Student load and employment outcomes attached to mid-level qualifications

By Gavin Moodie, Nick Fredman Technical paper 8 May 2013 ISBN 978 1 922056 48 1


This technical paper explores trends in mid-level qualifications (diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees) from 2002 to 2011. The authors analyse these trends using vocational education and training and higher education enrolment data, as well as student outcomes and destination surveys. Overall they find that changes in the share of student load in mid-level qualifications are related more to the particular field of education or industry area rather than the type of qualification. This paper is part of the three-year research program, Vocations: the link between post compulsory education and the labour market.


About the research

This technical paper is part of a wider three-year program of research, 'Vocations: the link between post-compulsory education and the labour market', which is investigating the educational and occupational paths that people take and how their study relates to their work. It is specifically interested in exploring trends in mid-level qualifications (diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees) over time.

The paper uses data on vocational education and training (VET) and higher education enrolments as well as student outcomes and destinations surveys to analyse these trends. It looks particularly at the share of student load of these qualifications by comparison with certificate IVs and bachelor degrees. The next part of the research will further investigate how mid-level qualifications are being used by different industry sectors in education and the workplace.

Key messages

  • Contrary to popular belief that diplomas are being displaced by bachelor degrees, from 2002 to 2011 diplomas in the VET sector maintained their share of student load, whereas bachelor degrees lost 4.5 percentage points of their load.
  • Student load for diplomas and advanced diplomas in the VET sector was relatively stable between 2002 and 2007. Diplomas in particular have grown strongly since 2007.
  • The share of student load attaching to diplomas and advanced diplomas varies remarkably for different fields of education. The four largest fields are: management and commerce; society and culture; health; and creative arts.

This suggests that changes are due to factors in the particular field of education and industry area, rather than the characteristics of the qualification type.

Tom Karmel
Managing Director, NCVER



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