Higher-Education Sector Response to COVID-19

The Australian higher education sector has agreed to take a joint approach to effectively and successfully manage the coronavirus pandemic. In a Joint Statement published today, the sector’s peak bodies outline the principles they believe will meet community expectations for public health and safety while mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on higher education teaching, learning, assessment, placement and graduate mobility.

The shared concern of the Australian higher-education sector that effectively managing during the COVID-19 pandemic is key to the well-being of a fair, equitable and prosperous Australia led to the Joint Statement outlining consensus-based principles for adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic in the following areas:

  1. Accreditation Flexibility and maintaining Course Quality
  2. Maintaining Quality during changed Teaching and Learning
  3. Supporting Online Assessments while maintaining Rigour
  4. Mitigating a reduced availability of Professional Placements
  5. Flexibility on (Re-)Registration/Accreditation of Professionals
  6. Maintaining International Accords for Professionals’ Mobility

The Joint Statement authors were also mindful that in managing the post-COVID-19 pandemic situation, the learnings from the many innovative approaches taken should not be lost so that the sector can effectively benefit from the rich substrate of experiences gained during the pandemic.

The following peak bodies are signatories to the Joint Statement:

The Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) was directly engaged with the creation of the Joint Statement. The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) welcomes and supports the creation of a joint statement of principles to guide professional accreditation during the COVID-19 pandemic and will refer to the statement in its own course accreditation activities.

In a letter to ACoP dated 1 May 2020, Minister for Education Tehan welcomed our initiative to develop a Joint Statment, in particular at a time when it is important to maximise flexibility and reduce regulatory burdon wherever possible. The Minister notes that it is pleasing that we also covered the impact on students regarding the availability of placements, practicums and/or work experience opportunities. The Minister also invites updates and feedback from ACoP on the implementation of the Joint Statement including how Government might be able to assist or address any particular matters of concern.

The Australian Council of Professions is delighted to have found sector-wide support for our initiative to develop the Higher Education COVID-19 Joint Statement” said ACoP President Klaus Veil. “This broad consensus ensures that the education, work experience, graduation, registration and mobility of Australian Professionals is maintained in these difficult times.

The Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) is pleased to support this Joint Statement as it highlights the impact of the COVID pandemic on work integrated learning (WIL) and particularly the reduced availability of professional placements” said ACEN President Franziska Trede. “The new solutions emerging due to the pandemic are already evidence of stronger collaborative partnerships between universities, industry and professional accreditation bodies and the advancement of WIL”.

We agree to work in partnership with each other and with government to adapt higher education courses and registration/accreditation to mitigate and minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while upholding the continuity, integrity and reputation of Australian higher education and recognising its indispensable contribution to Australia’s well-being and prosperity.

Joint Statement of Principles for the Higher Education Sector COVID-19 Response, 5 May 2020

Download the Joint Statement here


If you have questions on the Joint Statement or wish to provide comments and/or feedback, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.

Education & Employability

This initiative seeks to explore the future of learning and employability to support a fair, equitable, socially cohesive and prosperous Australia. Led by the Australian Council of Professions, it brings together educators, the professions and industry in a collaborative conversation of thought leaders from various vantage points to explore and draft a Statement of Principles.
The Statement could inform thinking and policy about how Australia’s education ecosystem needs to adapt to accommodate industry needs into the future, promote social cohesion and enable citizens across the lifespan – regardless of their place or starting point – to find and create work.

Next Steps

As a result of the current coronavirus situation, our next face-to-face working session planned for April 2020 cannot proceed. We are now looking at other ways to hold this session.


Satellite Discussion Session

Our November 2019 Round-Table had brought together thought leaders who drafted a Statement of Intent for a National Strategy to evolve Australia’s education ecosystem to accommodate industry needs, promote social cohesion and enable citizens across the lifespan – regardless of their place or starting point. A follow-on session titled “Towards a National Strategy for Education and Employability for Australia’s Industry 4.0” (download Programme here) at the National Library of Australia in Canberra on 25 February 2020 was by all accounts highly successful with ~150 registrations.

Convened by our President Klaus Veil, the broad range of speakers elicited very interesting discussions and the session participants appreciated being able to “look at the topic through various prisms“. The resolution was that we were asked to keep the groundswell and momentum going!

We thank the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) for their generous partnership and support of this event.


Stakeholder Consultation Sessions

The objective of these four sessions was to disseminate the themes discussed at the November 2019 Round-Table and to unpack these themes for those who were not able to attend as well as to garner interest and views from the broader community.
Canberra: 4 Feb. 2020 (1:30 – 4:30pm)
Melbourne: 11 Feb. 2020 (2:00 – 5:00pm)
Sydney: 18 Feb. 2020 (1:30 – 4:30pm)
Perth: tbc
The consultation sessions were seen by the participants as very useful with the quality of the contributions and discourse as well as senior buy-in of the 46 participants most impressive. The unanimous view is that “Education and Employability” is a big challenge for the professions and professionals and no other organisation or govt currently has a policy for this.

We thank Engineers Australia, DeakinCo and Navitas for their generous support of these events.


1st Education & Employability Round-Table

The inaugural Round-Table on Education and Employability was held on 19 November 2019 in Sydney. Invited were higher education providers, the professions, industry, govt. regulators and related organisations. The initial focus was on exploring a common goal of the initiative in the context of the future of education, employability and work in Australia’s Industry 4.0. Inspired work by the Round-Table participants ably facilitated by Prof Beverley Oliver and Prof Sally Kift resulted in this Joint Statement of Intent:

“We in Education and Industry undertake to work together to create and drive an Integrated Continuous Learning Strategy to achieve a fair and prosperous Australia.”

The next steps that were agreed are to promulgate and validate this Joint Statement more widely. Stakeholder Consultation Sessions in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Perth are envisaged.

We thank Navitas for their generous support of this event.

Call 1300 664 587 or contact CEO@Professions.org.au to find out more!

History

This initiative originated in 2018 in discussions of concerned educators, professionals and industry representatives involved with Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) regarding effectively implementing approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum. The overall aim was to improve the employability of graduates by giving them practical experience which is directly related to the courses they study.

In 2015, a National Strategy on Work-Integrated Learning had been published to increase opportunities to participate in WIL, recognising the benefits to students, employers, universities and the economy.

It was felt that it would be useful to bring together national thought leaders from industry, professional associations and the higher education sector to identify current and future workplace needs.  This conversation might be able to provide industry leadership and inform policy and regulatory settings to ensure the quality delivery of education to “Industry 4.o”.


Relevant Background Documents

Future Skills Report (AlphaBeta)
Australian Jobs 2019 (Dept. of Jobs and Small Business)
Skilling – A National Imperative (AIG)
Making Micro-Credentials Work (DeakinCo)
The Best Chance for All – Student Equity 2030 (NCSEHE)
AQF Review 2019 – Final Report (Dept. of Education)
Accelerating Skills Acquisition in the Age of Intelligent Technologies (Accenture)
Accelerating Skills Acquisition in the Age of Intelligent Technologies (Deloitte)
Path to Prosperity. Why the Future of Work is Human (Deloitte)
‘Enabling Excellence through Equity’ Conference 2019
Credentials and the Future of Learning (UAC)
Case Study: 3D Virtual Workplace

Micro-Credentials Principles

The Australian Council of Professions continues to progress the creation of a Principles of Micro-Credentials document with broad-based input from the Professions and other stakeholders.

Our activities so far have been:

The next steps will be the compilation of information, references and views to form a Micro-Credentials Principles and Practice document.

AQF Review Submission

Our 2018 AQF Review Terms of Reference Session is was followed‐up in early 2019 with our active participation in the “Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Review” lead by Prof. Peter Noonan who also keynoted at our inaugural National Summit on Micro‐Credentialing and Accreditation in Melbourne. We supported a targeted Review Session for Professional Associations, submitted formal recommendations on behalf of our Member Associations and enabled our Member Associations to directly converse about our Submission with the AQF Review Panel.

Our submisssion is at https://submissions.education.gov.au/Forms/AQF2019/Documents/109-Professions-Australia.pdf

Micro-Credentials Round-Tables

The Australian Council of Profession’s inaugural series of Community of Practice Round-Table meetings continue the discussions and discourse that began at the Micro-Credentials National Summit in March 2019



The intent of these Round-Tables is:

  • to investigate how Professional Associations can develop relevant standards and accreditation practices that best support the implementation of micro-credentialing within CPD/CPE offerings, both in formal and non-formal award settings.
  • to explore the ways in which Professional Association CPD/CPE offerings can be linked to Professional Practice credentialing to address:
    – Life-long career learning
    – Engagement in the Professional Association community
    – Drive membership opportunities

Current definitions of the various micro-credentialing models are both confusing and varied. The way learning and training is recognized, accredited and validated is also changing with intrinsic on-the-job skills and best practices providing the most value and benefit to association members.

How can Professional Associations assist in developing a common language to best underpin this new educational landscape? How can we clearly define the differences between badging for learning and credentialing skills capability capture?

Professional Associations face a common challenge — how to remain relevant and expand their footprint in their particular domain. Success depends on the ability to create value for their brand. This free Round-Table is your opportunity to work with your peers within the Australian Council of Professions to determine how best to provide accreditation oversight of how Professional Practice credentials can help Associations address these common challenges.

Who should attend:
– Leaders of Professional Associations
– Directors of Professional Standards
– Heads of CPD/CPE Programmes

What you will take away from the Round-Table:

  • The common language that needs to be adopted to better understand the various models of micro-credentialing.
  • The types of Standards need to be developed around Micro-Credentialing
  • The Accreditation Practices that should underpin Micro-Credentialing


The generous support of the Australian Computer Society is gratefully acknowledged!

Accreditation Systems Review (ASR)

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2016 commissioned an Independent Review of Accreditation Systems (ASR) to explore and address concerns about cost, transparency, duplication and prescriptive approaches to accreditation functions.

The final report was considered by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) and publicly released in October 2018. We were invited to comment and submitted extensive comments from our Members in February 2019.

PA and UA sign Joint Statement on Accreditation

Professions Australia and Universities Australia, the national peak body of the 39 public universities, have signed the Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation, a landmark agreement that will deliver greater clarity on the respective roles of universities and professional accreditation bodies to ensure graduates are best qualified for the professions they seek to enter.

The formal signing took place at Universities Australia’s flagship annual conference, which brought together more than 800 senior leaders from the university sector, business, policy and politics. Our President Michael Catchpole (front left) and Chair of Universities Australia, Professor Barney Glover, signed the Joint Statement which streamlines and improves consistency in the professional accreditation of university courses – essential to ensuring that graduates from professional degrees are ready for entry into the workforce. The agreement clearly defines the role of professional accreditation and the respective responsibilities of universities and professional accreditation bodies.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said that the agreement between the two peak bodies would benefit both students and professionals. “Enhancing national consistency in accreditation standards and processes at the discipline level will help to improve graduate mobility between States,” she said. “Professional employers around the country will be able to be even more confident that all graduates meet their standards.

Professions Australia (aka Australian Council of Professions – ACoP) Chief Executive Officer Liz Lang said that Joint Statement will further improve the competencies and job-readiness of graduates for entry into professional practice. “Universities and professional accreditation bodies will contribute to graduate quality according to their strengths. For the professional accreditation bodies, it is a focus on the capabilities, knowledge, ethics and professional standards needed for entry to the profession – while universities will focus on providing the best, cutting-edge educational design and course delivery. The statement is also an excellent example of how universities and the professions can work together to successfully self-regulate” Ms Lang said.

The members of Professions Australia and Universities Australia place a high priority on pursuing initiatives to enhance quality within the professions and to increase the contribution the professions make to the broader community.  While recognising that the overall professional accreditation process is a wider public good, Universities Australia and Professions Australia acknowledge that the immediate beneficiaries of robust professional accreditation processes are students and professionals.

Download the Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation here.

Read the joint Universities Australia and Professions Australia Press Release.

For more information on the Joint Statement and how you can use it in your organisation, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au!