Short courses

It’s boom time for industry-focused short courses

One of the strategic approaches is that of RMIT Online, which this week will announce its Future Skills Credit Pathway to Degrees initiative. The program allows students to stack two microcredits into a single unit which will then be recognized for a graduate certificate or MBA.

However, out of the 40 microloans developed for the program by RMIT Online, only 11 have so far been approved by the academic board. When combined with another academic board-approved microcredit, it is recognized as a single unit for eight postgraduate programs in RMIT’s College of Business and Law and College of Design and Social Context.

Stacking two micro-certificates is also when courses are regulated by the Higher Education Quality and Standards Council.

Helen Souness, CEO of RMIT Online, said last year more than 7,000 students had taken short courses, with growing numbers returning for a second round.

“Our goal is to serve the lifelong learner who now needs to improve their skills throughout their career,” she said.

Professor Oliver said she was now awaiting the government’s response to a australian qualifications framework exam. The review recommended that the government develop guidelines to facilitate the recognition of short form credentials, including
microcredits.

Currently, only three institutions allow students to earn all their credit points towards a graduate certificate by accumulating micro-certificates.

“The University of Southern Queensland, Charles Sturt University and Curtin University have let their microcredit graduates mix and match to create their own postgraduate certificate,” Prof Oliver said.

“It’s good because it allows people to follow their own interests and if they don’t want a formal qualification, that’s fine. But others, having obtained a graduate certificate, can continue in a master’s program.

A report commissioned by RMIT found that the economy will need 156,000 more digital technology workers, representing one in four jobs created over the next four years.

The Deloitte Access Economics report found that people who have engaged in micro-certifications are more likely to view the training they have taken as relevant to their job.

While universities are adopting micro-certificates at a rapid pace, their fee levels are not competitive with other providers. Fundamentals of digital marketing GarageGoogle is a 40 hour course and is free while the Content Marketing and Social Media RMIT Online Future Skills program course is $990.

“We need a realistic look at how we assess credentials across all sectors,” Prof Oliver said. “Of course universities have to make this a financially viable business and have to cover their costs, but there is a public good.”