Acquire in the dock

Fairfax Media   |   18 December 2015


Acquire Learning is the latest training company to land in the Federal Court accused of unconscionable conduct and false or misleading behaviour after it sold tens of thousands of government-funded courses to vulnerable job-seekers.  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has alleged before the Federal Court that the company bought the details of unsuccessful applicants on job websites, then cold-called them to sell expensive diploma courses.



Acquire Learning1

The courses, funded under the federal-government funded VET FEE-HELP loan scheme, cost between $19,000 and $52,000.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims says the Victoria-based company took advantage of vulnerable consumers and used “unfair tactics” and placed “undue pressure” to convince consumers to enrol.

A script for Acquire call centre operators shows that people looking for jobs online were told by telemarketers: “We are all about helping people land their dream job.”

The script also promises a free computer or iPad for signing up to a course, which has since been made illegal under federal legislation. Job seekers were also promised “the edge over other applicants”.

The ACCC says telemarketers signed up unsuitable people to courses, and misled them that the primary purpose was not selling an educational service, but getting the “client a job”.

In return, Acquire was paid large commissions by the training organisations they sold on behalf of, while students “did not receive the promised employment prospects and were left with a significant VET FEE-HELP debt,” according to the ACCC.

Fairfax Media has been told that 7%  or fewer of people signed to courses through Acquire actually completed the course.

One job seeker was told, falsely, “we actually put 4217 people … into jobs last month”.

Sims acknowledges that the behaviour, which took place between July 2014 and March 2015, was historical, and the company had made “large strides” towards improving it.

But he said while it was going on it was “so egregious that it can’t go unrecognised”.

Acquire has recently moved from being strictly a sales company, having bought a majority stake in jobs website CareerOne (where Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation remains a minority shareholder). It also bought its own training organisation, Franklyn Scholar.


ACCC targets training broker Acquire Learning & Careers

ACPET dismayed, as well

8 December 2015


ACPET’s Rod Camm expresses dismay over the raft of changes in relation to VET FEE-HELP legislated last week  -and fair enough, too, because the blameless will be collateral damage in cracking down on the utterly blameworthy rorters.  But Camm also poses the question that has occurred to most VET sector participants and observers: how could this have been allowed to happen?  He answers the question thus: 

Without….checks and balances this could only mean Government has been approving this phenomenal growth, in a relatively small number of public and private providers, blind.



Of course the last week was, and the week coming, will be dominated by discussion about the Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015.

As you would all be aware, the Government introduced the changes with no forewarning or consultation.

On hearing of the changes, I flew to Canberra to meet with Ministers, the Opposition and Senators in an attempt to rectify the problems, particularly the Freezing of VFH accounts at 2015 levels. Unfortunately, the Bill was passed that day, less than 24 hours after it was introduced.

Many members have expressed their concerns and it is important that you continue to do so. What disappointed me was that I, along with other representatives from the sector are appointed to a VFH Reform Working Group. To be on this group we were required to sign detailed confidentiality agreements. The Group only met a week ago where we discussed a range of reforms. Unfortunately there was not a word of the changes the government was about to introduce. Not sure I will attend this group again.

In terms of the future, I have been advised in no uncertain terms that neither the Minister nor Department have any discretion to vary VFH allocations for 2016 (based on the formula in the legislation), and that the Government had two choices, to close VFH down or to freeze the program at current levels. This means that the only way to fix this is for further legislative amendments, which can’t be until next year, assuming the Government agrees to do so.

ACPET will continue to address our concerns at all levels of the Government.

So, how did we actually get here?

There have been some strong voices this week apportioning blame for the VFH meltdown. However, if you are under any illusions the answers lie in the legislative amendments.

Let’s start by remembering what has been happening under this program:

  • Student loans have more than doubled to $1.74B in 2014
  • Since commencing in 2009, $3.1B has been funded
  • Student numbers increased by 103% from 2013 to 2014
  • Completion rates remain at about 10% below that of sector average
  • On-line VFH completion sits at 7% completion rate compared to 23% for students funded outside of the program.

In a +$3B program the Government only last week introduced changes to give it the power to:

  • Pay providers considered high risk in arrears to ensure student data is authentic
  • Suspending payments for new enrolments where there are concerns about a provider’s performance until agreed actions to lift performance are completed
  • Ensuring providers have appropriate tuition assurance for their number of students
  • Appointing investigators to better cope with expertise and resourcing requirements.


Surely we could not have a +$3B program where the Government could not investigate rorting, suspend payments and even monitor performance? Without these checks and balances this could only mean Government has been approving this phenomenal growth, in a relatively small number of public and private providers, blind.

The case of the prosecution rests.

While some argue ACPET should have done more, and this is perhaps the case, in the weight of the lack of program management, where even as the Tuition Assurance operators we did not know of the growth until after it happened (12 months later) we were swimming upstream, and that is putting it politely.

All of our Senate Inquiry submissions and public statements have pushed for changes. Yes some of them have now been introduced but the Freeze really was ill conceived. If they had consulted we could have had a bi partisan approach to real change, fully supported by the quality end of our proud industry.

And despite all of this, still no national Ombudsman.

While we have distributed what we know of the implications of the changes, if you have questions about how to calculate your notional allocations for next year, please contact your local executive officer.

Other news in the media of course relates to the closure of Vocation RTOs and the Phoenix Campus in Melbourne. Our only priority is to focus on the students and we are working with administrators and government and the management of Phoenix to ensure the students can continue their studies.

Vocation collapses entirely

Fairfax Media    |   1 December 2015


Less than a week after going into voluntary administration, ASX-listed education and training services company Vocation has been closed down, leaving 150 of its 180 employees without a job and more than 10,000 students in limbo.



In a statement released to the Australian Securities Exchange after 5pm on Monday 30 November administrator Peter Gothard of Ferrier Hodgson said the company’s operations had ceased immediately.

Please be advised that as a result of further customer contract terminations, the lack of available liquidity to fund operations and the lack of ongoing support from key stakeholders, the voluntary administrators of Vocation Ltd have had no alternative but to cease the majority of the company’s operations effective from 30 ,November 2015. As a consequence, the administrators have terminated approximately150 staff across the business.

The administrators will now attempt to sell what little is left to raise some money:

In addition to pursuing all available recoveries from the company’s assets and affairs, the voluntary administrators will be seeking expressions of interest for the group’s intellectual property and one of its operating businesses, Customer Service Institute of Australia.

Between 10,000 and 12,000 students in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia are affected by the collapse while there were 180 staff.

The Victorian government has previously indicated it will seek to place affected students in the Victorian TAFE system; under Tuition Assurance arrangements, presumably students can also be placed with private providers.

ACCC hits up Phoenix for $106 m

Fairfax Media    |     25 November 2015


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accused leading VET provider Phoenix Institute of false, misleading and unconscionable conduct and is seeking recovery of $106 million in Commonwealth funding through VET-FEE HELP.



The ACCC launched legal action in the Federal Court on 25 November 2015 alleging:

Phoenix represented to prospective students that they would receive a free laptop and that the course(s) were free or were free if the consumer did not earn approximately more than $50,000 per annum.  In fact, the laptop they received was on loan, and students enrolled in the courses incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt payable to the Commonwealth Government.  Repayment of this debt would commence if they earned more than a specified amount in a financial year ($54,126 in the 2014-2015 income year).

It is also alleged Phoenix’s conduct, including its marketing and enrolment system and its dealings with vulnerable consumers was, in all the circumstances, unconscionable.

The alleged victims included those with intellectual disabilities, and people on Aboriginal communities. Sales people authorised by Phoenix signed them up to multiple online diploma courses which cost $18,000 each, even though some did not have access to the internet.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)has also announced that it proposes cancelling Phoenix Institute’s registration as a training organisation, meaning it will then be ineligible for further government funding.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the Commonwealth “is paying for something they are simply not getting”:

Think about this: it’s a company that has got revenue from the Commonwealth of over $100 million between January and October this year; companies with that much revenue are sizeable companies and there are not many of them in Australia – think BHP, the banks and so on. It’s a lot of money.

Despite all the taxpayer funds, however, the rate of people actually starting the courses was “extremely low”, he said.

Phoenix College is owned by listed Australian company, Australian Careers Network (CAN), whose chairman is retired Sydney-based lawyer Steve Williams, who is also the chairman of Sydney Church of England Grammar (Shore).  Former Victorian Liberal higher education minister Peter Hall is on its “Quality Oversight Committee”, and sources say he has been active in lobbying the state government on the company’s behalf.

The company has been in trading halt since early October, which was recently extended to 15 December  as ACN insists it can clear its name.  It said it will vigorously defend the proceedings

A directions hearing is set for 15 December.

Venting about VET

Disheartened, disillusioned and downright angry



25 November 2015     |    An RTO operator, who wishes to remain anonymous (fair enough),  laments that the reputable “sprats”, such as herself, are being caught up in the net intended to catch the “sharks” in the VET ocean.



I’m writing this article because I need to vent.

The vocational education and training sector is so backwards sometimes and it just doesn’t need to be this way.

Everyone’s quite familiar now with the tales of rorting and depredation on the part of some providers but this is a multi-faceted story so let me put it from another side.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to pass the blame or excuse the rorters:  it’s exquisite karma and the rorters deserve everything that is seemingly coming their way.

I just want the way this sector operates to improve, across the board and not just in a piecemeal, reactive way.  And I want to start loving what I do again.  Because if we are not passionate, how are we ever going to make our students passionate?

My first experience of the reactive nature of the sector occurred relatively early on.  But I thought it might be a one off, I put my head down and bum up and worked extra jobs to gather the capital and expertise to strike out on my own as a training provider.

As part of my plan, I quit my job and went and did a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) to help me when I established my own Registered Training Organisation (RTO).   On completing my MBA, I knuckled down and spent a year setting up my RTO, doing everything myself from scratch.  Policies and procedures, materials, resources, everything.

I got approved as an RTO.  Then I spent the next 2 years doing small fee for service courses to survive.  This was not where I wanted to be. The courses I actually wanted to deliver, which I thought would make a positive difference and which I feel feel passionate about, are hard to sell fee for service.   It’s just the reality that employers and employees (and potential employees) need assistance to cover their costs.  It’s the underlying rationale of public funding of VET: a skilled and capable workforce is a public good.

After two years, the required waiting period, I successfully applied for a government funding contract. It was amazing and I thought “Now, I can finally do what I’m really good at and make that difference”.

But no: just a few weeks after receiving my contract, the government cut the funding to both the  courses on my RTO’s scope of registration and they were no longer feasible to run. And this with NO prior warning.

You might think that if students and employers really wanted these courses they would pay for them now and you wouldn’t need funding.

Here’s the reality check. Employers and students still really need the training, but now they go to a large provider which has numerous courses on scope which they can adapt to suit that market.  They game the system and overnight go from “specialising” in Widget Management training (which has been defunded) to Bodgie Communication which has been funded.

Bodgie Communication may not actually be a course that’s appropriate for the needs of most learners and may not add much value to the stock of skills in the economy.  But the way the system works now  makes gaming the only business option. That is, the reason some RTOs provide inappropriate courses is around funding:  because the government won’t fund or keep funding stable in many of the courses that really need – and merit – support.

Governments in Australia extol the virtues of small business – for their contributions to employment and innovation, for example – but in the training industry “small” is starting to be an impossible feat.  It’s getting to the point that an RTO can only survive if it has an extremely large scope and doesn’t specialise, as that gives it the flexibility to game the system to survive constant funding and regulatory changes.

Returning for a moment to rorting in the VET system (and I accept that gaming isn’t necessarily rorting but all rorting will involve gaming), what we have seen in recent times is the proliferation of “sharks” in the VET ocean – alpha predators, who are big mean and nasty.  Governments are casting a net – not before time, either – to at least rein them in.  But the VET “sprats” – smaller reputable providers – are emerging as “collateral damage”, caught in the net intended to capture the sharks and subject to an ever increasing burden of regulation which, in context, is unnecessary.  By and large, the sprats aren’t the problem authorities are trying to net.

Consider this: what other business operators are required by  regulatory authorities to have a 3 year financial plan, yet these same authorities doesn’t tell these business operators until potentially 31 December  of a year whether they  will have funding for the next year. How can plan on that basis, how can you hire full time staff, lease or even buy suitable premises if you don’t even know if you will have a business next year?

Heath 3

My RTO is audited numerous times each year, but not once have the auditors ever asked to see us training. I have offered that opportunity, but they have never taken me up on it. Apparently that’s not important! It’s all about our documentation and the paper trail.

We have to provide so much evidence and documentation that it’s necessary to pay training staff for an extra 2 hours each session.

Actually I had an audit in mid-November. Well really it was called a performance review to determine if my RTO will be awarded a contract to provide government subsidised training next year.  I was told I could not get a copy of the report and would receive no feedback.  Each time my RTO gets audited, it’s necessary to demonstrate “continuous improvement” in all aspects of our administration and activity, but how can we improve if communication is not a two way street?   Communication subjects are core units in most qualifications, and generally always emphasise feedback and two-way communication. We get audited on these, yet the government authorities auditing us don’t follow any such principles. No suggestions for improvements, only what you have done wrong.

What other industry has to document, save and file records of every meeting or phone call or email they have that justifies any business decision they have made. I am an industry specialist and sometimes I know exactly what electives my clients may need. But unless I’ve documented an industry consultation and meetings with all stakeholders, apparently my experience means nothing.

I now have to save literally every email I send and receive, which number hundreds a week. But then I have the conundrum:  where do I save it? Do I save it in an industry consultation file, do I save it in the clients file? Do I save it in the continuous improvement file?  Or do I save it everywhere. Then to top it off I need to document each improvement I make in a register.  Imagine you had to write down every item you ate, the time you ate it, who recommended you eat it, why food is good for you………. every time you eat anything. That is what my life is becoming like!

I love training and I love my industry and I got into the business because I thought I could make a real difference, be innovative and deliver real outcomes that help the student and the business. But it seems I was somewhat deluded.  I think my RTO is amazing at what it does but I’m so bogged down in paper work, I need to hire others to train, and purchase resources that meet compliance requirements but are bloody boring to train and assess.

I was invited to a meeting the other day at a government department to ask for our feedback on a short course we deliver. It is a licensed course that also provides a nationally recognised unit of competency.

The people running the meeting asking for our advice on the delivery of the course did not even know what a unit of competency was and that they are designed by an industry skills body.  They didn’t ask the industry skills body about the course and when I asked if they can work with us to deliver both a licensed course and a unit of competency, they said ‘that’s not really our concern’.  Seriously, this is what we are dealing with.

The regulatory regime in Australia is slow and cumbersome, expensive to providers, highly interventionist, and neither transparent not consistent. It certainly fails to adhere to the principles of the ideal regulatory model, which emphasise proportionality, necessity and risk management.  And it grows ever more cumbersome.  Whenever a new issue emerges, the invariable response of authorities is to bolt a new bit onto the machine, so that the machine is beginning to resemble something designed by William Heath Robinson, the English cartoonist and illustrator Wikipedia describes as “best known for drawings of ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives”.

The federal government has a stated policy of eliminating the burden of unnecessary regulation on the sector.   As former Commonwealth Skills Minister Ian Macfarlane observed in announcing sweeping deregulation measures last year, “ASQA should be a regulator not a bookkeeper”, requiring RTOs to “jump through endless hoops”.  He said ASQA’s regulatory role will focus on dealing with “rogue operators” and providing education and guidance to ensure “voluntary compliance” with VET standards by RTOs.   Current education minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed the government’s commitment to cracking down on rogue operators and shoddy practice.

But more than good intentions are needed. There needs to be a mindset change: from seeming paranoia to equanimity, from adversarial to collaborative approaches, positive sanctions as well as negative sanctions.




ASQA gets the thumbs up – despite an apparent crisis

16 November 2015     


A survey commissioned by the national regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), reveals an apparent “thumbs up” by stakeholders  for its work on deregulation and slashing redtape.  Meanwhile, in the real world, there’s a sense of crisis in the VET sector, as reported by Fairfax Media (below).  And the Senate has established an inquiry into the Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015 to examine measures proposed to protect students from unscrupulous training colleges. It follows the government’s blocking of Labor amendments to establish a VET Ombudsman and to create a legislated student debt opt-in process to protect them from high pressure sales tactics.


VET: An industry in crisis is an investor’s worst bet

VET in crisis

quote marksAustralia’s vocational education sector has ballooned since the deregulation of the skills and training sector. The Commonwealth will spend $3 billion this year alone on VET (vocational education and training) Fee-Help loans that help students pay for courses once they gain employment. Around another $3 billion is being spent by state governments subsidising certificate or “non-diploma” courses for hundreds of thousands of students.

This multi-billion dollar honey pot has attracted the bees and several, well documented unscrupulous operators, targeting vulnerable people with telemarketing and door-to-door sales and offering courses that are not up to scratch or not appropriate for the student’s capabilities or resembling anything like skills training for a particular industry.

Victoria has had a particularly open slather approach. It was started by the state ALP, tackled under the Coalition government and now being cleaned up by Labor again after a four-year hiatus in opposition. That crackdown has led to 8000 training certificates being torn up, colleges closed, state funding pulled and a raft of audits and reviews that are still ongoing and could result in more qualifications being disallowed as the crackdown enters full swing.

Students in Sydney, while not immune to rogue operators, have had a better outcome due to the state taking a vastly different approach to funding certificate-level courses by capping ‘entitlements’ to funding for courses. Still the state has been conducting an inquiry over 2015 to finesse its vocational education model which still relies heavily on the TAFE sector.


VET: An industry in crisis is an investor’s worst bet

NCVER report reveals lack of scrutiny of VET sector

TDA News    |     10 November 2015


Data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show the continuing fundamental role of  TAFE, as the public provider network, but also demonstrate a worrying failure in scrutiny by policy makers, according to TAFE Directors Australia.


The NCVER report Total VET students and courses 2014 reveals the huge growth in the VET sector to 3.9 million students – almost three times VET Reportthe number in the higher education sector.  The data also show:

  • TAFE and private providers deliver roughly the same number of training hours nationally (41% by TAFE and 45% by private providers) but TAFE remains the dominant provider of Commonwealth/state government funded training;
  • TAFE training is the preferred delivery for the trades, engineering and related fields, management and commerce and community and personal services – all areas vital to the economy;
  • The high average number of students in each TAFE institute relative to private providers demonstrates TAFE’s capacity to outstrip private providers in providing quality services for students;
  • TAFE remains the dominant provider of international trans-national VET delivery.

TDA director Martin Riordan says the report also reveals how ill-informed Australian policy makers have remained until now, on the operations of half of Australia’s training market.  Under the open market environment prevailing in the VET sector:

….private, for-profit providers have collectively exploded as an industry, with the data showing they now deliver to two-thirds of the VET student population.

While Parliament voted down the higher education deregulation legislation under former Education and Training Minister Pyne, the Commonwealth proceeded with VET FEE-HELP loans, in a deregulated open market, on an unprecedented scale.

Riordan points out that this occurred even after the federal regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), continually published warnings about the high risks of many private providers and their questionable marketing practices:

This data actually shows that more than half of the federal funding for VET and VET FEE-HELP student loans – totalling $9.1 billion a year – has been allocated to providers without the scrutiny and data disclosures required for other Commonwealth programs.

While TAFE has been held to account by rigorous reporting to respective state and territory governments, and has been transparent in contributing to NCVER’s national data collection, governments and communities have had very little information about the quality, credentials and motives of the majority of training providers, many of whom are for-profit.

Riordan says the ongoing risk raises a number of questions:

  1. What financial disclosures by training providers should be required in order to obtain access to public training funds and student loans?
  2. Why has it taken so long for lobby groups for private, for-profit colleges to come forward and support such information sharing? and
  3. What critical decisions about VET reform have been made by governments without access to the data, and what changes should be made to governance of this massive tertiary education sector?
Rorts and policies fuel training college explosion
VET: An industry in crisis is an investor’s worst bet

TAFE Directors Australia – Newsletter Newsletter 28 September 2015

TDA Logo snipped

In this edition

Commonwealth takeover of VET would hurt TAFE, federal opposition says

The federal government’s proposal for a Commonwealth takeover of vocational education and training would mean cuts to the TAFE sector, the federal opposition has claimed.

Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird said that “TAFE will be a thing of the past if Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for a Liberal takeover is allowed to happen.”

The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, presented the federal government’s case for a takeover in his address to the TDA national conference in Hobart earlier this month.

The Victorian and West Australian premiers are working on a proposal for a Commonwealth takeover of VET to be presented to COAG before the end of the year.

However, the Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, has strongly ruled out such a move.

“As the minister said last week and as I say now, we do not support a national takeover of that system,” Mr Hodgman said.

Tasmania to invest in skills for seasonal industries

The Tasmanian government is to spend $1.2 million in a new training program to upskill some 1,300 workers in seasonal industries, including food, tourism and hospitality.

The Skills Fund – Seasonal Industries program provides funding to bodies including registered training organisations (RTOs) to prepare workers and communities for seasonal fluctuations.

The Minister for State Growth, Matthew Groom, said about half of the training will take place in the food production/seasonal agriculture sector, about 35% in hospitality and 17% in tourism.

“This funding demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting these vital industries and our regional communities,” he said.

Canberra Institute to deliver technology courses in India

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) is to sign a memorandum of understanding with India as part of a push by the ACT government to promote vocational education on the sub-continent.

The ACT Minister for Education and Training Joy Burch has embarked on a tour of India’s education regions to promote the territory’s capability in vocational training and strengthen education ties.

Ms Burch, along with CIT’s Chief Executive Officer Leanne Cover, will meet with major technology company NeST IT, Indian education ministers and training institutions in the Indian education regions of Kerala and Gujarat over a week to discuss training opportunities.

CIT will sign an MOU to develop training into schools and to the adult population in the areas of spatial information and surveying, and forensic science.

“CIT has a wealth of international experience in delivering training in these specialised areas of technology, and these agreements will help meet the training needs of India’s developing economy and be the beginning of a mutually beneficial international partnership,” Ms Burch said.

Students planning class action against Evocca College

One of the largest private training providers Evocca College, is facing a potential class action from hundreds of former students, according to a report by ABC’s consumer affairs unit.

Solicitor Benjamin Kramer said he is preparing to file documents on behalf of former Evocca College students.

He will allege the company breached consumer law by providing sub-standard courses and using unfair marketing tactics to sign up students.

“I’ve been blown away by how many people have been forthcoming with their own experiences and their own claims of how they’ve felt they’ve been wronged by the school,” he told the ABC.

Evocca College chief executive Craig White said the company was surprised to hear of the potential court action and completely rejects the allegations.

“It is not supported by any demand that has been issued to or received by Evocca,” he told the ABC.

See more.

Book now for Australian Training Awards

The Australian Training Awards presentation dinner will be held at Princes Wharf No. 1, Hobart, Tasmania on Thursday 19 November.

Tickets can be booked by visiting The Event page of the Australian Training Awards website.

Since 1994, the Australian Training Awards have been the peak, national awards for the vocational education and training sector, recognising individuals, businesses and registered training organisations for their contribution to skilling Australia.

For more information, visit or phone 02 6240 8155.

TAFE teachers battle out prestigious language, literacy and numeracy award

One of the highlights of the upcoming Australian Training Awards (see article above) will be the ‘Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award’ where all the finalists are from TAFE. The finalists are:

Lyn Wilson (NSW) – for over 20 years, Lyn has managed the Sydney TAFE – Petersham College Foundation Studies section, historically one of the largest adult basic education units within TAFE NSW. The section is known for its outstanding links with industry and its successful delivery of foundation skills and pre-employment programs.

Leanne Hanson (Queensland) – a language, literacy and numeracy teacher at TAFE Queensland Gold Coast since 2013.Leanne has taught Skills for Education and Employment to primarily disengaged youth through a uniquely inclusive system of learning that has led to a 300% increase in students completing the program.

Liz Birch (Queensland) – has been a language, literacy and numeracy teacher for over 24 years. In the past 15 years with TAFE Queensland Brisbane, Liz has dedicated her working life to assisting migrants successfully overcome cultural and linguistic barriers to integrate into the workforce. Her successful Work Experience Log Book initiative is now being used as a model resource across TAFE Queensland.

TAFE study tour to Singapore and South Korea

TAFEs are invited to take part in a four-day study tour of Singapore and South Korea that will build links between TAFE and industry.

It follows the inaugural 2015 TAFE Study Tour to Asia, which culminated in the report, ‘Vocational training for the Global Economy’, produced by consultants Dandolo Partners, and released at the TDA national conference.

Due to significant interest, the decision has been taken to conduct a similar, but expanded, study tour in 2016, from April 3 – 4.

TDA has provided its support for the initiative, recognising that it will assist in driving deeper linkages between TAFEs and industry. The tour will again be sponsored by SingTel Optus and Cisco.

See more.

Australia-Pacific Technical College seeking country manager for Papua New Guinea

The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) is seeking a candidate to fill the role of country manager in Papua New Guinea.

The appointment is for a three year term commencing in December. Applications close Friday, 9 October.

See more information about the position or contact Marian Wilkinson, Executive Director – Training Development via or phone +679 702 1650.

Diary Dates

NESA National Conference
The Spirit of Collaboration

DATE: 27-29 September 2015
LOCATION: The Marriott Resort Surfers Paradise
DETAILS: More information.

Australian International Education Conference 2015
International education: global, responsible, sustainable

DATE: 6 – 9 October 2015
LOCATION: Adelaide Convention Centre
DETAILS: More information.

Australia India Business Council Queensland Chapter
The Annual Australia India Address 2015-09-18

DATE: 8 October 2015
LOCATION: Stamford Plaza, Brisbane
DETAILS: More information.

2015 Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) Conference
DATE: 11 – 14 October 2015
LOCATION: Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW.
DETAILS: More information.

Webinar – Practitioner research: why it is useful in VET and how it is used and analysed

DATE: 26 October 2015
DETAILS: More information.

2015 AUSTAFE National Conference
Bringing TAFE and VET to the Nation’s Capital

DATE: 28 – 30 October 2015
LOCATION: Canberra
DETAILS: Contact National President

2015 Australian Training Awards
DATE: 19 November 2015

HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia)
The Shape of Higher Education

DATE: 4-7 July 2016
LOCATION: Fremantle
DETAILS: More information

NCVER news

NCVER Insights banner 1


Are vocational streams the key to producing a more adaptable workforce?

NCVER1 Vocational streams could offer a framework for creating better connections between qualifications and jobs than the traditional approach based on specific skill sets for narrowly defined occupations.Show more…

NCVER’s research prospectus is full steam ahead

Through the introduction of the new research prospectus, NCVER is investing in a range of applied research issues that governments and key employer and training provider stakeholders identify as being of highest priority to them.

Show more…


Recognising the prior learning of adult apprentices: a match made in heaven or a rocky relationship?

Apprenticeships are changing, with more people over the age of 25 now undertaking them, and the amount of recognition of prior learning is also increasing. But are adult apprentices taking advantage of these earlier completion options?

Show more…

What factors drive the costs and benefits of apprenticeships and what is the impact of government incentive changes on the apprenticeship system?

A joint research partnership between the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) in Germany and NCVER is exploring two key issues impacting on the apprenticeship system in both Germany and Australia.

Show more…


The outcomes of education and training: what the research is telling us 2011-14

After five years of VET research, what more do we know about the sector?

Show more…

Employers’ views of work integrated learning

Work-integrated learning is a means of increasing students’ experience with the world of work, but what does it mean for employers involved?

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Who is delivering foundation skills?

The need for individuals to build and develop their foundation skills is becoming increasingly important with a general move to greater knowledge-based work. A recent NCVER survey looked at the workforce delivering foundation skills training.

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Older workers: opportunities and challenges

As the workforce ages, the challenge for the VET sector, industry and employers will be to acknowledge the skill base that the older worker brings and to invest in this group further.

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Regulating and quality assuring VET: some international developments

What can Australia learn from our overseas counterparts to ensure quality in the Australian VET system?

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Big opportunities from new reporting requirements: National VET Research Conference wrap up

Youth, pathways and skills – hot topics at the 24th National VET Research Conference.

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NCVER data update

Find out more about the latest data releases on apprenticeships and traineeships, government-funded students and courses, the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, student outcomes, and forthcoming publications.

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ACPET National Monday Update


In Focus

VET FEE HELP continues to be the focus of much attention. The Government has gazetted a number of changes aimed at overcoming some of the criticism of the original version of the program. However there is still a lot of uncertainty in the minds of some providers. Below are some areas where ACPET is fielding a lot of questions:

  • Disclosure of Fees. It is very clear in the Guidelines that VET FEE HELP providers are required to ensure that their course fees are readily available for potential students on advertising and promotional materials. This includes making them available on the organisation’s website. Having a contact arrangement that leads to a sales person who can then provide the enquirer with fee information does not satisfy this requirement.
  • Census Dates. This remains an area of concern. I am aware of providers with two census dates for a diploma course and some with as many as 19 census dates. The lack of a clear understanding of what is meant by a “Unit of Study” has added to the confusion. It appears the Government is looking to mandate four units of study for a diploma course. They also seem to be suggesting four census dates with one in each “term”. There is no clear indication of how this works with rolling intakes and on line delivery. ACPET is continuing its dialogue with the Department seeking clarification of this and other issues. We will provide further advice as soon as it is available.
  • Third Party Arrangements. There are a number of different third party arrangements that have been approved for the delivery of VET FEE HELP courses. Some of the arrangements have resulted in complaints and disputes between the parties, students and other providers. One of the things we believe needs to be very clear in the documented arrangements is the recruitment arrangements. ACPET was so concerned about some of the recruitment practices earlier in the year that we introduced a Code of Practice to provide guidance and some key principles we expect all members to adhere to in this area. Not clearly documenting recruitment arrangements in line with the Code of Practice is unacceptable.
    The other area that is causing problems in some third party arrangements is the lack of certainty around who is the RTO with which the students are enrolled and thus issue the certificate to successful students. Not only does this need to be clearly documented it must also be very clear to students. Although these things are clear in the guidelines, some arrangements that are in place are not as clear as they should be and have caused confusion and complaints… Read more


Proposed Changes to the ESOS Act

The federal government has announced proposed changes to the Educational Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS) that provides a key element of the legislative framework to ensure the delivery of high quality services to international students. The government is inviting submissions on the propos…Read more

Asia Pacific International Education Forum (APIEF) 

ACPET’s Asia Pacific International Education Forum (APIEF) is a key event that aims to develop Education and Training provider’s capabilities to deliver high quality programs to the International market and to build cooperative relationships and capabilities through skills development in t… Read more

CHC & HLT Training Package Implementation Workshops August – September 2015

The Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) is hosting a series of professional development workshops to assist stakeholders to implement the new CHC and HLT Training Packages. These four hour workshops will: Present the HLT and CHC Training Packages in the 2012 Stand… Read more

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