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Straddling the Divide: Towards an Associate Degree in Information Technology

Journal of Information Technology Education Volume 9, ISSN 1547-9714


Governments recognize that workers in the twenty-first century need to keep pace with increasingly technical employment environments in order to remain competitive in the global market. The Australian government has developed a set of policies to address impending shortfalls in high-level technicians and paraprofessionals across many professions. As a result, a new fledgling qualification, the associate degree, has been established within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) to facilitate qualification upgrading for the existing workforce. This paper describes Australian associate degrees and highlights their similarities and differences to foundation degrees in the United Kingdom and associate degrees in the United States. In Australia, universities and higher education (HE) institutes have limited experiences catering to vocational training, since vocational education (VE) has been reserved for specialist technical and further education (TAFE) colleges. Interestingly, the AQF intends that associate degree qualifications can cut across sectors. This discussion paper details the development of an associate degree in information technology (IT) at Victoria University, where two education sectors, one vocationally-focused and one academically-focused, are collaborating to effect the degree. Eight areas of competency are identified as needed by graduates of the proposed IT program. Two models for the cooperation in curriculum development are proposed. Regardless of the model chosen, the collaboration provides the opportunity for the achievement of a program that would dovetail vocational skills with supporting academic competencies to meet the needs of information technology workers wishing to up-skill. Under discussion are issues such as staffing and administration, program sustainability and context of delivery, industry partnerships, and their impact upon differing cohorts of students with variability in experience. (Contains 4 tables and 1 figure.)


Tan, G. (2010). Straddling the Divide: Towards an Associate Degree in Information Technology. Journal of Information Technology Education, 9,. Retrieved January 19, 2020 from .

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