Swinburne puts micro-courses on the menu

The university is going to keep its own professional education lunch

Swinburne U continues to expand in the alternative-ed space announcing five new micro-courses, starting this month. The units focus on AI, data analytics and industry 4.0 opportunities, cost $1250 and take four-six hours a week for six weeks. The course includes a final project, allowing participants to, “apply the skills and knowledge acquired to your own professional context – ensuring that you translate your learning to clear value for your organisation.”  The university makes no mention of credit towards future study but there is a course-completion certificate for doing the project.

The suite is another addition to the corpus of courses teaching competencies and skills in business and IT. And the long (MOOCs) and short (micro-units like these) of it is that people can assemble their own informal programmes, designed to suite their individual career requirements.

But informality may not be indefinite. It isn’t just Swinburne U that is putting micro-courses on the menu, lest outsiders eat universities professional education lunch.  A paper for the Noonan Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework recognises the possibility of including courses now in regulatory limbo, “opening up the option for organisations to seek recognition of shorter form credentials through the AQF would make them part of the existing quality assurance mechanism. This could give providers more confidence and capacity to grant credit for those credentials towards full qualifications.”

Which alarms orthodox opinion. The National Tertiary Education Union warns the Noonan Review of its; “concerns regarding the quality assurance and risk of small, low skill, stand-alone micro-credentials (that do not build to a complete award or qualification) being recognised by the AQF. Not only do we have concerns about the pedagogy of such qualifications, but how the creation of a new sub-set of qualifications fits into and integrates with other formally recognised qualifications will need careful consideration by regulators.”

The union also worries about the impact on staff. “Micro-credentials will change the nature of work in a sector that already has high levels of casualisation and insecure employment. Stand-alone micro-credentials are highly likely to be more attractive if they have the lowest overheads, of which staffing is the highest cost.”


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education