Comprehensive standards for design education in Australia

Published:  June 11, 2014
Lucy Waddington

With news that the body representing professional Australian designers, the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), are to launch a recognition program for Australian design courses we await a new system of validations and regulations across the board of education. Each year, the amount of design centred courses offered by tertiary institutions and private providers continues to grow, making selection down-right daunting.


Deemed the DIA Design Course Recognition Program – officially announced at designEX in Sydney this year – formal recognition of select design courses and assistance for those looking to identify appropriate paths of education will now be provided. Changes in tertiary design course structure, qualification levels and current skills surplus, will also be taken into account by the new policy.

Occurring in conjunction with the federal government’s Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), design study will now adhere to a code of regulations and standards across the Australian education and training system. James Harper, National President of the DIA, states he is “very pleased that this important new DIA policy has now come to fruition —

Programs such as this are widespread among professional institutes and education internationally. The new DIA Design Course Recognition program will officially recognise courses at AQF level 6 (Advanced Diploma / Associate Degree) and above for most disciplines and AQF level 5 (Diploma), for disciplines where this is the highest qualification available.”

The Design Course Recognition Program will aim to identify courses that meet devised criteria as well as evolving standards of the industry. Specifications will outline a minimum standard of education, based on the AQF and direct engagement with the design industry through membership of the DIA. The comprehensive educational structure also identifies how the DIA will support design course delivery, new and proposed courses, research and further study, and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Of course the installation of change is always an interpretive process and it will take time for this program to develop such an expansive branch of systems nationally. Harper continues, “some are relatively complex and expensive to administer, requiring accreditation panels and annual reviews to be carried out.

Others leverage existing government accreditation schemes (where they exist) and focus more on providing a direct conduit between education and the profession. The DIA program is very much focused on the latter.”

Should we start looking at the significance of course duration, opting for short courses to avoid HECS debts or criticising the relevance of proposed content? Study has moved beyond the point of simply acquiring skills, box-ticking and attendance, it should be an immersive experience that engages students cognitively, professionally and artistically. Education is the foundation of any and all careers in the creative industry, it’s important to make an informed decision about how guidance can meet individual needs and benefit a future career.




For a full outline of the program, please click here.


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