Women in STEM Cadetship and Advanced Apprenticeship Program Frequently Asked Questions

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How were the  program places allocated?

Places for the Women in STEM Cadetship and Advanced Apprenticeship Program (the Program) were allocated through a competitive bid process. Higher education providers (providers) interested in seeking a grant allocation for the Program had the opportunity to apply between 7 December 2020 and 31 January 2021, to ensure courses can commence in the 2021 academic year.

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The definition for STEM includes agriculture for the purposes of the Program.

Who is eligible to receive a grant?

Both providers and employers that meet the following requirements are eligible to receive a grant through the Program:

  • Providers: Any ‘higher education provider’ approved under the Higher Education Support Act 2003.
  • Employers: Any ‘body corporate’ established under either a Commonwealth, or state law.

What is a Cadetship or Advanced Apprenticeship?

Both Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeships are course models in higher education, designed to enable employees to continue working while they learn. 

Under an Advanced Apprenticeship model an employer actively contributes to course delivery, meaning an employee in an Advanced Apprenticeship style course gains course credit for parts of what they learn at work.  

While there is a relationship between an employer and education provider in a Cadetship style course, the employer is not involved in the delivery of the course, and an employee in a Cadetship style course will not receive course credit for learning in their usual workplace.

Where can I find the Program Guidelines?

On 26 November 2020 the Minister for Education amended the Other Grants Guidelines (Education) 2012 to establish the Women in STEM Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeships Program. 

When will courses commence?

Courses for the Program must commence in the 2021 academic year.

How long are courses expected to take?

The length of courses varies depending on the type of course an employee enrols in. For example, a Diploma course is expected to be completed in around two years part-time (0.5 equivalent full-time study load), whereas an Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree is expected to be completed in around four years part-time.

Courses offered through the Program must be delivered on a part-time basis and be completed no later than 31 December 2024.

For providers

How much will providers receive in grant funds?

Funding will be calculated based on the number of eligible employees of participating employers they enrol in the course. The amount provided per employee is equivalent to the amount a provider would receive if the employee were enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP).

Providers are able to charge tuition fees equivalent to the maximum student contribution amount for a CSP in that course.

Providers also receive additional amounts in their total grant amount where an employee defers their tuition fees through a FEE‑HELP loan and is liable to pay a FEE-HELP loan fee. This additional grant amount is to offset any FEE-HELP loan fee amounts so the amount a student pays in tuition fees is no more than what they would pay as a Commonwealth supported student enrolled in the same course.

What evidence of employer support is required?

Providers were required to demonstrate in their application to participate in the Program, that they will be able to obtain commitment from at least one employer to participate.  For example, in the form of a letter of commitment from an employer, emails of support or a plan for industry engagement. Demonstration of a plan for industry engagement was sufficient for the purposes of making an application.

What can providers use their grant money for?

Grant funds, including any amounts received to offset employee FEE-HELP loan fees, must be accepted by providers as upfront payments made on behalf of the employees they enrol in an eligible course.

While there are no specific requirements for what the grant funds received by a provider is to be used for, the amount a provider receives in grant funds and tuition fees will be equivalent to the total revenue the provider would receive to deliver the same course, were the employees enrolled in CSPs.

What courses can a provider offer?

Providers in receipt of a grant for the Program will be expected to deliver at least one course of study that:

  • is in a STEM field
  • leads to an Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) qualification at levels 5 to 6 (e.g. Diploma, Associate Degree etc.)
  • can articulate into a related course of study at the bachelor level or higher
  • can be undertaken part-time alongside employment.

Do providers need to design and accredit new courses?

No. A provider can use an existing course as long as that course meets the Program requirements.

If a provider does not have an existing course that meets the Program requirements, they needed to have developed and accredited one prior to applying for a grant.

Providers that are not self-accrediting authorities will need to seek TEQSA accreditation of any course it develops for the Program prior to applying for a grant.

For employers

How do employers apply?

Employers were not able to apply directly. Employers interested in participating in the Program are encouraged to get in contact with an eligible higher education provider.

Applications to receive a grant and participate in the Program must be made by an eligible provider. Providers were required to demonstrate in their application to participate in the Program that they will be able to obtain commitment from at least one employer to participate.  For example, in the form of a letter of commitment from an employer, emails of support or a plan for industry engagement.

Does an employer need to be in a STEM related industry?

No. An employer does not need to be in a STEM related industry to receive a grant for the Program.

Grants were allocated on a competitive basis, and the Department may have considered the relevance of the Program to an employer’s business and skills needs. In an application or industry engagement plan, applicants were advised to articulate how or why STEM-skills would benefit an employer’s business, particularly in cases where target employers are not in STEM fields.

How much will employers receive in grant amounts?

The maximum grant amount an employer can receive for the Program is $5000 per year for every employee enrolled in a course. This amount is contingent on the employer satisfying the Program requirements.

What can employers use their grant funds for?

There are no specific requirements for how the grant funds provided to an employer should be used. Its purpose is to recognise some of the costs associated with flexible working arrangements, such as releasing employees to study. 

How often does an employer need to release a student to study?

Employers and participating employees will be required to agree to working arrangements that support participation in the Program.

For employees

How do employees enrol?

Employees are given the opportunity to enrol through their employer’s participation in the Program.

Where an employee is selected to participate in the Program, the relevant higher education provider will provide instructions on how to enrol in the course.

Can anyone enrol?

No. To enrol in a course through the Program a person must be female and employed by a participating employer, be selected by that employer to enrol, and meet the requirements of the higher education provider. 

Do employees need to pay anything?

Yes. Employees are required to pay a tuition fee amount equivalent to what they would have paid in student contribution amounts, were they enrolled as a Commonwealth supported student. Employees may defer their tuition fee through a FEE-HELP loan, subject to meeting the FEE-HELP eligibility criteria.

Where an employee defers their tuition fees through a FEE-HELP loan and is liable to pay a FEE-HELP loan fee, their higher education provider will be given additional grant funding to cover their loan fee amount. This means employees will not need to pay more for a course in the Program than if they were enrolled as a Commonwealth supported student.

What happens if an employee stops working for their employer while enrolled in a course?

An employee who changes employers during their studies can continue participating in the Program if their new employer enters into an agreement with the Department to participate. 

Alternatively, an employee should contact the provider they are undertaking the course through to discuss options on how to transfer to a different course of study.

Courses delivered as part of the Program must articulate into other courses, meaning an employee will be able to gain credit for what they have already learned towards another course, even if that course is not undertaken as part of the Program.