1246.0 - Education Variables, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2002   
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Contents >> Level of Highest Non-School Qualification >> Classification and Coding

13. Relevant categories from the Level of Education component of the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) are used when collecting, aggregating and disseminating data relating to the variable 'Level of highest non-school qualification'. This section provides an overview of classification and coding procedures for the variable. For further details of the classification, code structure and coding procedures, see the ASCED.


14. Three classification criteria are used to form the categories of the classification:

  • the theoretical and vocational orientation of the educational activity;
  • the minimum entry requirements for the educational activity (i.e. the minimum amount of prior education needed to undertake the educational activity at that level); and
  • the programme length (or notional duration of the educational activity).


15. The classification has a three-level hierarchical structure. The most detailed level of the classification consists of 64 base or third-level units which are Levels of Education (as defined above) called Detailed Levels. The detailed-level categories of the classification are aggregated to form the second-level categories of the classification which comprise 15 Narrow Levels of Education. These in turn are aggregated to the nine Broad Levels of Education.

16. The nine Broad Levels of Education in ASCED are:

1 Postgraduate Degree Level
2 Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate Level
3 Bachelor Degree Level
4 Advanced Diploma and Diploma Level
5 Certificate Level
6 Secondary Education
7 Primary Education
8 Pre-primary Education
9 Other Education

17. Broad levels 1-5 are relevant for 'Level of highest non-school qualification'. A complete list of valid codes for this variable is provided at Appendix B.

18. The relationship between the Level of Education categories should be essentially ordinal. However it is not possible to assert this in the case of the relationship between Broad Level 5 Certificate Level and Broad Level 6 Secondary Education, where secondary educational activities may be of an equal, higher or lower level than Certificates found in Broad Level 5.

19. One, two and three-digit codes are assigned to the first, second and third-level units of the classification respectively. The first digit identifies the Broad Level in which each Narrow and Detailed Level is contained. The first two digits taken together identify the Narrow Level in which each Detailed Level is contained. The three-digit codes represent the Detailed Levels.

20. The following examples illustrate the coding scheme:

Hierarchical LevelCodeLevel of Education
Broad Level5Certificate Level
Narrow Level51Certificate III & IV Level
Detailed Level511Certificate IV

21. For most statistical purposes it is unlikely that all categories in the classification will be used in any single statistical output. Recommended standard output groupings for 'Level of highest non-school qualification' are provided in the Output section below.

Residual categories and codes

22. In Broad Level 9, the Narrow Level 99 Miscellaneous Education is reserved as a residual category. It contains the Detailed Level 999 Education not elsewhere classified. All other Broad and Narrow Levels contain categories which are exhaustive and therefore do not require residual categories and codes.

Supplementary codes

23. The supplementary codes are used to process inadequately described responses in statistical collections. The codes are of two types:
  • three digit codes ending in one or two zeros; and
  • codes commencing with zeros.

24. Codes ending in zero are described as 'not further defined' (n.f.d.) codes and are used to code responses which cannot be coded to the Detailed Levels of the classification but can be coded to a higher level of the classification structure.

25. Codes commencing with zero are used to process responses which do not provide sufficient information to be coded to any level of the structure and when there is no level of education given. These are: 01 Inadequately described and 011 Inadequately described. The supplementary codes 02 and 002 are used where there is no non-school qualification. Other codes commencing with zero may be defined by users to facilitate the processing and storage of data, when data sets coded to ASCED contain records for entities outside the scope of ASCED.


26. The ASCED applies to all learning experiences which form part of a course leading to a qualification, or which include some form of assessment. It can also classify some courses, and components thereof, which do not lead to a qualification.


27. In addition to 'Level of highest non-school qualification', the ASCED Level of Education Classification can be used to classify a variety of variables such as 'Level of highest educational attainment' and 'Highest year of school completed'.


28. Each level of education response is matched with an entry in the ASCED Level of Education coding index to determine the correct code. The coding index contains a comprehensive list of the most probable responses to questions relating to level of education. The coding index is not contained in ASCED (cat no. 1272.0); the ASCED CD-ROM (cat. no. 1272.0.30.002) provides a windows-based coding facility which uses the coding index to assign ASCED Level of Education codes. For further information on coding procedures contact the Population Statistics Standards Section, Australian Bureau of Statistics on phone (02) 6252 5736, fax (02) 6252 5281, or e-mail labour.classifications@abs.gov.au.

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