UOW introduces accelerated ECT degree option to address staff shortages in ECE sector
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > UOW introduces accelerated ECT degree option to address staff shortages in ECE sector

UOW introduces accelerated ECT degree option to address staff shortages in ECE sector

by Freya Lucas

March 01, 2023

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has partnered with the Early Learning and Care Council Australia (ELACCA) and the New South Wales Department of Education to introduce an accelerated Bachelor of Education – The Early Years in response to ongoing staff shortages in the early childhood education sector. 


The Honorable Sarah Mitchell MP, the Minister for Education and Early Learning, announced the launch of the degree this morning. 


UOW was the only university to have been successful in the tender process which was initiated by the Department, with the University acknowledging that staff shortages have placed immense pressure on the national early childhood sector in recent years, with the problem forecast to grow more acute in the years to come. 


The accelerated degree aims to boost the numbers of early childhood teachers by removing barriers to study for those who are already working in the sector, and will be delivered over two years and is designed to build upon the rich sector experience of applicants through integrated work-based placement and innovative course delivery. 


UOW and ELACCA co-designed the accelerated degree and will work together to deliver the pilot program to students. The first intake of students will be in July 2023, in the Spring Semester.


The degree will increase the supply of early childhood teachers and target educators who are interested in taking their careers to the next level but who have faced financial or logistical challenges in undertaking a four-year course.


To be eligible for the degree, students must have completed a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and have a minimum of two years’ work experience in an early childhood setting.


The Bachelor of Education – The Early Years (Accelerated) will be delivered online, ensuring that students are able to continue their work in the sector while undertaking their studies.


Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Academic Director of the Early Years at UOW, said the new intensive program is evidence-informed, contextually relevant, and sustainable, which strongly supports equity of access for participants.  


“Through the program design process, we collaborated with the sector and drew upon the important work we have been doing in Early Start – a UOW entity that was recently recognised as a national leader of research of Early Childhood,” said Associate Professor Neilsen-Hewett.   


“Our project partner ELACCA will play a crucial role in the co-design of the program ensuring the offering is tailored to sector and accreditation needs. This is seen as a strength and essential to ensuring strong uptake and organisational support,” she added.


“We know that a high-quality universal early childhood system is the foundation of any productive society, and ultimately, quality early childhood education hinges on the strength of its workforce.”


In addition to the accelerated course design and professional experience, students will be paired with a mentor from the early childhood sector, to provide them with guidance and support throughout their studies.


“This is a unique opportunity to connect government, universities, and providers,” said Elizabeth Death, CEO of ELACCA. 


“It is our intention to use this process as a broader commitment to building early childhood workforce capacity and ensuring quality in our sector. We see the opportunity to participate in this pilot program as the beginning of a longer and substantial partnership.”


ELACCA surveyed its members, finding a strong interest in intensive program delivery, something Ms Death said demonstrates “a strong appetite for engagement with this exciting new course”. 


“Importantly, we envisage the wrap-around support for educators will enhance completion of their degree and retention within their workplaces,” she added. 


Professor Penny Van Bergen, Head of the School of Education at UOW, said the University was excited to be at the forefront of educating the next generation of early childhood teachers and breaking down the barriers that prevent educators from accessing greater study opportunities.


“The accelerated degree has truly been developed in partnership with the sector, responding to the needs and concerns of early childhood educators who want to upskill and pursue further training, but have faced challenges in doing so.


“UOW is proud to be working with ELACCA to address the problems facing the early childhood sector and helping to train more teachers, which will have a positive impact on the lives and outcomes of children across the state.”


Learn more about the degree here

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