Short online courses at higher education levels

To help Australians upskill or retrain, universities and non-university higher education providers are rolling out short online courses for new students in fields of national priority such as teaching, health, science, and information technology that can be offered for six months from May, until the end of 2020.

Course Seeker allows you to search, select and compare up to four higher education courses nationally across different institutions and/or study areas. This information can assist you in making your choice.

Things you should know:

  • The student fees for short courses in areas of national priority have been set at significantly discounted rates, see the table below for details.

  • Some higher education providers are also offering short courses in areas that are not listed as national priority. Fees for those non-priority courses are not discounted and will vary from provider to provider. Please check with your provider before enrolling. 

  • Providers have been offered a certain number of places for each of these courses and once these places have been filled the provider may still offer this course at a full fee paying rate. Please check with your provider before enrolling.

  • Eligible students can defer payment through HECS‑HELP. 

  • Providers may have additional eligibility requirements for their courses. In some cases, this may mean that eligibility for a course is limited to workers who have been affected by the downturn caused by COVID-19. Please check with your provider before enrolling.

Study can take place at Australian Qualification Level (AQF) level 5 (Diploma) to 9 (Masters Degree), and must be offered online to support students in isolation.

Students who complete an online short course will be awarded either an Undergraduate Certificate or a Graduate Certificate depending on the level of their studies. The Undergraduate Certificate is a new qualification that has been added to the AQF to ensure that people who complete short courses at undergraduate levels of study receive a formally recognised qualification.

Discounted student course fees for short course Undergraduate Certificates and Graduate Certificates in fields of national priority

Field of education Student Fee CGS subsidy for providers
Teaching $1,250 $5,630
Nursing $1,250 $7,429
Psychology $1,250 $6,654
English $1,250 $3,058
Mathematics $1,250 $5,411
Foreign Languages $1,250 $6,654
Agriculture $1,250 $12,007
Allied Health $2500 $6,654
Other Health $2,500 $5,411
Information Technology $2,500 $5,411
Architecture and Building $2,500 $5,411
Science $2,500 $9,460
Engineering $2,500 $9,460
Medical science $2,500 $12,007
Environmental studies $2,500 $12,007

Search short courses now!

As courses become available they are published here on Course Seeker. Go to the Course Search page and filter by Course Category to view all short courses.


What courses can I study?

Institutions have been working hard to develop and implement the short courses since May 2020. When these courses are open for enrolment they will be published on Course Seeker.

Are Undergraduate Certificates accredited qualifications?

Yes. The Undergraduate Certificate is a formal qualification recognised under the Australian Qualifications framework. Higher education providers, including universities, will be able to issue Undergraduate Certificates until at least December 2021. The COAG Education and Skills Councils will decide whether the qualification should continue to be made available after that date.

The Undergraduate Certificate certifies completion of six months’ full time study towards an existing AQF qualification from level 5 (higher education Diploma) to level 7 (Bachelor degree), meaning you are already part of the way through completing another higher education qualification when you complete your Undergraduate Certificate.

Will my Undergraduate Certificate be recognised after December 2021?

Yes. The COAG Education and Skills Councils will consider whether the Undergraduate Certificate should continue to be made available after December 2021. However, regardless of whether the Undergraduate Certificates becomes a permanent feature of the tertiary education system, Undergraduate Certificates that have been issued prior to this date will continue to be recognised as valid AQF qualifications.

I’m currently at university studying a teaching degree. Am I able to pay this discounted rate for my teaching units?

This policy was introduced to support workers affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 crisis, and who are looking to upskill or retrain.

Discounted student fees will only be available to students starting an Undergraduate Certificate or Graduate Certificate.

Only courses starting after 1 May 2020 will be eligible for Commonwealth supported places. Up to four units will be supported, provided the bulk of teaching and assessment is delivered before the end of December 2020.

What’s the difference between a higher education certificate and a Cert III from TAFE?

An Undergraduate Certificate is a higher education short course that represents six months full time equivalent study load toward a higher education award at the AQF 5-7 level. A certificate III from a TAFE is a vocational education and training (VET) qualification at the AQF 3 level. VET courses are accredited by one of the VET regulators and are subsidised based on state or territory policies.

If I complete a Undergraduate or Graduate Certificate that leads to a Masters Degree at my institution, will I be guaranteed a place to finish this Masters Degree?

On completion of the Undergraduate or Graduate certificate, if the short course articulates into a higher level course, the student would need to enrol in the higher level course separately in accordance with the provider's normal enrolment procedures and in accordance with the provider's normal fee structure.  

Why have the student contribution amounts been discounted?

Discounted student fees reflect the financial hardship faced by students who are affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 crisis, and who are looking to upskill or retrain.

Can the Government provide CGS subsidies for Undergraduate Certificates?

The Undergraduate Certificate is a recognised qualification on the AQF and a recognised course of study for the purposes of CGS. Providers are being asked to discount the amount they are charging for an Undergraduate Certificate or a Graduate Certificate where the bulk of teaching and assessment is delivered before the end of December 2020 and is in a field of national priority.

What will people who want to study have to do? Will the entire course be provided online?

People who want to study short online courses should contact their higher education provider for more information on course prerequisites. Courses must be delivered online to ensure social distancing rules are observed.

If a person’s study continues beyond 2020, their student contribution rate will revert to the standard rate.

Need more information?

This information is current as of 29 May 2020. More information will be posted on Course Seeker as it becomes available. Alternatively you can contact the Student Enquiry line on 1800 020 108.

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