Women in STEM Cadetship and Advanced Apprenticeship Program Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

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, and involving collaboration between higher education providers and employers.

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 generally involved in the delivery of the course, and an employee in a Cadetship style course will not necessarily receive course credit for learning in their usual workplace.

How were the program places allocated?

Places for the Women in STEM Cadetship and Advanced Apprenticeship Program (the Program) are allocated through a competitive bid process. A first round was undertaken in December 2020 to January 2021.

Applications for Round 2 of the Women in STEM Program are now open for eligible higher education and NUHEP providers to apply for employer-reserved places under the Program. Applications open on 4 April 2022 and close 5pm AEST 9 May 2022. To apply, please email the Program team at DESE-TertiaryProjects@dese.gov.au.

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. With the program due to finish on 30 June 2025, it is anticipated that most, if not all, courses will need to be delivered at the Diploma level. However, consideration will be given to supporting longer course offerings such as Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees where there are strategies to deliver the course in time, for example through accelerated work-based learning or recognition of prior learning.


How much will providers receive in grant funds?

Participating providers receive funding comparable to Commonwealth Grant Scheme Government and student contribution amounts to cover course delivery costs, plus an additional loan fee offset amount. The loan fee offset will be an additional payment made to the provider, if the student defers their tuition fees through the FEE-HELP system, as the loan fee reduces the amount the provider receives from this student.

What can providers use their grant money for?

Grant funds must be accepted by providers as upfront payments towards the course costs made on behalf of the employees they enrol in an eligible course.

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 Commonwealth Supported Places.

Are the courses under the program permitted to have exit points?

There is no barrier to providing exit points if a student does not complete the entire course and issuing the relevant qualification or credit recognition based on the amount of study completed, such as an Undergraduate Certificate. However, funding for this student would only be provided for the half year period/s the student is enrolled in the course on the relevant Census date/s

What happens if a student fails a unit?

If a student fails a unit due to extenuating circumstances and they wish to continue in the course, there may be scope for this student to re-enrol in this unit under the Program. This would be considered on a case-by-case basis, require approval by the Department of Education Skills and Employment (the department), and is dependent on the available funding for the Program. If there are no extenuating circumstances and a student fails, generally they would not be supported under the Program to continue their study within the next half year period.  

Can dual-sector providers deliver VET courses under the Program?

No, only accredited higher education courses are in scope for this Program.

For a course to be approved under the Program, the course must be either accredited by the university or by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). If a provider is unsure of their course status, all higher education courses can be searched through the TEQSA National Register. The National Register is the authoritative source of information on the status of registered higher education providers in Australia. For more information, please visit the National Register on the TEQSA website.


What are the Program requirements for employers?

Employers must agree to release employees for study purposes and enter into a restricted access arrangement with an approved provider under the program. In order to receive the employer grant, the employer needs to also have body corporate status, enter into a Deed of Agreement with the Commonwealth and fulfill biannual reporting requirements.

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.

How do I participate in the Program?

If you are interested or have employees interested in participating in the Program, undertaking study in one of the approved courses, please contact the relevant higher education provider. Please be aware that the last available intake for courses under the Program is Semester 2, 2023 and there are a limited number of places available under each course offering.

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 participate in the program, noting that employers must also be a body corporate in order to receive a grant under the program. However, the program intent is that the STEM skills gained from the study should benefit the participating employer.


Do I need to be employed in a STEM-related industry in order to participate?

No, a student can be employed with an organisation not related to their field of study, noting that the employer must also be a body corporate to receive a grant under the program. However, the program intent is that the STEM skills gained from the study should benefit the participating employer.

How do I participate in the Program?

If you are interested in participating in the Program and undertaking study in one of the approved courses listed above, please speak to your employer and ask them to contact the relevant higher education provider. The last possible intake for Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree courses is Semester 1, 2022 and for Diploma courses Semester 2, 2023. There are a limited number of places available under each course offering.

Can international students participate in this program?

Employees who would be classified as international students may be eligible to participate, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria for the Program. Under the Program participating employees who are not eligible for a FEE-HELP loan would be required to pay their tuition fees up front.

Information regarding the FEE-HELP eligibility criteria is available on Part 31 of the Administrative Information for Providers.

What happens if an employee changes employer or wants to change course while part of the Program?

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. 

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.