Western maintains strong commitment to retraining displaced workers

Katherine McQueen
Katherine McQueen has enrolled in the Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Sustainability short course.

Western Sydney University is continuing to assist displaced workers in developing new skills or retraining for new careers, through its ongoing short course programs.

Western rapidly responded to the Australian Government’s Higher Education Relief Package, and was the first institution to commence delivery of its suite of 12 intensive short-courses.

The University is committed to continuing the initiative, taking applications for its short courses through August.

Dr Nicolene Murdoch, Chief Executive Officer of the University’s pathways provider The College, said maintaining access to the courses is important, given that COVID-19 continues to significantly impact people’s livelihood and careers.

“When the Australian Government first announced the Higher Education Relief Package, the highly discounted short courses were only envisaged as a short-term measure, and the Government gave a December deadline for all courses to be completed,” said Dr Murdoch.

“Since then, we have come to accept that the global pandemic is likely to continue to impact people’s jobs, income, and opportunities for future employment, for some time.

“The University is ensuring that people who may have had their employment impacted at a later stage of the pandemic can continue to take up the opportunity of a discounted short course, for as long as possible.”

Western Sydney University will accept applications to all 12 short courses up until August 21. The courses will be delivered in an accelerated mode, with added support from The College, to ensure that students still complete by December.

Dr Murdoch said the short course initiative highlighted that it is important to continue to open up access to higher education, and create diverse pathways for people from diverse educational backgrounds.

“Many of our new students have reported that the short courses provided access to higher education in a way that was not previously possible,” said Dr Murdoch.

“For many people, and for a range of reasons, it is just too difficult to commit to studying at a tertiary level for an extended period of time. The prospect of university study, alongside their other commitments in life, is a challenge that appears insurmountable.

“For these people, a short course can provide an important inroad – an opportunity to further their education, or progress their career, in a manageable way. It can even be an opportunity to venture into higher education, to see if it may be right for them in future."

Katherine McQueen – a 39-year-old mother of two from Voyager’s Point in western Sydney – used to work in the entertainment travel industry, booking travel and accommodation for bands and entertainers. When her second child was born in November, Katherine went on maternity leave – and then COVID-19 hit.

“My maternity leave payments lasted until May – but then there was no work to return to. I was placed on JobKeeper, and then I started looking for other options for my future and came across the short courses at Western,” said Katherine.

Katherine has enrolled in the Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Sustainability with The College. She said the short duration and online delivery of the course was appealing.

“I do most of my study at night, after the boys have gone to sleep. It’s definitely a juggle, but it’s manageable,” she said.

“I think the short duration of the course helped me to build the confidence to just go for it – as I just kept telling myself that it will only be for a short time. But now I’m really enjoying the course, and am considering what further study I could do in future.”

Katherine said she feels lucky that she came across the short courses when she did.

“I wasn’t ready to sign up when the short courses first came on offer – so I was so grateful when I found out that Western was still taking enrolments. The impact of the health crisis hasn’t stopped, and neither should these opportunities for people to find a path out of the crisis and better themselves.”

The University’s suite of short courses includes:

  • Undergraduate Certificate in Counselling and Mental Health
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health Support
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Health Services Management
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Aged Care Support
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Information and Communication Technology
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Sustainability
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Disability Care Support
  • Graduate Certificate in Aged Care Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Secondary STEM Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Primary Mathematics Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Primary Science Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Interpreting and Translation

Outside the scope of the Higher Education Relief Package, Dr Murdoch said the University is considering opportunities to continue offering a similar model of short courses in future – so that the University can continue to provide these important opportunities.


17 August 2020

Danielle Roddick, Senior Media Officer