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Level of highest educational attainment (HEAP)

Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period
2021

Definition

This variable records a single measure of a person’s overall highest level of educational attainment, whether it be a school or non-school qualification. It helps to build a picture of education attainment and qualifications across Australia and can be used to:

  • compare with data collected in previous Censuses to help understand the changes of educational achievement in Australia over time
  • determine the general level of educational achievement of the Australian population and of specific groups in Australian society
  • investigate the relationship between levels of education and employment outcomes, income and other socioeconomic variables.

Scope

Persons aged 15 years and over

Categories

Categories for Level of highest educational attainment (HEAP)

1Postgraduate Degree Level
 10Postgraduate Degree Level, nfd
  100Postgraduate Degree Level, nfd
 11Doctoral Degree Level
  110Doctoral Degree Level, nfd
  111Higher Doctorate
  114Professional Specialist Qualification at Doctoral Degree Level
 12Master Degree Level
  120Master Degree Level, nfd
2Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate Level
 20Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate Level, nfd
  200Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate Level, nfd
 21Graduate Diploma Level
  211Graduate Diploma
 22Graduate Certificate Level
  221Graduate Certificate
3Bachelor Degree Level
 31Bachelor Degree Level
  310Bachelor Degree Level, nfd
4Advanced Diploma and Diploma Level
 40Advanced Diploma and Diploma Level, nfd
  400Advanced Diploma and Diploma Level, nfd
 41Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree Level
  411Advanced Diploma
  413Associate Degree
 42Diploma Level
  420Diploma Level, nfd
  421Diploma
5Certificate Level III & IV
 51Certificate III & IV Level
  510Certificate III & IV Level, nfd
  511Certificate IV
  514Certificate III
6Secondary Education - Years 10 and above
 61Secondary Education - Years 10 and above
  611Year 12
  613Year 11
  621Year 10
7Certificate Level I & II Level
 72Certificate I & II Level
  720Certificate I & II Level, nfd
  721Certificate II
  724Certificate I
8Secondary Education - Years 9 and below
 81Secondary Education - Years 9 and below
  811Year 9
  812Year 8 or below
Supplementary Codes 
9Supplementary Codes
 90Level of education inadequately described
  001Indadequately described
 91No educational attainment
  998No educational attainment
&Not stated 
 &&Not stated
  &&&Not stated
@Not applicable 
 @@Not applicable
  @@@Not applicable
VOverseas visitor 
 VVOverseas visitor
  VVVOverseas visitor

Not applicable (@@@) comprises:
• Persons aged under 15 years 

Number of categories:
• 1 digit - 12
• 2 digit - 20
• 3 digit - 31

Question(s) from the Census form

What is the highest year of primary or secondary school the person has completed?

    What is the highest year of primary or secondary school the person has completed?
    What is the highest year of primary or secondary school Person 1 has completed?

    For people currently at school, select the highest year of schooling they have completed, not the year they are currently undertaking.

    More information

    Person's highest year of school completed

    Year 12 or equivalent

    Year 11 or equivalent

    Year 10 or equivalent

    Year 9 or equivalent

    Year 8 or below

    Did not go to school

      More information

      Additional information relating to the question: What is the highest year of primary or secondary school the person has completed?

      More information

      What is the highest year of primary or secondary school Person 1 has completed?

      For people currently at school, select the highest year of schooling they have completed, not the year they are currently undertaking.

      More information

      Select 'Year 12 or equivalent' if the person has completed:
      • Year 13
      • 6th form
      • Matriculation
      • Highest year of school available.

      If the highest year of schooling the person has completed was in primary school, select 'Year 8 or below'.

      For persons who left school and then returned after a break, select the highest year of schooling they have completed irrespective of when it was completed.

      Include school level education undertaken at other institutions (e.g. at a TAFE).

      Has the person completed any educational qualification?

        Has the person completed any educational qualification?
        Has Person 1 completed any educational qualification?

        More information

        Person's completed qualification

        No

        No, still studying for first qualification

        Yes, trade certificate/apprenticeship

        Yes, other qualification (certificate, diploma or degree)

          More information

          Additional information relating to the question on: Has the person completed any educational qualification?

          More information

          Has Person 1 completed any educational qualification?

          More information

          If the person completed any vocational qualifications as part of their secondary schooling, select 'Yes, other qualification'.

          If the person has completed any other qualifications, select the appropriate 'Yes' response. Non-school or higher education qualifications include Certificates I-IV; Trade Certificates; Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas; Bachelor Degrees; Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas; and higher degrees such as a Masters or Doctorate.

          What is the level of the highest qualification the person has completed?

            What is the level of the highest qualification the person has completed?
            What is the level of the highest qualification Person 1 has completed?

            For example: Trade Certificate, Bachelor Degree, Associate Diploma, Certificate II, Advanced Diploma.

            More information

            Level of qualification

              More information

              Additional instructions relating to the question on: What is the level of the highest qualification the person has completed?

              More information

              What is the level of the highest qualification Person 1 has completed?

              For example: Trade Certificate, Bachelor Degree, Associate Diploma, Certificate II, Advanced Diploma.

              More information

              If the person has two or more qualifications, only state the highest qualification obtained. For example, if the person has a Graduate Diploma of Education and a Bachelor Degree in Economics, the Graduate Diploma should be reported as the higher qualification.

              Qualification levels listed from highest to lowest:
              • Doctorate
              • Master Degree
              • Graduate Diploma
              • Graduate Certificate
              • Bachelor Degree with Honours
              • Bachelor Degree
              • Associate Degree
              • Advanced Diploma
              • Diploma
              • Associate Diploma
              • Advanced Certificate
              • Certificate IV (or Post-trade)
              • Certificate III (or Trade)
              • Certificate II
              • Certificate I

              What is the main field of study for the person’s highest qualification completed?

                What is the main field of study for the person’s highest qualification completed?
                What is the main field of study for Person 1's highest qualification completed?

                For example: Plumbing, Primary school teaching, Accounting, Hairdressing, Psychology, Hospitality.

                More information

                Field of study

                  More information

                  Additional instructions relating to the question on: What is the main field of study for the person’s highest qualification completed?

                  More information

                  What is the main field of study for Person 1's highest qualification completed?

                  For example: Plumbing, Primary school teaching, Accounting, Hairdressing, Psychology, Hospitality.

                  More information

                  The main field of study is in relation to the highest qualification entered in the previous question.

                  If the person has two or more qualifications and they are at the same level, provide the field of the one obtained most recently.

                  If the person has two qualifications of the same level, completed at the same time (for example, double degrees), select the qualification considered the most important to them.

                  How this variable is created

                  Level of highest educational attainment (HEAP) is derived using a combination of two variables:

                  • Highest year of school completed (HSCP)
                  • Non-school qualification: level of education (QALLP)

                  These variables are sourced from the Census questions.

                  The derivation process determines which of the 'non-school' and 'school' attainments will be regarded as the highest. Usually the higher-ranking attainment is self-evident, but in some cases Secondary education is regarded as higher than some Certificate level attainments. The following decision table describes how Certificate levels and Highest year of school completed are coded.

                  Table 1. Derivation of level of Highest educational attainment decision table
                  Highest year of school completed (HSCP)Certificate nfd*
                  (500)
                  Certificate III & IV nfd
                  (510)
                  Certificate IV
                  (511)
                  Certificate III
                  (514)
                  Certificate I & II nfd
                  (520)
                  Certificate II
                  (521)
                  Certificate I (524)Level of education inadequately described
                  (011)
                  Level of education
                  not stated
                  (&&&)

                  Year 12 (1)

                  Inadequately described

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Year 12

                  Year 12

                  Year 12

                  Inadequately described

                  Not stated

                  Year 11 (2)

                  Inadequately described

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Year 11

                  Year 11

                  Year 11

                  Inadequately described

                  Not stated

                  Year 10 (3)

                  Inadequately described

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Year 10

                  Year 10

                  Year 10

                  Inadequately described

                  Not stated

                  Year 9 (4)

                  Inadequately described

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Certificate I & II nfd

                  Certificate II

                  Certificate I

                  Inadequately described

                  Not stated

                  Year 8 or below (5)

                  Inadequately described

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Certificate I & II nfd

                  Certificate II

                  Certificate I

                  Inadequately described

                  Not stated

                  Did not go to school (6)

                  Inadequately described

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Certificate I & II nfd

                  Certificate II

                  Certificate I

                  Inadequately described

                  Not stated

                  Not stated (&)

                  Not stated

                  Certificate III & IV, nfd

                  Certificate IV

                  Certificate III

                  Not stated

                  Not stated

                  Not stated

                  Not stated

                  Not stated

                  Note: the number in brackets refer to the classification code used for Highest year of school completed (HSCP) and Non-school qualification: level of education (QALLP).

                  *nfd: not further defined

                  History and changes

                  While questions regarding educational qualifications in general have been asked for every Census since 1911, Level of highest educational attainment, which combines measures of school and non-school education, was first reported in 2006.

                  In 2011, people in the following categories were assigned a Level of highest educational attainment the same as their highest year of school completed:

                  • Highest Year of School Completed of Year 8 or below to Year 12
                  • Certificate not further defined

                  In 2016, people with ‘Highest Year of School Completed of Year 8 or below to Year 12’ and a ‘Certificate not further defined’ were assigned a Level of highest educational attainment as 'Inadequately described'.

                  For 2021, Undergraduate certificates are a new qualification and will be coded to category '420 Diploma level, nfd'. In previous Censuses, nothing has been coded to this category. See also Non-school qualification: level of education (QALLP).

                  Data use considerations

                  This variable can be used to provide data on Target 6 for the National Agreement for Closing the Gap.

                  • By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-34 years who have completed a tertiary qualification (Certificate III and above) to 70 per cent.

                  Related variables and glossary terms

                  Other ABS sources