as a short course?

To qualify, providers may only apply for funding for Undergraduate Certificate and Graduate Certificate courses, other credentials or units that lead to these qualifications are not eligible to receive funding in this round.

By what date should providers be informed they have been allocated places?

The Department aims to inform successful applicants and have funding agreements in place in June 2021.