University OHS Education
Professional education: Find a university level qualification
Before you look at individual universities there a few important things to think about including your special OHS interests and the learning mode that suits you best.
If you are considering a professional role then you should also consider the OHS ‘specialty’ areas as this may inform your choice of program and the university.
There are three main ‘specialty’ areas of OHS
Generalist OHS professional
For more information on the generalist OHS professional role go to www.sia.org.au. The OHS Professional Capability Framework at http://inshpo.org/work.php also gives a detailed description of the activities undertaken by a generalist OHS professional and the required knowledge and skills.
For more information on occupational hygiene as an area of practice go to www.aioh.org.au
For more information on occupational ergonomics as an area of practice go to www.ergonomics.org.au
A generalist OHS professional education is a good place to start whatever the nature of your preferred specialty. However as different programs have different emphases it is good to keep your preference in mind when selecting a program and university. You should review the unit titles and unit outlines to make sure you understand the scope and emphasis of the content on the program. Each university is different. While all accredited programs have to teach a core of OHS, the way they do this and the emphasis will vary depending on the expertise and professional areas of interest of the staff.
OHS professional education programs in Australia are presented in a range of modes including
- Face-to-face requiring regular attendance at lectures and other activities
- Block mode where compulsory intensive on-campus learning/teaching activities are combined with off-campus learning and assignment activity. There are variations in the sequencing, frequency and duration of the on-campus intensive sessions across the providers.
- Distance mode with optional on-campus workshops that may be of one or two days duration for all or some subjects
- Full distance mode Each provider has electronic on-line student support. The extent of the support, and the way the on-line facility is used as part of the teaching and learning, varies across the universities.
As part of selecting an OHS program of study you need to think about what mode suits you. Some questions to consider include
- What mode suits my style of learning?
- Do I need the discipline of attending regular lectures?
- How important is interaction with students or lecturers?
- How is interaction supported or facilitated in the various programs?
- What geographical limitations do I have?
- What time issues do I have?
- Is a block mode a realistic option?
- Will I make the time for independent study for full distance mode?
- How important is practical work?
- How is practical work and the development of practical skills supported in the various modes?
What level of qualification?
You were introduced to the AQF and the capability statements under the heading What level? The question here is whether you will study at the Bachelor, Graduate Diploma or Masters level. There will be a number of factors that may influence your decision here. A remuneration survey carried out by the recruitment company safesearch shows and increasing demand for masters level qualifications both over time and as for higher level positions in the organisation. While the financial impost of tertiary study may be significant, the 2015-16 qualification and remuneration data indicate that the investment may be worthwhile.
Selecting a program
The on-line register of accredited OHS professional education programs should be your first step in selecting an OHS program. You should also use the links to each university’s web site to find out details of the program. Any further queries should be followed up by a telephone call to the course administrator or coordinator.