QUALIFICATIONS: ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ)
The ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) is a statistical classification used in the production and analysis of data on recognised post-school qualifications obtained from tertiary institutions. The classification was developed in order to classify data on qualifications collected in the 1991 Census of Population and Housing. The ABSCQ is based on qualifications currently awarded in Australia and allows previously awarded and overseas qualifications to be classified to the nearest equivalent contemporary Australian qualification. In the ABSCQ, a post-school qualification is classified according to level of attainment and field of study.
Since the release of the ABSCQ, a new national qualifications framework has been developed and released. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) was developed to support recent reforms in the vocational education and training sector and was released by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) in January 1995.
To incorporate the changes resulting from the introduction of the AQF, the ABSCQ is currently being reviewed. The ABS has had discussions with other national agencies to canvass views on the scope of the ABSCQ review. The ABS has decided that a detailed review of the ABSCQ is required and that an Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) should be developed and implemented in all relevant ABS collections from late 1999.
Purpose of the classification
ABSCQ was designed for use in the collection and presentation of data on qualifications currently awarded in Australia. Although designed primarily as a classification of qualifications already completed, the ABSCQ may also be used in the production of statistics on educational courses which lead to these qualifications. The classification was designed to classify an educational qualification according to two main dimensions: level of attainment and field of study. Statistics on qualifications can be provided by Level of Attainment alone, by Field of Study alone (in varying degrees of detail), or by Level of Attainment and Field of Study together.
Developed specifically for the 1991 Census of Population and Housing, the ABSCQ was also used in the 1996 Census of Population and Housing and has been incorporated into all ABS surveys where qualifications or level of attainment are collected, for example, the annual survey of Transition from Education to Work (TEW) and the 1997 Survey of Education and Training (SET).
Units of the classification
A Post-School Educational Qualification is defined as an award for attainment as a result of formal learning from an accredited post-school institution. This measure consists of two elements: Level of Attainment and Field of Study.
Level of Attainment is a function of the quality and quantity of learning involved in the course of study leading to the award of a particular qualification. Level of Attainment, measured by:
- the minimum entry requirements for the course;
- the duration of the course; and
Field of Study is a function of the main subjects studied in the course of study leading to the award of the qualification. Fields of Study are classified into groups according to the following criteria:
- the theoretical orientation of the course where necessary.
- the theoretical content of the course;
- the methods and techniques; and
Structure of the classification
- the tools and equipment of a course of study.
To classify a qualification according to the ABSCQ, two separate attributes of a qualification are considered: Level of Attainment and Field of Study.
The Level of Attainment Classification has a flat structure with seven categories:
The Field of Study Classification has a hierarchy consisting of three levels:
|6||Skilled Vocational Qualifications|
|7||Basic Vocational Qualifications|
- the first and most general level contains 9 Broad Fields of Study;
- the second level contains 46 Narrow Fields of Study; and
The nine Broad Fields of the Field of Study Classification are:
- the third and most detailed level contains 187 Detailed Fields of Study.
Each educational qualification can be assigned a four digit code which incorporates both the Level of Attainment and Field of Study.
For example, the code for a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and Anthropology is 3412 :
Business and Administration
|4||Society and Culture|
|5||Natural and Physical Sciences|
|7||Architecture and Building|
|8||Agriculture and Related Fields|
Level of Attainment
|Broad Field of Study||4||Society and Culture|
|Narrow Field of Study||41||Behavioural Studies|
|Detailed Field of Study||412||Sociology and Anthropology|
Further information may be obtained through the following products:
- ABSCQ: ABS Classification of Qualifications (Cat. no. 1262.0)
- ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) Manual Coding System (Cat. no. 1265.0)
Classifications and Data Standards
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Fax: (02) 6252 5281
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