The NRL has launched a partnership with CQUniversity (CQUni) which is designed to improve pathways for match officials.
The partnership will see the launch of a new Vocational Education and Training (VET) program for the NRL's officiating group.
The program will allow current accredited referees who successfully complete the on-line Level One NRL Referee Update to receive three modules in the industry-recognised Certificate II in Sport and Recreation.
By way of the new National Rugby League Officiating Accreditation Scheme (NOAS), referees can attain an industry-recognised educational qualification in Certificate II in Sport and Recreation and Certificate III in Officiating, while also utilising completed modules to fast track their future studies and job opportunities.
"To have external industry recognition as part of our accreditation process for our match officials will be a wonderful great step forward. It formally demonstrates the high quality of our education delivery for all our referees," NRL General Manager - Officiating Tony Archer said.
"This creates a fantastic opportunity for our young match officials to gain vocational qualifications whilst still pursuing their passion of refereeing Rugby League.
"We believe this will have significant advantages from a recruitment and retention perspective going forward.
"Our match officials will now be industry-recognised for their skills as referees."
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the university was proud to expand on its continued relationship with the NRL.
"This partnership is an extension of the agreement that CQUni and the NRL's Officiating Unit entered into earlier this year that saw CQUniversity offering research opportunities as well as its facilities for the NRL to run referee coaching courses in Rockhampton, Emerald, Gladstone and Bundaberg.
"It's wonderful to be able to provide the referees with improved pathway opportunities."
CQUniversity Pro Vice-Chancellor Vocational Education and Training Mr Peter Heilbuth added: "Sport and Recreation is a growing educational area for CQUniversity's TAFE delivery. By working with the NRL we are doing what we do best, developing people's skills for real world application.
"Referees are an integral part of Rugby League. We are really excited to be working with the NRL to support referees at all levels of the game with the necessary skills, and also to expand their opportunities for their future career opportunities."