Our guide to short courses: Your options for upskilling quickly in Australia

Here’s how short courses can help boost your knowledge in all the right places.


Fitting study into any adult life can be a tricky task. Many Australians wanting to change their careers or upgrade their professional skills are already working full time, have family commitments or are facing financial barriers that can get in the way of a further study. 

If you fall into any of these categories, studying a short course online can help you improve your employment prospects — no matter what industry you’re in. Here are the facts: 

What are micro-credentials? 

There isn’t a definitive name for this new approach to learning, as it’s still gaining momentum, but terms like ‘micro-credentials’ are proving popular. In general, this term describes short courses that are used to gain specific skills or achievements, so you can upgrade your knowledge without giving up your day job.

Some institutions offer curated, standalone courses that cover set topics, while other providers offer single subjects that can count as credit towards larger undergraduate or postgraduate degrees. These all count as micro-credentials. 

How long do short courses take? 

Short courses can take a matter of weeks to several months to acquire, depending on the breadth of the topic and accreditation level.

Through Open Universities Australia (OUA) for example, you can upskill with a single subject in as little as 13 weeks. These courses often require just 10 hours of online study per week, which can be tackled when and where it suits you. 

Many of these single subjects can also be credited towards a wide range of uni degrees, if you’d like to take your studies further.

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How much do short courses cost? 

Bite-sized learning comes with bite-sized costs compared to traditional study. But your fees will depend on the level of accreditation you want to achieve, along with the robustness of the course and how recognised the provider you’re studying with is.

There are short online seminars, for example, that you can access for free or at low cost, but you’re not likely to leave with an official certification. On the other end of the scale, a short course at post-graduate level can cost around $2000+ dollars.

But remember, through OUA you can access government funding one subject at a time. This means you’ll repay the course fees down the track if you’re eligible. 

There are also discounts available to support workers displaced by the current COVID-19 crisis. The government has introduced a Higher Education Relief Package that reduces the cost of select courses in Teaching, Nursing, Health, IT and the Sciences down to $1,200-$2,500. 

How short courses can help your career 

Many industries are demanding that employees keep up-to-date with this style of learning.

In OUA’s Voice of Industry report, businesses were calling for more bite-sized study options for their employees, which can be achieved in shorter time frames and focus purely on skill-specific outcomes.

Completing a short course not only proves your knowledge in a specific field to employers, but also demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning, your passion for the subject, and your multi-tasking abilities. 


To express your interest in any of the courses on offer through OUA, fill out the form on this page and a friendly student advisor will get in contact. Otherwise, start browsing thousands of courses from leading Australian universities right now.