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Content Mapping to Establish Credit Decisions

Credit for prior learning may be awarded for formal, non-formal or informal learning completed at Southern Cross University or in any other learning settings in Australia or overseas.

Frequently asked questions governing content mapping and credit amounts

Policy and Procedures governing content mapping

Please view the Advanced Standing and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy and Section 5 - 'Content Mapping' of the Advanced Standing and Recognition of Prior Learning Procedures, as it relates to Schedule 1 of the Procedure.

What affords SCU's National streamlined approach to content mapping

The following National frameworks, legislation and authorities enable the University to adopt a streamlined approach to Articulation and Advanced Standing, for the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):

Standard credit amounts for cognate learning at SCU

At SCU credit decisions are evidence-based, equitable and transparent, resulting in credit that emulates the course structure and is either:

  • unspecified units or elective credit points;
  • specified units where the units are named; or
  • a combination of unspecified and specified units.

Where prior learning (formal, non-formal or informal) has occurred in a cognate area, standard credit decisions shall occur under Schedule 1.

Credit decisions may only vary from the Schedule 1 amounts due to non-cognate learning, external/professional recognition requirements limiting the amount of credit that can apply, constraint of a mandatory study plan, or greater alignment of comparable learning due to nesting or collaborative course development.

credit is awarded for the highest level of learning achieved.

Case Study 1: If a person has completed a Certificate IV (AQF level 4) and then progressed to another Certificate IV (AQF level 4), any credit awarded will not normally be the sum (or aggregate) of the two. For example:

Incorrect: 1st Certificate IV (4 units of credit) + 2nd Certificate IV (4 units of credit) ≠ 8 units of credit awarded.

Correct: 1st Certificate IV (4 units of credit) + 2nd Certificate IV (4 units of credit) = 4 units of credit awarded.

Here, the Certificate IV is the highest level of learning.

Case Study 2:: If a person has completed a Certificate IV (AQF level 4) and then progressed to Diploma (AQF level 5), any credit awarded will not normally be the sum (aggregate) of the two. For example:

Incorrect: a Certificate IV (4 units of credit) + a Diploma (8 units of credit) ≠ 12 units of credit awarded.

Correct: a Certificate IV (4 units of credit) + a Diploma (8 units of credit) = 8 units of credit awarded.

Here, the Diploma is the highest level of learning.

Case Study 3: If a person has applied to study the SCU Bachelor of Business and they hold a Certificate IV in Business (AQF level 4), and a Diploma of Massage Therapy (AQF level 5), the lowest (Certificate IV) qualification will typically be considered to determine the amount of credit that will be awarded for prior learning, as the field of learning that underpins the Certificate IV in Business mirrors the field of learning in the SCU Bachelor of Business. Any credit awarded into the SCU Bachelor of Business will not normally be the sum (aggregate) of the two. For example:

Incorrect: Certificate IV in Business (4 units of credit) + a Diploma of Massage Therapy (8 units of credit) ≠ 12 units of credit awarded into the Bachelor of Business.

Correct: Certificate IV in Business (4 units of credit) + a Diploma of Massage Therapy (8 units of credit) = 4 units of credit awarded.

In this instance, the Certificate IV in Business is the highest level of cognate learning.

Case Study 4: If a person has completed a Certificate IV in Business (AQF level 4) and has worked as an Operations Manager (at ANZSCO Skill Level 1) for 2 years, which may substitute for holding a Diploma in Management (at AQF level 5), any credit awarded into the SCU Bachelor of Business will not normally be the sum (aggregate) of the two. Credit will be awarded for the highest cognate learning. For example:

Incorrect: Certificate IV in Business (4 units of credit) + informal learning, which is deemed to be equivalent to a Diploma of Management (8 units of credit) ≠ 12 units of credit awarded into the Bachelor of Business.

Correct: Certificate IV in Business (4 units of credit) + informal learning, which is deemed to be equivalent to a Diploma of Management (8 units of credit) = 8 units of credit awarded.

In this instance, the 2 years of informal learning attained on-the-job as an Operations Manager, provides the highest level of cognate learning.

Comparability of learning components to inform credit decisions

The streamlined comparability of key learning components informing SCU credit decisions (articulation arrangements and Advanced Standing precedents) is detailed below in terms of:

  • formal (accredited learning);
  • non-formal (non-accredited learning); and
  • informal (occupational or experiential learning).

SCU Course Coordinators liaise with relevant SCU Unit Assessors and disciplinary specialists from other organisations to compare the key components of the different forms of learning, such as learning outcomes and graduate attributes, to evaluate their equivalence to the AQF Qualification Levels benchmark.

This commences with determining if the prior learning is cognate (being of the same, closely allied or related discipline/field/branch of learning as the SCU course or unit for which RPL is sought). If so, Schedule 1 typically applies.

Components of formal learning for comparison of an accredited course/qualification/award

In Australia, formal learning is classified by the AQF Qualification Levels benchmark.

Formal learning that has occurred overseas, is able to be compared to the AQF Qualification levels using The Department of Education and Training) Country Education Profiles (CEP) (or similar assessment such as the United Kingdom national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills (UK NARIC).

Comparing key components of learning between an SCU course and another accredited course/qualification/award focuses on the comparability of learning outcomes and to a lesser degree graduate attributes, also known as learner attributes or employability skills.

There is no need to establish where the course/qualification/or units fit within the AQF Levels Criteria and Qualification Type Descriptors, as these aspects, including the nomenclature, volume of learning and level of learning (depth of knowledge/skills) are regulated by the AQF specifications and National compliance authorities.

For further details see the Academic Evidence Checklists for AQF and internationally accredited courses/qualifications.

Components of non-formal learning for comparison of non-accredited courses/program

If a short course or program of professional development is non-accredited, the SCU Course Coordinator(s) is required to establish equivalence to the AQF Qualification Levels benchmark, including:

  • where the course/program fits within the AQF levels summaries, learning outcomes criteria and qualification type descriptors by considering the relative volume of learning (pdf) and depth of knowledge/skills (level of learning) within each module, subject or topic area; and
  • if there is sufficient correlation of what the learner knows, understands and is able to do in line with relevant SCU learning outcomes and graduate attributes.

For further details see the Academic Evidence Checklist for non-accredited courses or programs.

Components of informal learning for comparison of occupational or voluntary experience

Informal learning occurring through hours of service in a professional or voluntary capacity or life's passions and experiences is compared to National occupational standards, using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), (or equivalent system).

The detailed occupational structure of ANZSCO indicates the predominant skill level of occupations in Australia and their relationship to the AQF, by number of years of service.

Each ANZSCO Skill Level considers:

  • the level of learning underpinning formal education and training;
  • the amount of previous experience in a related occupation; and
  • the amount of on-the-job training or professional development.

If prior learning has been attained informally through work, a voluntary role, community or leisure activities, the SCU Course Coordinator will:

  • identify the comparable ANZSCO Skill Level by comparing the applicant's occupational responsibilities and tasks to a corresponding ANZSCO occupation;
  • consider the hours of full-time equivalent service undertaken at that level; andundertaken for alignment with a corresponding AQF Qualification Level in Table 1.1; and
  • refer to Table 1.2 in prescribing cognate credit amounts under Schedule 1 of the Procedures.

Table 1.1: General Comparability of ANZSCO Skill Levels to AQF Qualification Levels.

Indicative ANZSCO Skill LevelComparability of ANZSCO Skill Levels to AQF Qualification LevelsMinimum indicative occupational experience required
Skill Level 1Commensurate with an AQF Bachelor Degree (or higher qualification)At least five years of relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualification
Skill Level 2Commensurate with an AQF Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma or DiplomaAt least three years of relevant experience may substitute the formal qualification
Skill Level 3Commensurate with an AQF Certificate IV or IIIAt least two years of relevant experience may substitute the formal qualification
Skill Level 4Commensurate with an AQF Certificate II or IIIAt least one year of relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualification
Skill Level 5Commensurate with an AQF Certificate I or compulsory secondary education

Table 1.2: Comparability of ANZSCO Skill Levels and years of occupational experience to AQF Qualification Levels.

Indicative AQF Qualification LevelMinimum experience - ANZSCO Skill level 1Minimum experience - ANZSCO Skill level 2Minimum experience - ANZSCO Skill level 3Minimum experience - ANZSCO Skill level 4
Graduate Diploma (AQF level 8)9 years
Bachelor Honours Degree/Graduate Certificate (AQF level 8)7 years
Bachelor Degree (AQF level 7)5 years
Associate Degree (AQF level 6)3 years4 years
Advanced Diploma (AQF level 6)2 years3 years
Diploma (AQF level 5)1 year2 years
Certificate IV (AQF level 4)1 year2 years
Certificate III (AQF level 3)1.5 year1.5 years
Certificate II (AQF level 2)1 year

The minimum criterion for recognising cognate informal prior learning for credit into SCU courses is:

Undergraduate CoursesPostgraduate Courses
Two (2) years full-time equivalent occupational experience at ANZSCO Skill Level 3, being comparable to an AQF level 4, Certificate IV qualification; orFive (5) years full-time equivalent occupational experience at ANZSCO Skill Level 1, being comparable to an AQF level 7, Bachelor Degree qualification.
One (1) year full-time equivalent professional level experience at ANZSCO Skill Level 2, being comparable to an AQF level 4, Certificate IV qualification.

This may include paid or voluntary work, community activities and leisure based experience obtained within the last five (5) years.

For further assistance in evidencing informal learning view the:

  • PDF University-wide RPL Portfolio Evidence Guide

  • Still have questions, contact us