Free university degrees for aged care workers

The University of Tasmania is offering 120 Associate Degrees in Dementia Care – with no fees – to aged care workers in Tasmania, NSW or the ACT, whose employers belong to an ACSA-affiliated peak body. First come, first served.

Above: Diane Carter, Executive Officer, the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre.

By Stephen Easton

Aged care workers from Tasmania, NSW and the ACT can now study dementia care at university free of charge, thanks to the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, which is based at the University of Tasmania (UTAS).

There will be no course fees for the first intake of 120 students into the Associate Degree in Dementia Care, which was designed for students to complete over two-and-a-half years while maintaining employment in community or residential aged care.

There will be no final exams for any of the units that make up the associate degree, either, and there is no previous education required.

Instead of exams, students will be assessed continuously throughout the course in many different ways, which could make the idea of tertiary study less intimidating, according to the Wicking Centre’s executive officer, Diana Carter.

“Because the UTAS Wicking Centre is doing ground-breaking research on dementia – both on what’s causing it and on improving service delivery – that evidence can be taken straight to the students to be put into practice,” Ms Carter said.

“So it’s really cutting-edge, forward-thinking stuff, not just what already happens around the world. It is really at the forefront of developing dementia services in Australia.”

The associate degree – a qualification which sits between a diploma and a bachelor’s degree – is limited to employees of aged care providers that belong to the Aged and Community Services Association of NSW & ACT, or Aged and Community Services Tasmania.

Ms Carter encouraged industry representatives to apply for the course at last Thursday night’s ACS NSW & ACT State Awards dinner, which was held during the association’s state conference, and many showed keen interest straight away, she said.

“The feedback from the conference was very positive,” she said. “I had at least 20 people unofficially sign up already… so I don’t think it’s going be a major task to enrol 120 students. 

“It really is ‘first come, first served’, because we really do only have a maximum of 120 places to offer at this point.”

While the university’s senate was “fully backing” the course, she said, there was no guarantee that the funding to cover the fees would continue in the long term.

Students must have access to a computer with an internet connection, be able to commit 12 hours every week to studying during each 13-week semester, and they must be a native English speaker, or have an International English Language Testing Score (IELTS) of 6.0 or above (UTAS can provide some English language support).

They must also live ‘within commuting distance’ of a UTAS campus – which are located in Sydney, Hobart, Launceston or Burnie – although ‘commuting distance’ is open to interpretation, according to Ms Carter.

“Somebody at the dinner said he’s 600 kilometres away but he still really wants to do it, and he will make sure he comes to Sydney,” she said.

While the face-to-face sessions are important, the students will do nearly all of the course online, with support over the phone and via email. Initial ‘support units’ teach general skills in communication and using online tools, as well as an overview of dementia and a basic biological understanding of the nervous system. 

“The earlier units will include three to five face-to-face days [in total], and it’s all about learning how to become a student in those first support units. It’s not going to be regular, weekly, on-campus teaching; there’s going to be lots of online learning. The more the students progress through the course, the less face-to-face and the more online learning there will be.”

Students can come from any level – from personal care workers to CEOs – and it is suggested that at least two staff members enrol from the same workplace, to make it easier for the new knowledge learnt by the students to be implemented.

Enrolments close in September and the course commences in November – but hurry, the 120 places could fill up very quickly.

Employees who wish to enrol in the associate degree should talk to their workplace manager first, then contact:

Send all general questions about the course to or call 1800 982 600.

Tags: dementia, education, staff, training, university, workforce,

30 thoughts on “Free university degrees for aged care workers

  1. I am very interested in commencing the associate degree in dementia.

    Currently I am working as the Service Manager at Uniting Care Unanderra which incorporates a 20 bed secure dementia unit. We have been working with Professor Fleming to revamp the dementia unit. The Care co-ordinator of the unit would also be very interested in the course.

    Please advise. Regards, Jill 0419280360 Or
    02 42237935

  2. I am interested in the Associate Degree. I am currently trainer for Cert.IV in Aged Care/Disability and Leisure & Health. I am very keen to update my knowledge about dementia care.

    Please let me know when this course will become available in Sydney.
    Thanking you,
    Helen Etheridge

  3. I was wondering how old are you aloud to be?? and if you are just a Eca in aged care

  4. I am currently working as a case manager in the community for aged care. I have the support from my manager to apply for this degree and would like to express my interest. Can the managers email the letter of support?

  5. “and they must be a native English speaker”, immediately puts me out of reach. Having an IELTS above 7 does not bring comfort eventhough I am well ahead of other native English speaker when it comes to communication with people with Dementia:-)

  6. About time. dementia care require a person centred approach. person centred approach requires time when communicating with a person with dementia to provide care and recognising any unmet needs. This course may provide some practical solutions to manage the relentless ethical dilemma encountered when trying to meet organisational timeline with providing quality dementia care.

  7. I have completed my Cert III in aged care and and am doing my Cert IV in Aged Care while am working at Warena Centre for Aged with Dementia patients I think they r cute and need a lot of attention and care and love at the same time I love my job and would be great to further in my career within aged care. I am in Sydney and this would be a great opportunity for me.

  8. I am the deputy manager of a 100 bed nursing home in Sydney. I want to see improvements in the way people with Dementia are managed and education is the best way forward.
    I live near the Tasmania university campus at Lilyfield so I’m very hopeful I can get access to this course.I work for Uniting Care Ageing.
    Please reply.

  9. I am the team leader of an aged and disability service in rural nsw. I am passionate about aged care and have a particular interest in dementia. We have 75 CACP’s including ATSI specific.

    I work for Glen Innes Severn Council and we are members of ACSA.

  10. I would like to enrol in the free associate degree in dementia care held by utas Iam currently employed in the role of team leader in a dementia specific age care unit and would like to further increase my knowledge in dementia and its developments hoping to hear from you soon.

    yours sincerely
    john reading

  11. I wish to enrol in the free associate degree in dementia care I am currently employed as a team leader in a dementia specific unit at an aged care facility south of sydney with good access to the utas in sydney. I wish to dothis course to further my knowledge and understanding of dementia as I have specialised in this fieldin the past eight years. Hoping to hear from you soon.

    yours sincerely
    john reading

  12. I am interested in doing my Cert III in aged care. I am from India.How do I go about it. Please advice Regards

  13. I am mature aged 52 years lady from Malaysia i would like to enroll on the aged care course i have experience on taking care of the older people bed ridden for 3 years i wish to learn further details from your experts to provide better skills to the elderly my IELTS test results Listening 4.5 Reading 4.5 Writing 5.5 Speaking 6.0 hope my mature age and relevant working experience will be considered flexible approach to your entry requirements thank you very much for yr help

  14. I amm currently working in an aged care hostel on the central coast NSW. I have my cert3 and 4 in aged care and have a diploma in community service work. I have the backing from CEO to be able to study this course.I am very interested in studying this course.

  15. I am currently a dementia trainer but would like to further my education. Is their a likelihood of a further delivery of this course?

  16. I am very interested in doing this course please let me know when you are taking enrolments again

  17. I am interested in the associated degree please. Can I know more about it as an international resident in Sydney?

  18. I’m interested in doing the A/degree in dementia, could you put my name on the list. Thanks

  19. Hi,

    I would like to join the Associate Degree Course. Could my name be added on!

  20. I am currently working in the Dementia ward of an aged care facility. I have completed the Mooc Understanding Dementia . Completed Cert iv Aged care and I am really keen to study this course. Please could I be considered.

  21. I am very interested in this course. And am currently working with people who have dementia. Please considered me.

  22. I am a lecturer in Aged Care at the Fiji National University in the Fiji Islands and would like to join this course. Kindly inform on how i can be included if it is provided online.
    Thank you.

  23. I am working in my local community with aged/dementia clients and would love to join this course, thanks

  24. Am very interested in doing this course because i would like to work with dementia clients in a facility.

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