2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All

Non-School Qualification: Field of Study (QALFP)

This variable describes the field of study of a person's highest completed non-school qualification (i.e. educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education). This variable is applicable to all persons aged 15 years or over who stated a completed qualification.

How this variable is created

Non-School Qualification: Field of Study is mainly coded based on written responses for qualification level and qualification field questions. Highest year of primary or secondary school completed, qualification indicator (question asking whether person has completed any educational qualification) and whether the qualification was completed before 1998 may also be used. Images of these questions are provided below.

The Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) (cat. no. 1272.0), released in 2001, was used to code data for Non-School Qualification: Field of Study. The standard replaced the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ). For the 2001 Census, question wording, instructions and examples were modified to assist in coding using the ASCED, and to accommodate the Australian Qualifications Framework, which was introduced in 1998. The ASCED classifications have not been reviewed since their introduction.

Qualification coding is reliant on a variety of processes. All text response fields that contribute to qualification coding are first auto-repaired before being sent through an auto-coding process. The remaining records that did not successfully achieve a code in auto-coding were examined by clerical staff and independently assessed for an ASCED code. When completing their Census Form, some people provide responses which cannot be coded. In these instances, an 'Inadequately described' code is allocated during processing. For 2016 these responses comprised 1.5% of the data (compared to from 1.0% in 2011).

In the 2006 Census, the year completed question was reworded to ask if the qualification was obtained before 1998 or from 1998 onward, with 1998 being the year the AQF was introduced. The distinction between certificates awarded pre-1998 and from 1998 onward is also used to assist in coding some certificates to finer levels of the ASCED classification.

Variable history

This question was first asked in the 1971 Census, and has been asked in every census since then. No changes were made for 2016.

Non-response rate

The majority of item non-response is attributable to the people who did not respond to the Census at all. Refer to item non-response rates for more information. The second and smaller contributor to item non-response is when people return a Census form but may not answer a particular question(s). For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

Item non-response rates are a measure of how many people did not respond to a particular question as a proportion of the total number of people the question was applicable to. In this instance the response is left as not stated.

The non-response rate (records coded to the supplementary class 'not stated') for this variable was 15.1% in 2016 (16.7% in 2011). A large component of non-response for Non-School Qualification: Field of Study is due to people answering neither the Qualification Indicator question (question 28 on the Census Household Form) nor the Non-School Qualification: Field of Study questions. This includes people who may not have seen the qualifications questions as relevant to themselves, and thus chose not to respond, and those people who were imputed into occupied dwellings from which no form had been returned. As such, it may not be appropriate to consider these groups of non-respondents when calculating non-response for the directly applicable population.

When Non-School Qualification: Field of Study is analysed in conjunction with a 'Yes' response to the Qualifications Indicator question, the non-response rate for this variable for 2016 is 2.0% (see table below). Using this same method, the non-response rate for 2011 was 2.2%.

Table 1 Non response derivation for Non-School Qualification: Field of Study for persons who indicated that they had completed a qualificationa

Qualification field (QALFP)
Number of people

Not stated


a Includes only people who had stated 'Yes' responses to Qualifications Indicator question (Question 28 on the Census paper form), indicating that they had completed an education qualification.

Data usage notes

When using this variable, the directly applicable population (i.e. those who answered 'Yes' to the Qualifications Indicator question) is not identifiable in the output data set. Therefore this variable cannot be used as a count of people who hold a qualification.

Further information

A definition Non-School Qualification: Field of Study is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).
For more information related to Non-School Qualification: Field of Study, see data quality statement for Non-School Qualification: Level of Education (QALLP).

Household form question image

Data for this variable is mainly derived from questions 29 and 30 on the Census Household Paper Form.

Questions 28, 29 and 30 as they appeared on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 28. Has the person completed any educational qualifications (including a trade certificate)?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 29. What is the level of the highest qualification the person has completed?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 30. What is the main field of study for the person's highest qualification completed?
A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab