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9.8.1 Tertiary education

Last amended 
6 December 2019


The intent behind supporting tertiary education is that a client will be provided with appropriate assistance to help them to achieve suitable and sustainable employment within their local labour market. To achieve this, it may be appropriate and necessary for DVA to support a client to undertake tertiary education. DVA has a responsibility to consider the cost-effectiveness of the wide range of educational options that are available to individual clients.

  • Tertiary education within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) includes;
  • Certificate level courses (Certificate I-IV);
  • Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas/Associate Degrees;
  • Bachelor-level degrees, Graduate Certificates/ Diplomas, and other post graduate qualifications.

Institutions offering these courses include Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges, Universities, and accredited Registered Training Organisation’s (RTOs). My Skills is a government training directory that can assist you to identify accredited training providers.

Note: In the 2017-18 budget, the Australian Government announced a review of the AQF, which will ensure that the framework continues to meet the needs of students, employers, education providers and the wider community. For further information on the review, please visit the Department of Employment and Training website.

What is tertiary education?

Tertiary education includes the following qualifications from the Australian Quality Framework (AQF):

AQF Level and equivalent qualificationCategory of qualificationConsidered for funding by DVA?*
Level 1 – Certificate IRegistered Training OrganisationsYes
Level 2 – Certificate IIRegistered Training OrganisationsYes
Level 3 – Certificate IIIRegistered Training OrganisationsYes
Level 4 – Certificate IVRegistered Training OrganisationsYes
Level 5 – Diploma*Higher Education/ University QualificationYes
Level 6 – Advanced Diploma*, Associate DegreeHigher Education/ University QualificationYes
Level 7 – Bachelor DegreeHigher Education/ University QualificationYes
Level 8 – Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate*, Graduate Diploma*Higher Education/ University QualificationNot typically considered
Level 9 – Masters DegreeHigher Education/ University QualificationNot typically considered
Level 10 – Doctoral DegreeHigher Education/ University QualificationNot typically considered

*NOTE: These qualifications can also be obtained through Registered Training Organisations

As the AQF levels increase from 1-10, so does the complexity associated with the qualification.  There are distinct differences in the expected learning outcomes and requirements of subsequent levels.  Given the range of further education options at lower levels, higher level qualifications should attract a greater degree of scrutiny from Rehabilitation Coordinators.

Generally, DVA will only fund a university qualification up to the Bachelor Degree level. In this instance, funding would be considered where:

  • it is the first Bachelor degree a person has undertaken; and
  • it will be undertaken as a Commonwealth Supported place at an Australian University.

Qualifications listed in level 8 – 10 of the AQF are not typically in scope of what can funded by DVA, as a client with an existing education at Bachelor Degree level is considered to be competitive within the civilian employment sector. Refer to Section of this library for frequently asked questions about tertiary education.

All decisions about tertiary education must be based on, but not limited to, evidence from a comprehensive vocational assessment. Where a client is receiving incapacity payments from DVA and is fully participating in an education and/or training course approved under their rehabilitation program, then they will continue to receive these payments.  However, if a client fails to meet their rehabilitation obligations, then the usual processes for considering suspension of compensation payments must be used.


Can a client appeal study related decisions made by DVA?

Yes. If having considered all relevant evidence and having made a determination regarding the rehabilitation program that study is not an appropriate activity to fund, the client may seek this determination to be reviewed. 

Where a rehabilitation delegate requires advice about the appropriateness of a request, they should discuss this with their team leader, who can contact where further guidance is required.

Key Considerations for rehabilitation coordinators

  • Tertiary education funded under a rehabilitation program should be informed by a comprehensive vocational rehabilitation assessment, to ensure the course of study is appropriate for the client, and is likely to lead to a suitable and sustainable employment outcome. See section 9.5 of this library for further information on vocational assessments.
  • Funding for a university level qualification should only be considered where a person has already demonstrated an ability to successfully manage study. This can be demonstrated through successfully undertaking formal study at a lower level.
  • Generally, DVA will only fund a university qualification up to the Bachelor Degree level. In this instance consideration will be granted where it is the first Bachelor degree a person has undertaken and it will be undertaken as a Commonwealth Supported place at an Australian University. Where you have identified a case that sits outside of these criterion and warrants further consideration, please contact
  • DVA Rehabilitation Coordinators must also use the tertiary education policy guidelines to guide their decision making and approval process - See section 9.8.3 of this library for further information.