Fiji National University (FNU) is working to realign its short courses into accredited micro-qualifications that meet industry needs.
A number of FNU academics participated in the two-day training on developing micro-qualifications which was facilitated by the Education Quality and Assessment Program (EQAP) of the Pacific Community ( SPC).
FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr William May said the training was part of the University’s efforts to continually develop its programs to meet industry demands.
“We must continually streamline and renew our courses and subject portfolios, based on national and regional skills needs and strong evidence of employer, labor market and student demand,” said Dr May. . “This requires us to proactively coordinate with national and regional employers to co-design and continually improve all of our programs,” he said.
FNU Professional Vice-Chancellor Professor of Learning and Teaching Lisa Harrison said course accreditation ensures the university meets quality education standards and therefore serves students well. students from the region.
“Accreditation of micro-qualifications under EQAP ensures that the programs will be recognized across the Pacific, which means that we will be able to offer training to students from other countries,” she said. . “The short course programs are not recognized by any agency in the region except EQAP, which provides the University with a great opportunity to forge a flexible learning path for students, whether they are new or already absorbed by the workforce seeking retraining.”
EQAP Qualifications Team Leader Rajendra Prasad said the regional micro-qualification framework was first developed in 2018 in response to requests from stakeholders. Since then, EQAP has developed three regional micro-qualifications and provided technical support to establish 28 micro-qualifications.
A micro-qualification, in addition to being a small unit of learning (no more than 40 credit points), also includes an assessment component that requires learners to demonstrate their learning or skills. A competency-based micro-qualification sets an even higher standard as the learner can only qualify if they demonstrate all of the expected competencies.
Prasad further explained that a micro-qualification can take between a week and a month.
“One of the distinct characteristics of a micro-qualification is that it can meet short-term industry needs,” he said. “If you’re looking at a full degree, for example, if the industry says we need graduates in a particular field, by the time the degree is written and approved, it’s already been about two or three years. But with a short course and micro-qualifications, you can do it as soon as possible in about one to two weeks and get it approved and accredited and then delivered.
He added that micro-qualifications offered flexibility to companies and trainees as they allowed them to complete courses in a shorter time frame at a reasonable cost.
Tetalo, a lecturer in crop science at the College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF), said there was a growing demand for short courses within the college.
“Short courses aren’t as large as full programs and allow students to learn at their own pace,” she said.
“This training is really important because it allows us to understand the process involved in developing short courses and helps us determine if there is a path for short courses to be credited to major programs.”
The training took place in both the Central and Western Divisions, bringing together academics who facilitate the Technical, Vocational and Pedagogical Training (TVET) courses.