AUSTRALIA: Graduates to get qualifications statement

Students graduating from Australian universities are to receive a statement explaining the qualification they receive in simple terms that describe the system in which it was obtained in a consistent way for potential employers and other higher education institutions.

The statement will be in addition to degree certificates and academic transcripts, and will be based on nationally agreed specifications. It represents Australia's response to the Bologna process and the European Diploma supplement.

In an announcement last Thursday, federal Minister for Education Julia Gillard said the move would "make Australian qualifications recognised and renowned throughout the world". Gillard said graduation statements had the potential to make Australian awards better understood internationally, enhancing the international mobility of Australian graduates and Australia's competitiveness in the international higher education market.

She said the government had committed $3.7 million to assist publicly-funded universities implement the statement over the next three years. Universities were being invited to apply for grants of $100,000 to help introduce the scheme.

Early last year, a consortium of 14 universities was commissioned to develop a single, agreed template for such a statement. A final report by the consortium said extended consultations had taken place with key Australian stakeholders while international developments, including the European supplement developed by the European Commission, the Council for Europe and Unesco, had also been considered.

The report recommended that graduation statements be provided without cost to all higher education graduates and that implementation by universities should be voluntary. To ensure national consistency, the statements "should be presented in a uniform sequence by all higher education institutions", it said.

Gillard said Australians needed high-level knowledge and skills to make Australia a more productive and prosperous nation in an increasingly competitive and complex international environment.

* The consortium's final report, Proposal for an Australian higher education graduation statement, is available online at: