Which universities will credit a Diploma of Paramedic Science?
When deciding to study to gain emergency health care qualifications, there are many things to consider. One of the main topics of conversation for new students is how they can become an Ambulance Paramedic/Officer using the HLT51015 – Diploma of Paramedical Science qualification as a stepping stone into university.
Other articles have been published on how to use the Diploma as a pathway into university to study the Bachelor of Paramedic Science, as well as a more detailed look at how many degree credits does a Diploma get you?.
This information has been helpful for so many students and graduates of the College. However, there are still some issues around the pathways into university – particularly when feedback from some of our graduates indicates, not all universities regognise the HLT51015 – Diploma of Paramedical Science.
We have heard that some universities use the rationale that the HLT51015 – Diploma of Paramedical Science is irrelevant to their degree because the subjects covered do not fit into their degree curriculum. This implies the subject matter from the Diploma is misaligned with the subject matter of the degree. This goes against the national policy on education pathways as laid down in the Australian Quality Framework (AQF).
Australian Quality Framework
Let’s review how in Australia, the education system has been designed to allow individuals to build on their qualifications from school to doctorate level, by way of a tiered ‘step ladder’ approach. This system is know as the Australian Quality Framework (AQF). The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. It incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.
This framework clearly defines the different levels of qualifications and how they provide a pathway for individuals to build on their existing qualifications to advance their knowledge.
The Diploma qualification is a Level 5 AQF qualification and a Degree is Level 7. Level 6 is an advanced Diploma which sadly no longer exists in pre-hospital emergency health care qualifications as it was removed from the training scope in 2017.
Objectives of the AQF
Noticeably, two of the objectives of the AQF are;
- To support the development and maintenance of pathways which provide access to qualifications and assist people to move easily and readily between different education and training sectors and between those sectors and the labour market.
- To support an individuals’ lifelong learning goals by providing the basis for individuals to progress through education and training and gain recognition for their prior learning and experiences.
In summary, the objective of the AQF is to allow individuals to move easily between different education and training sectors and gain recognition for their past and current learning and life experiences. An example of this would be progressing from a Diploma of Paramedical Science to a Bachelor of Paramedic Science.
This is also referred to as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and can also incorporate Credit Transfer of skills gained in having studies a similar/identical subject.
AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy
The AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy builds into the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) the capacity to genuinely support students’ lifelong learning.
The purpose of the AQF policy is to maximise the credit that students can expect for learning already undertaken.
It aims to:
- enhance student progression into and between AQF qualifications (Diploma to degree).
- recognise the multiple pathways that students take to gain AQF qualifications and that learning can be formal, non-formal or informal, and
- support the development of pathways in qualifications design. (allows a linear process of learning)
The AQF policy (extract below) is underpinned by the principles that educational pathways;
- enable flexible qualification pathways.
- can facilitate credit for entry into, as well as credit towards, AQF qualifications (Diploma to degree), and
- eliminate unfair or unnecessary barriers for student access to AQF qualifications. (universities who fail to recognise Diploma qualifications as a pathway into the degree)
The AQF recommends 33% credit for a Diploma linked to a 3 year Bachelor Degree.
The AQF recommends the issuing organisations’ decision to give credit into or towards further AQF qualifications will;
- Apply 33% credit for a Diploma linked to a 3 year Bachelor Degree.
- be evidence-based, equitable and transparent.
- recognise learning regardless of how, when and where it was acquired, provided that the learning is relevant and current and has a relationship to the learning outcomes of the qualification.
- be academically defensible and take into account the students’ ability to meet the of the qualification successful.
- allow for credit outcomes to be used to meet prerequisites or other specified requirements for entry into a program of study leading to a qualification or for the partial fulfillment of the requirements of a qualification, and
- be formally documented for the student including any reasons for not giving credit.
- credit will be given on the basis of formal individual negotiations between students and issuing organisations or formal negotiated agreements between issuing organisations.
- credit agreements negotiated between issuing organisations for credit for students towards higher level AQF qualifications in the same or a related discipline
Based on the recommendations of the AQF, let’s review which universities are following the recommendations.
These universities recognise the Diploma and offer credit towards the degree
- Central Queensland University (CQU) – Bachelor of Paramedic Science
- Edith Cowan University (ECU) – Bachelor of Science (Paramedical Science)
- Charles Sturt University (CSU) – Bachelor of Paramedicine
- University of Tasmania (UTAS) – Bachelor of Paramedic Practice 53A
- Victoria University (VU) – Bachelor of Paramedicine
As you can see, there are some credible universities in that list. These are forward-thinking universities who see great merit in APC graduates becoming part of the paramedicine student cohort. More of that in another article.
Shared subjects across the Diploma and Bachelor of Paramedicine
Data gathered from 11 universities offering the bachelor’s degree in paramedic science indicates some clear commonalities across the core subjects.
The following Bachelor of Paramedic Science credits have been awarded to APC graduates. (this is a mix of university subjects)
- Human Body Systems – Anatomy and Physiology 1
- Human Body Systems – Anatomy and Physiology 2
- Skills in Paramedical Practice 1
- Skills in Paramedical Practice 2
- Paramedic Clinical Practice 1
- Paramedic Clinical Practice 2
- Foundations and Principles of Paramedic Science
- Foundations of Professional Paramedic Practice
- Systems Physiology
- Australian Health and Social Care Systems and Policy
- Cultural Studies
- Pre-hospital Ethical and Legal Issues
- Principles of Drug Actions For Health Professionals
One Queensland university which we will not mention has the following subjects in their bachelor’s degree program, yet they insist the Diploma of Paramedical Science has no standing against their Bachelor of Paramedic Science degree program.
When comparing the credited subjects in the list above with similar core subjects offered by this Queensland university, there are clear similarities; namely, Foundations of Paramedic Practice, Foundations of Clinical Practice, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Paramedic Clinical Practice, Ethics and Culture.
- Foundations of Paramedic Practice 1
- Foundations of Paramedic Practice 2
- Foundations of Clinical Practice
- Paramedic Clinical Practice 1
- Paramedic Clinical Practice 2
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Health, Culture and Society
- Ethics and the Law in Health Service Delivery
Perhaps there are other things at play here, we cannot comment on certain universities who decide to ignore the Australian Quality Framework qualification pathways policy. However, it would be most welcomed for universities who do not recognise the Diploma, to follow the exemplary lead set by their peers.
The facts are;
- Some universities follow the AQF Policy and welcome those who possess a Diploma into their degree program.
- There are other universities who do not.
We suggest you contact one of the universities who recognise the significance and relevance of the HLT51015- Diploma of Paramedical Science and start a conversation with them. Should you make an application to a university and they refuse to allow credit towards the degree, then ask for a written confirmation for you future records.
Here’s some updated information on university pathways:
Not everyone who studies the Diploma of Paramedical Science wants to become an Ambulance Paramedic in Australia.
Some of our grads are now working in the UK as paramedics.
Read about that story here:
Are you ready to unlock your full potential?
If you’re just starting out and thinking about a career as a Medic or Paramedic.
Let us show you how to get started.