Non-School Qualification: Field of Study (QALFP)

This variable describes the field of study of a person's highest completed non-school qualification (i.e. educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education – see Glossary, Education and Work, Australia, May 2011 (cat. no. 6227.0)).

This question was first asked in the 1966 Census. Further information on Census Topics 1911–2011, can be found in How Australia Takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0).

QALFP is mainly coded based on written responses for qualification level and qualification field questions (questions 29 and 30 on the Household Form). Highest year of primary or secondary school completed (question 27), qualification indicator (question 28) and whether the qualification was completed before 1998 (question 31) may also be used.

The non-response rate (records coded to the supplementary class 'not stated') for this variable was 16.7% in 2011 (21.0% in 2006). A large component of non-response for QALFP is due to people answering neither the Qualification Indicator question (question 28 on the Census Household Form) nor the QALFP questions. This includes people who may not have seen the qualifications questions as relevant to themselves, and thus chose not to respond, and those people who were imputed into occupied dwellings from which no form had been returned. As such, it may not be appropriate to consider these groups of non-respondents when calculating non-response for the directly applicable population.

When QALFP is analysed in conjunction with a 'Yes' response to the Qualifications Indicator question, the non-response rate for this variable for 2011 is 2.2% (see table below). Using this same method, the non-response rate for 2006 was 2.7%.

Non response derivation for QALFP for those who indicated that they had completed a qualification (a), 2011 Census
Qualification field (QALFP) Number of people %
Stated 7,916,324 97.8
Not stated 181,672 2.2 (b)
Total 8,097,996 100
a. Includes only people who had stated 'Yes' responses to Question 28, indicating that they had completed an education qualification, see Question 28 below b. Non response rate


More information on non-response is available from the 2011 Census non-response quality statement.

The Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) (cat. no. 1272.0), released in 2001, was used to code data for QALFP. The standard replaced the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ). For the 2001 Census, question wording, instructions and examples were modified to assist in coding using the ASCED, and to accommodate the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which was introduced in 1998. The ASCED classifications have not been reviewed since their introduction.

Qualification coding is reliant on a variety of processes. All text response fields that contribute to qualification coding are first auto-repaired before being sent through an auto-coding process. This text repair and automatic coding process resulted in approximately 72.0% of all responses being coded. The remaining records that did not successfully achieve a code in auto-coding were examined by clerical staff and independently assessed for an ASCED code. When completing their Census Form, some people provide responses which cannot be coded. In these instances, an 'Inadequately Described' code is allocated during processing. There was little change in the overall proportion of these responses, which for 2011 comprised 0.55% of the data (increasing from 0.51% in 2006).

In the 2006 Census, the year completed question was reworded to ask if the qualification was obtained before 1998 or from 1998 onward, with 1998 being the year the AQF was introduced. The distinction between certificates awarded pre-1998 and from 1998 onward is also used to assist in coding some certificates to finer levels of the ASCED classification.

Care should be taken when using this variable as the directly applicable population is not identifiable in the output data set, and it should not be used as a count of persons who hold a qualification. When persons who have not stated a response to the three main qualifications questions (question 28, 29 and 30) are removed from the data, the inferred population with a qualification reduces by almost 15%. When this methodology is applied to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, this results in a reduction of almost 29.0%. Further information on using qualifications data will be provided in a Qualifications Data Quality Investigations paper.

More information on QALFP is available in the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).

Questions 28, 29 and 30 as they appeared on the 2011 Census Household Form

Data for this variable is mainly derived from questions 29 and 30 on the Census Household Form




Text only versions of these questions are also available


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