VET funding

The Scan in 2015

 26 December 2015

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On account of other pressing matters in 2015 published editions of The Scan, with a completely refreshed front page heralded to subscribers by an e-newsletter, were down quite a bit – just 21 in 2015 compared to 40 in in 2014. Nevertheless, some 350 items were posted, which is about 8 a week in The Scan’s year, a little down on the 10 items posted a week last year.

Traffic to the Scan website remained strong, down about 20% on last year’s figures. The Scan’s now extensive archive of nearly 3000 posts creates “organic” traffic: over one third of all Scan traffic now flows from search engines and referrals.

Regular readers will have noticed the little ads at the bottom of each page and post. We get paid a teensy weensy amount every time an ad is clicked: over the past three years those ads have contributed $88.02 to Scan coffers.

Most Scan visitors are located in Australia but we do have a small international readership, with visitors from about 100 countries in 2015. This is dominated by visitors from the US (6% of total traffic) who number about double every other country combined, followed by the UK with about 1% of the total.

This year’s top ten reads were heavily skewed towards the “VET crisis” and attempts by authorities (rather belatedly in our view) to stamp out the obvious rorting, particularly in VET FEE-HELP funding, which has been truly scandalous. In fact, the number one post this year on The Scan is also the number one post of all time and by quite a bit. If you enter “rorting” in the search box in the top right hand corner, the archive runs to 5 pages, VET FEE-HELP runs to another 5 pages (obviously with some overlap) and that’s only the start of it. Quite why NSW university offers rated so highly might be explained by the fact that NSW newspapers now provide precious little coverage of the event. The seemingly generous pay arrangements of vice-chancellors certainly attracted reader interest (and good on The Oz for pulling the story together) and academic gongs remains a perennial favourite. However, the weightiest issue of the year in higher education was the late Abbott government’s deregulation package which died ignominiously in the Senate and led to then minister Christopher Pyne’s manic performance as The Fixer in an interview with David Speers on Sky News. 

 

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Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     |     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salesmen who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.   Careers Australia is a market leader in vocational education, with 16 campuses across five states and 14,000 students, and is expanding rapidly by engaging door-to-door salespeople to sign up new students to courses funded by the Federal Government.  Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. Former sales broker Chris Chambers confirmed that sales brokers were taking the entrance exams for potential students, and claimed he saw it happen 40 to 50 times.  These literacy language and numeracy tests were to gauge the eligibility of the student to actually complete the course and potentially pay off their VET FEE debt.   Chambers alleged that communities with high welfare dependence like Hobart’s Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove were deliberately targeted.

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NSW university offers 2015UAC

20 January 2015     |     As in Victoria, the traditional January main round of university offers in NSW, through the University Admissions Centre (UAC), is decreasing in prominence in the calendar. Offers through the year and direct offers are becoming increasingly the norm. This year, universities have made 46,507 offers through UAC ‘s main round, down 4,307 (- 9%) on last year. But the total number of offers to date is actually up a little, at 76,339, up 1,542 ( + 2%) from last year’s 74,792. So, main round offers through UAC are now about 62% compared to 68% last year and almost 100% four or five years ago.

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Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

15 June 2015    |      Australia’s highest paid vice-chancellor saw his salary package increase by $120,000 last year to reach $1.3 million, an analysis of annual reports by The Australian shows.  Michael Spence, head of the University of Sydney, topped the list of 37 vice-chancellors, followed by Greg Craven from the Australian Catholic University ($1.2m); Glyn Davis, University of Melbourne ($1.08m); and Peter Coaldrake, Queensland University of Technology ($1.06m). In all, seven vice-chancellors had salary packages over $1m, including two who left or retired.  At the other end of the spectrum, the analysis of 2014 annual reports showed Kerry Cox, the recently retired head of Edith Cowan University, to be the country’s lowest paid vice-chancellor on $540,000.  The analysis shows that the average salary was $835,000. Male vice-chancellors earned, on average, $853,000 while their eight female counterparts earned an average of $769,000.

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Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

22 April 2015 | Private training provider Vocation has been forced to recall more than 1,000 of its qualifications, including hundreds in child care and Vocationaged care, after Victorian regulators found the courses were sub-standard. Almost 200 students who completed a Certificate III in Child Care, 250 students who completed a Certificate III in Aged Care, and 383 students with a double qualification of business studies will have to hand back their qualifications and inform their employers. A total of 832 students, who all studied with Vocation in Melbourne between January until June last year, are affected. This latest audit by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) follows an investigation last year which found about 6,000 students had studied sub-standard courses. More than 3,500 qualifications were recalled, and Vocation was forced to repay $19.6 million in state government funding.

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Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie15 February 2015    |      The new Victorian Labor government has announced a comprehensive, independent review of the funding of Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) system, as presaged during the election campaign.   Minister for training and skills Steve Herbert says the VET Funding Review will provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE Institutes and private training providers.  According to Herbert, the former Liberal government left Victoria’s training sector in crisis. Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse.  At the same time, Herbert says the former government’s constant changes to subsidy rates have caused confusion and made it difficult to make long-term plans for private providers.  These sudden and repeated changes caused financial instability, undermining the ability of both TAFEs and private training providers to support Victoria’s growing industries.

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Higher education reforms referred back to Senate Committee

12 February 2015   |     Labor, the Greens and four independent senators (Senators Xenophon, Lambie, Muir, Rhiannon and Lazarus) have joined Stephen Parkerforces to establish another inquiry into higher education reform, to report by 17 March. The committee will consider alternatives to deregulation, likely future demand for places and implications on student loans, research infrastructure and regional provision. The inquiry will also look to investigate “the appropriateness and accuracy of government -advertising in support of higher education measures” and “other related matters”.   University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker expects the legislation will be rejected for a second time by the Senate and wants to encourage a national discussion on alternatives to deregulation. University of Canberra vice-chancellor Parker, a strident opponent of the government package, says that the government’s failure to review any options to deregulation was both a “process failure”  and “a democratic failure because it wasn’t flagged at the last election and it was even denied at the election.”

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Academic gongs Australia Day 2015

Order of Australia226 January 2015     |      Six hundred and thirty five Australians  have been recognised with Orders of Australia on Australia Day 2015, while a further 59 military and 130 meritorious awards were announced. Members of the tertiary education sector featured strongly in the honours list, with 81 awards, particularly in the upper categories.  People associated with the tertiary sector received 4 out of the 5 Companion awards (80%), 16 out of 38 Officer awards were to people associated with the tertiary sector (42%), 46 of 156 Member awards (29.5%), for a 33% of the higher awards.  In the most common category of Medal, only 15 of 434 awards were tertiary sector related people (3.4%). Women continue to be under represented with 33% of all awards, mainly in the Medal category.  Only four of the tertiary sector awards were to people in the VET sector.

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Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

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29 June 2015       |       The Victorian Government is launching a major blitz to crackdown on “dodgy” training providers in order to lift standards in sector.   A review by Deloitte has revealed widespread abuses, including qualifications being issued to students who have no demonstrable skills, inappropriate marketing practices, short course duration, providers claiming government funding for non-existent training delivery and poor oversight of third parties delivering training.  Skills minister Steve Herbert said that since November 2014, the government has had to restore funding eligibility for more than 10,000 students who gained inadequate qualifications, and has found dubious practices in a range of qualification areas.   He said the Government will spend $9 million on auditing, interviewing students, ensuring the paperwork was right and make sure they were getting “high-quality” training.  The priority is to crackdown on providers who are doing short course delivery about which there have been complaints and are suspected of not providing quality training.

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Birmingham releases “synthesis report” on HE reform

Birmingham28 October 2015    |        The Commonwealth government has released a synthesis report of the past seven reviews of higher education over the past 30 years rather than conducting a further  separate review in the wake of its failed higher education reform package.  Education minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian Financial Review’s Higher Education Summit said that the government is under intense time pressures to come up with a new and revitalised higher education reform package after its the package devised by former education minister Christopher Pyne was rejected by the Senate twice, largely due to intense community opposition over the plan to deregulate university fees.   The background paper summarises the findings of each major review of higher education from the 1988 Dawkins White Paper to the 2014 Kemp-Norton Review of the Demand Driven Funding System.

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Labor’s TAFE agenda in QueenslandAnnastacia3

With the Labor Party poised to form a minority government in Queensland, its promise to rescue the TAFE sector will now come into sharper Focus.  Queensland VET student numbers fell 38,000 in 2013.During the election campaign, Labor leader and soon to be premier Annastacia Palaszczuk  (who pronounces her surname as “Pallashay”) made a number of commitments to address the vocational educational and training system.

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Image is everything

6 April 2015

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News Corp photographer Brad Hunter will join Tony Abbott’s media staff later this month, raising concerns that news photographers will gain less direct access to the prime minister.

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Abbott & kid asleep
The kid couldn’t take it any longer

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Rebalancing VET in Victoria

Review proposes “a more managed,sustainable training system”

16 December 2015

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The Victorian government has released the Final Report of The VET Funding Review (Mackenzie Report).  It’s a weighty document, both literally and figuratively, running to 173 pages and 109 recommendations. Skills minister Steve Herbert says the government accepts the “general thrust” of the report and its recommendations.  It will take the next year to work through design and implementation issues and to consult with stakeholders ahead of the introduction of a new funding model in 2017.  Certain matters, however, are given, such as restoring the public provider network (TAFE) as the bulwark of quality in the VET system, imposing stricter regulatory and contract compliance on providers and formally abandoning the “open market” approach of the previous government.

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Bruce Mackenzie who undertook review with Neil Coulson
Bruce Mackenzie who undertook review with Neil Coulson

In their introduction to the report, reviewers Bruce Mackenzie (formerly CEO of Holmesglen Institute) and Neil Coulsen, (formerly CEO of VECCI and newly appointed as Victoria’s Skills Commissioner) observe that there has been too much change, too quickly, with almost overnight changes in subsidy levels, which have proved highly destabilising to the VET system overall and laid waste to a significant public asset in the TAFE network (the latter is our interpretation, not their actual words).

They state their purpose as proposing measures to rebalance the system so the “design, incentives and administration promote quality training…to restore stability… and value to the system”:

In recent years, too much of the system has been driven by provider behaviour, rather than supporting students to make informed training decisions, or to protect them from opportunistic or unethical behaviour.  There has been too much emphasis on increasing both the number of providers and the intensity of competition between them, and not enough care taken in ensuring they are delivering quality training. There has been too much focus on increasing the volume of training, and not enough on whether the training leads to positive outcomes for the students such as employment and further education.

The report doesn’t bag the concept of contestability, just the way successive governments have gone about it:

Contestability can, if properly implemented, drive innovation, efficiency and improvement across the sector.  But government cannot simply declare something contestable, open up the market and hope that it works. It needs to design and administer the market more carefully, guided by the outcomes it seeks achieve.

That’s a pretty good summary of all that has gone wrong – all of it quite predictable – in Victoria, at least, over the last five or six years.

The proposed measure that’s attracted immediate attention is the introduction of a price signal (or “co-payment”, if you prefer).  The rationale is that reintroducing a standard fee is a way to make students or their employers more conscious that a training entitlement, under the Victorian Training Guarantee, is limited and not free.  If student makes a poor choice enticed by “no fees”, the student might exhaust their entitlement.  Disadvantaged students would get concessional rates.

While the overwhelming bulk of Victorian RTOs are covered by the national regulatory regime, through the Australian Skills Quality Authority, state governments have significant de facto regulatory heft through their control of funding levers: they can determine who does and who doesn’t get access to public funding (in Victoria through the Victorian Training Guarantee – VTG).  The report portends a further tightening of access rules (which have tightened considerably over the past year already), which would include empowering the Auditor–General  to audit private providers in receipt of public funding.  It also proposes a system of “classification of providers, based on VET capacity and financial and organizational stability.   Allied to this would be the negotiation of “compact” agreements with highly rated providers which would encompass outcomes-based funding and include performance measures. The successful attainment of performance measures would result in lighter auditing and reporting arrangements.  While smaller and specialist providers would not be excluded from VTG funding, in a budget capped system (as already announced by the minister and provided in the review’s terms of reference), it would mean that providers in compact arrangements would be, in effect, “preferred” providers.

To manage training expenditure within the existing budget, it is proposed that enrolment limits be placed on individual providers.

The VET budget (currently capped at $1.2 b a year) would comprise:

  • a general pool of contestable VTG funding – that is, all funding for enrolments in training at both government and non-government providers;
  • an allocation to support provision in thin markets (which might be allocated on a tender basis):
  • funding to continue concession arrangements;
  • an allocation for a workforce innovation fund, which would focus on initiatives to improve workforce productivity at an industry or firm level and perhaps provide some funding for applied research
  • a specific allocation to meet the costs, obligations and restrictions placed on TAFE institutions; and,
  • an allocation for community service grants (which might also be allocated on a tender basis).

To manage training expenditure within the existing budget, it is proposed that enrolment limits be placed on individual providers.

It is proposed that restrictions on subcontracting by VTG providers be further tightened so that a small portion of the delivery of a qualification can be delivered be delivered by another provider.  This is to prevent, for example, where a qualification appears to be from a capable provider, but a significant part of the training is undertaken by a lower-capability provider.

At the heart of this report is restoring the much rundown fortunes of TAFE in the VET system.  In addition to recent government initiatives, such as the Rescue TAFE Fund, the report proposes a number of interventions to improve the position of these institutes and to make them sustainable as It says that TAFEs face costs, obligations and restrictions that other providers do not and which inhibit their capacity to compete in the training market. The measures include:

  • the minister making a clear statement about the role of TAFE institutes in Victorian VET (and we would add the economy and community);
  • funding institutes for some of the obligations imposed upon them by virtue of public ownership; and,
  • developing a compact which involves TAFE institutes responding to government priorities, as well as identifying their communities’ educational and training needs, negotiating these with government and meeting agreed outcomes.

The review also gives a big tick of approval to the concept of a “polytechnic university” (as long advocated by Mackenzie himself – and The Scan).  As defined in the report, a polytechnic university would be a type of university offering higher education underpinned by VET programs, that meet the needs of industry, enterprises and students by being applied in nature and closely demonstrating the link between theory and practice.  The target group would be students who do not follow conventional pathways to tertiary education and training.  It proposes a detailed examination of the utility and place of such a type of institution in the Victorian tertiary landscape.

In what might be seen as something less than a tick of approval of ASQA, the report proposes the establishment of a VET Quality Assurance Office to develop standards (and presumably police them) in relation to market entry requirements for a VTG contract, protocols for training, standards for marketing VET courses, registration of brokers and aggregators (such as Acquire Learning) and “other matters associated with maximizing student outcomes”.

In addition, the office would have a role in conducting strategic reviews of industries and qualifications, identifying and investigating systemic issues and risks, and would have responsibility for outsourcing activities such as the development of the proposed provider classification system.

A VET Quality Funding Office would be responsible for contractual arrangements and managing the State’s relationship with training providers, including payments. It would be responsible for the development of an investment plan and monitoring provider performance and contract compliance.

The Victorian government generally only funds training for those people seeking to undertake a qualification at a higher level than the one they hold.  The Review some refinements to the upskilling requirement that in some circumstances, people can receive government support to re-train at the same qualification level. Exemptions proposed are:

  • people under the age of 24;
  • long-term unemployed (greater than 12 months);
  • workers who have been retrenched; and d. people with qualifications older than 7 years.; and,
  • people returning to the labour force after an extended absence from the upskilling requirement.

People exempt from the eligibility exemptions would be required to attend an approved provider in the first instance, TAFE institutes.

In response, skills minister Steve Herbert said the government supports, in general, the review’s proposals for “a more managed, targeted and Steve Herbertcontestable system that better links training to industry and job outcomes, guarantees additional funds for TAFEs, and ensures only quality training providers receive government funding.” He said:

A training system that delivers quality and industry relevant skills is vital to improving productivity, creating jobs and increasing Victoria’s economic growth. The Andrews Labor Government will take a more hands-on role in the VET system to support strong public TAFEs and Learn Local organisations.

He said matters that would be given attention include general adherence by VTG_approved to the notional volume of learning in a qualification and rationalisation of courses that would be eligible for funding under VTG (from something like 3,000 to 700 as in NSW.

The reforms to be developed over the coming year would revolve around six themes:

  • a clear vision for VET in Victoria, targeted to meeting industry need and providing job outcomes;
  • a responsive and sustainable model that promotes lifelong learning;
  • defining clear roles for TAFEs and community sectors to ensure strong and sustainable systems;
  • transparency for students, industry and employers;
  • supporting quality and continuous improvement; and,
  • promotion of equity for learners of all abilities.
 See
VET_Funding_Review
Skills_and_Jobs_Ed_State_Response
One size doesn’t fit all unis

 

“Further work” needed on COAG VET reforms

VET funding a “race to the bottom”, NSW skills minister says

TDA News   |     14 December 2015

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, state premiers and chief ministers have agreed to more closely review reforms and regulation, which had begun under the original COAG National Partnership Agreement on skills – initially created in April 2012 under Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

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VET ReformThe COAG meeting in Sydney on 11 December 2015 agreed that “further work will be undertaken on options to reform vocational education and training, for initial consideration at COAG’s first meeting in 2016, recognising that skills ministers will continue to work together to address key VET system challenges.”

Martin Riordan, Chief Executive of TDA said the recent meeting in Hobart of state and territory ministers with Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Luke Hartsuyker, had questioned the proposed transfer of responsibility for VET to the Commonwealth, with some ministers pointing to federal mismanagement of VET FEE-HELP loans, as an example of capacity problems under such a plan.

Riordan said:

The National Partnership Agreement on skills reform from 2012 has been a disaster.  Industry and students have been hampered by waste on a scale not witnessed in the VET sector, and worse, matched almost exactly by the withdrawal of federal incentives to employers on apprenticeships and traineeships

It is pleasing that this COAG meeting has flagged a wider review of current VET policy, and how it is impacting industry and students.”

Training ministers for NSW and Victoria also signalled last week their dissatisfaction with current vocational education policy, and the need for changes.

NSW skills minister John Barilaro says the ongoing private college issue is hurting the economy because small businesses are not getting the skilled workforce they need.

He told the Council of Small Business Australia that billions of dollars had been wasted because of a lack of proper outcomes for small businesses and young people:

Let me just make it absolutely clear – what you hear about VET-FEE HELP is a problem the federal government created, not the state

If the feds actually copied the NSW state’s process when it comes to vocational education and training, we wouldn’t have had this problem.

We should be funding training on outcomes not on sign-ups and enrolments. It’s been a race to the bottom on enrolments under the VET-FEE HELP process.

Venting about VET

Disheartened, disillusioned and downright angry

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Phoenix crashes and burns

22 October 2015

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The Australian Career Network (ACN), an ASX-listed private training provider, is under intense scrutiny, as several of its subsidiaries are sanctioned for rorting government funding and exploiting students.

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PhoenixThe Phoenix Institute, which enrols students through the VET FEE-HELP scheme, has been given notice by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) of ASQA’s “intention to cancel its registration as a provider of vocational education and training and educational services including to overseas students”.

Phoenix has 21 days (until 4 November) to make a case to ASQA that its registration not be cancelled.

Fairfax Media has described Phoenix as a “multimillion-dollar get-rich-quick scheme masquerading as an educational institution.”

It is claimed that Phoenix had employed dozens of sales people, many working door to door, to enrol vulnerable people, including drug addicts and those with intellectual disabilities, online diploma courses they would never complete, with the inducement of free laptops.  Each new student signed up generated an $18,000 government payment to the college, and a debt for the student.

This included Euroa couple Arthur and Jacinda Eastham, who both have intellectual disabilities, live in a housing commission and were targeted by a Phoenix salesman.   In late April he knocked on their door and enrolled Jacinda in a diploma in early childhood and education, despite her case worker telling him she had an intellectual disability and was unsuitable.

ASQA said it had acted following comprehensive regulatory scrutiny of Phoenix over a number of months, prompted by complaints received from students.  The investigation had “uncovered significant non-compliance” with the standards expected of nationally registered training organisations.

Separately, the Victorian government cancelled its Victorian Training Guarantee contract with another Australian Careers Network entity, the Australian Management Academy, after “an independent review”.  The state’s education department is also investigating three other colleges owned by Australian Careers Network – COVE Training, Heron Assess and Smart Connection Training.

There are 1,688 government funded students enrolled at AMA who are affected by the termination of AMA’s VTG funding contract. The government said it will support them in transitioning to a TAFE institute if required, in order to complete their training.

Australian Careers Network has suspended trading in its shares  until 21 November to allow it time “to address the correspondence and Notices regarding non-compliances received from regulators including the Department of Education.”

ACN is part of a fast-growing private vocational education industry, which has seen debt rising from $25 million in 2009 to $4 billion today.

TAFE Directors Australia – Newsletter Newsletter 28 September 2015

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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 www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au 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 marian.wilkinson@aptc.edu.au 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.

OCTOBERVET
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 Jerome.DeRose@cit.edu.au

2015 Australian Training Awards
DATE: 19 November 2015
LOCATION: Hobart
DETAILS: www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au

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

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

The Scan # 173 22 July 2015

VET matters

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News

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Vic international strategy directions 

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21   July 2015    |   The Victorian government has released a discussion paper on international education as part of its $200 million Future Industries Fund. The paper covers all three education sectors (higher education, VET and schools).  It proposes nine strategic directions, including developing more markets to reduce reliance on the two traditionally big markets of China and India.  It also proposes greater international engagement of the schools sector and growing international provision in regional institutions.  It notes that the experience that international students have of living in a particular location influences that place’s attractiveness as an education destination and therefore the need to ensure that international students have a positive experience of their study in Victoria.  Comment on the paper is open until 17 August….[ MORE ]….

Qld boosts training and TAFE funding

qld-tafe21 July 2015     |      The Queensland government has allocated $337.2 million over 4 years for training initiatives in its budget delivered on 15 July. This includes the reintroduction of the reintroduction of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative. Skilling Queenslanders for Work represents an investment of $240 million over four years to support 32,000 Queenslanders back into work and boost the skills of the Queensland workforce.  The budget provides $34.5 million over the next four years to restore TAFE Queensland to as the premier provider of VET in Queensland. Funding will be directed at helping TAFE Queensland deliver foundation courses, increase the number of qualifications available through VET in schools and hire additional teaching and support staff…..[ MORE ]….

Vic VET issues paper releasedSave our TAFE

16 July 2015    |     The Victorian VET Funding Review has released an Issues Paper, ahead of making its final report to the Victorian government, due at the end of August. While it argues that TAFE needs greater support, the Review is operating on the premise that a contestable system will continue and will need to operate within the existing budget. The paper observes that, if properly implemented, contestability has the ability to drive innovation, efficiency and improvement, and empower students and industry to choose their training and provider….[ MORE ]….

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Milestones

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Warren Tapp to head new TAFE group

17 July 2015

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A new voice for the Australian TAFE sector – TAFE Chairs Australia  –  has been established.

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TAFE Chairs Australia is made up of chairpersons (or equivalent) of TAFE from Australian States and Territories. The group comes together with a Warren Tappcharter to raise the profile of VET and TAFE, as well as proactively engage on associated national issues.

Speaking at the Victorian TAFE Association State Conference about reform of TAFE in recent years, Warren Tapp, the inaugural chair of the group,   said:

TAFE Chairs have an obligation to actively promote the important contribution TAFEs across Australia make to the national economy and growing productivity.  There has been significant advancement within the VET sector nationally including new governance arrangements for some TAFEs. These emerging arrangements have given rise to the formation of TAFE Chairs Australia.

He said TAFE Chairs bring a commercial and governance focus from outside government and the VET sector as a key contribution to national discussions about VET and TAFE.

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Comment & analysis

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Improving equity through VET FEE-HELP

21 July 2015

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Two of the key architects of the original HECS, Dr Tim Higgins and Professor Bruce Chapman, have produced a new report that argues for significant reform to the income contingent loan scheme that would extend it to more VET students while making it affordable. 

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Go8 Equity scales

 They argue that extending income contingent loans to more VET students is required to ensure equity among tertiary students,  but this would require adjustment to the current system otherwise it would not be financially sustainable or equitable. They note that when compared to university graduates, Certificate III and IV completers have low incomes and, for women, low employment outcomes. They propose that,  unless government funding for tertiary education is increased, there is a persuasive case for reducing the income repayment threshold, reducing the repayment rate and imposing a uniform loan surcharge across all tertiary students.

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Realigning the VET system

21 July 2015

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With the the Prime Minister and the Premiers and First Ministers  gathering in Canberra for a retreat on reform options for Australia’s fractitious, if not fractured, Federation, all the chatter is round increasing the rate of the GST from 10% to 15%,  either to “compensate” the states/territories for whacking cuts in Commonwealth grants in future years, which has a dark logic to it,  or to make way for income tax cuts, which doesn’t seem to have too much logic to it all.  But there are other proposals on the table.  SA Premier Jay Weatherill, in a speech to the National Press Club, has proposed, among other things, a realignment of Commonwealth and State responsibilities in education.  

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Jay WeatherillHe proposes that States and Territories be responsible for the education of people from birth to the end of secondary schooling, and the Federal Government dealing with everything beyond – including higher education and vocational education and training (VET).  While the States retain nominal ownership of higher education, the Commonwealth calls the shots throgh its primary funding role and through the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, which regulates the sector.  The Commonwealth has an important role in VET, particularly through the Australian Skills Quality Agency,  but in funding, the States retain primary responsibility in VET.   Similarly, the Commonwealth has an important role in funding schools education, particularly for equity purposes and as a catalyst for reform, but schools remain the province of the States (although the Commonwealth provides the overwhelming proportion of funding for private schools, which would be an issue).  There is considerable logic for a transfer of VET to the Commonwealth, to create consistency in funding and policy, and it’s an idea that has been around since at least the “New Federalism” of the early nineties and was actually agreed to in 1991, but fell over when Paul Keating knocked off Bob Hawke as Prime Minister.  Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come, though you’d be right to be cautious of the equity implications of the Commonwealth vacating schools funding, particularly in the absence of some sort of funding settlement around Gonski (a point made by Weatherill).  But let’s at least keep the proposal on the table and see where it might lead.

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In defence of good research wherever it is found

21 July 2015

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In response to commentary deprecating The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 12 by Roger Wilkins of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at The University of Melbourne, Conor King,  the Executive Director of the Innovative Research Universities Group,  provides his perspective on the valuable insight which the Survey presents. 

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The commentary on The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 12 by Roger Wilkins of Hilda2the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at The University of Melbourne has been sidetracked by one plausible statistic, neglecting the full import of the Survey.

The Survey confirms the earning value from higher levels of education, particularly for women.  It shows that, for women, having a higher education degree is important for the likelihood of employment.  That is not so for men who tend to be employed but with lower earnings if not a graduate.

Those outcomes are not necessarily new but since they based on a cohort covering multiple generations they underpin the value from expanding the take up of higher education, a core mission of IRU members.

The new aspect coming from the survey is the hint that school results let alone intelligence are not long term strongly correlated with income. Rather it is the fact of education.

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A snapshot of the Victorian VET sector

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Life & stuff

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21 July 2015

The bloody ABC’s done it again

Heads must roll

 

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One Hundred Stories

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Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

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Wall of Commemoration
The One Hundred Stories are a silent presentation. They remember not just the men and women who lost their lives, but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war. The Great War shaped the world as well as the nation. Its memory belongs to us all.

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Noticeboard

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VTA

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ACPET Conference

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TDA Conf 2015

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Velg conf

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The VET Store

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The VET Store is a  service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

VET Development Centre
Click image to find out more!

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Radio Double Karma on Pandora

Adult contemporary music

The Fray…London Grammar…Leonard Cohen…Dixie Chicks…Peter Gabriel…Of Monsters and Men…Krishna Das…Cold Play…Snow Patrol….Clck hereAretha Franklin

You do need to sign up to listen but it’s free (for the first 40 hours a month)

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Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!

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Realigning the VET system

21 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

With the the Prime Minister and the Premiers and First Ministers  gathering in Sydney for a retreat on reform options for Australia’s fractitious, if not fractured, Federation, all the chatter is round increasing the rate of the GST from 10% to 15%,  either to “compensate” the states/territories for whacking cuts in Commonwealth grants in future years, which has a dark logic to it,  or to make way for income tax cuts, which doesn’t seem to have too much logic to it all.  But there are other proposals on the table.  SA Premier Jay Weatherill, in a speech to the National Press Club, has proposed, among other things, a realignment of Commonwealth and State responsibilities in education.  He proposes that States and Territories be responsible for the education of people from birth to the end of secondary schooling, and the Federal Government dealing with everything beyond – including higher education and vocational education and training (VET).  While the States retain nominal ownership of higher education, the Commonwealth calls the shots throgh its primary funding role and through the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, which regulates the sector.  The Commonwealth has an important role in VET, particularly through the Australian Skills Quality Agency,  but in funding, the States retain primary responsibility in VET.   Similarly, the Commonwealth has an important role in funding schools education, particularly for equity purposes and as a catalyst for reform, but schools remain the province of the States (although the Commonwealth provides the overwhelming proportion of funding for private schools, which would be an issue).  There is considerable logic for a transfer of VET to the Commonwealth, to create consistency in funding and policy, and it’s an idea that has been around since at least the “New Federalism” of the early nineties and was actually agreed to in 1991, but fell over when Paul Keating knocked off Bob Hawke as Prime Minister.  Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come, though you’d be right to be cautious of the equity implications of the Commonwealth vacating schools funding, particularly in the absence of some sort of funding settlement around Gonski (a point made by Weatherill).  But let’s at least keep the proposal on the table and see where it might lead.

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Jay WeatherillI believe that reforming the Federation is crucial and that we have the perfect opportunity to start the process at the Prime Minister’s Leaders’ Retreat in a fortnight’s time.

Our Federation isn’t broken, but it is under strain.

The Commonwealth’s decision to unilaterally break an agreement and impose $80 billion of cost shift to the States and Territories is an issue of fundamental importance that must be addressed at the Leaders’ Retreat.

It’s difficult to imagine any vision for an effective Federation that doesn’t involve each level of government keeping their promises to one another. Nevertheless, I’m excited by the opportunity for reform that the Retreat offers our nation.

I’m confident of our ability to bring about change because we’ve done it before – witness the economic reforms of the Hawke-Keating governments in the 1980s and 1990s. 9 Federal and State governments generally worked well together to achieve those results.

And we’re going to need a new attitude and framework for cooperation if we’re to improve the way we provide health, education and other social services to Australians.

It’s time now for Premiers and Chief Ministers to have more of a say.

Given that many of the major reforms requiring Federal decisions have already been made, from here on States and Territories are the next frontiers of reform.

I think the attitude of most Australians is that they expect decent services to be delivered properly by government, but that they’re not too fussed about which level of government does what. And they’re certainly turned off by useless political bickering among the jurisdictions.

Australians want to live in a country where they have access to secure, well-paid jobs, good health care and education, a home to raise a family, and where they receive adequate support as they age.

In light of all I’ve said, it’s time for Australia to consider major – not modest – reform of the Federation.

Our country needs to improve the productivity and effectiveness of our health services to underpin the wellbeing of families and communities. We need to create better education systems so that – ultimately – children can fulfil their potential and be in a position to take advantage of opportunity.

We need to unlock infrastructure investment, as failure in this area constrains our nation’s growth. And we need to make the dream of a place to call home a reality for more Australians.

I’ll be taking a comprehensive set of productivity reforms to the Leaders’ Retreat to help build a more certain and secure future for Australians, and I want to tell you about some of them now.

My first proposal is to reform the education system.

It essentially involves the States and Territories handling the education of people from birth to the end of secondary schooling, and the Federal Government dealing with everything beyond – including higher education and vocational education and training.

Put another way, it would be a new demarcation of responsibilities – the States responsible for the development and education of people, and the Commonwealth responsible for their work and welfare.

Under this split, State governments like mine would be the sole manager of early childhood development, prevention and early intervention services, primary and secondary education.

This would involve the transfer of responsibility for child care from the Commonwealth to the States. And we’d deal with policy, regulation and the delivery of public services.

As for funding arrangements, the current Commonwealth spend on these services would either continue through a single block-funding grant to the States or through some other ongoing funding transfer.

All this should take place in the context of my State’s and the Commonwealth’s continuing commitment to the Gonski funding arrangements.

My suggested change to education would mean better outcomes for children and young people – especially those with learning difficulties – through better investment in the early years. At the moment, State governments engage with children from birth to about age one through antenatal services, health checks and immunisations.

If a child is healthy and developing from age one to four, most of their contact is with Commonwealth-subsidised child care and the occasional visit to the family doctor.

This means that States often “lose sight” of children between one and four, unless it’s through episodic contact with specialist services. As a result, it’s often the case that – by the time they reenter the State preschool and schooling system – learning and other problems have deteriorated or become entrenched.

The long-term costs of addressing the effects of these issues – such as through health – are borne by the States.

Evidence shows that a person’s physical, neurocognitive and social foundations are well established by five years of age.

As a former Minister for Education, I’m acutely aware that those who fall short of key developmental milestones by five years find these gaps very difficult to close.

The late Dr Fraser Mustard – a Canadian expert in early childhood development and a former Adelaide Thinker in Residence – put the imperative in stark financial terms. He said that every dollar government spends supporting the development of children saves between four and eight dollars over the longer term.

Given that the principal focus of the Gonski reforms was the adequate funding of the bottom 20% of students with learning needs, all the evidence suggests this objective will be greatly assisted by starting earlier.

Education reform is profoundly important for the transition from the “old” to the “new” economy because knowledge industries need workers who are creative thinkers.

In my opinion, this is the real productivity agenda for the nation – not a narrow focus on punitive industrial relations measures.

TDA Newsletter 20 July 2015

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HECS architects urge change to repayments and extension to VET

Two of the key architects of the original HECS have produced a new report that argues for significant reform to the income contingent loan scheme that would extend it to more VET students while making it affordable.

The report, ‘Feasibility and design of a tertiary education entitlement in Australia: Modelling and costing a universal income contingent loan’, has been prepared by Dr Tim Higgins and Professor Bruce Chapman for the Mitchell Institute.

They argue that extending income contingent loans to more VET students is required to ensure equity among tertiary students.

But they say this would require adjustment to the current system otherwise it would not be financially sustainable or equitable.

“For our exercises it is important to note that when compared to university graduates, Certificate III and IV completers have low incomes and, for women, low employment outcomes,” the report says.

They argue that unless government funding for tertiary education is increased, there is a persuasive case for reducing the income repayment threshold, reducing the repayment rate and imposing a uniform loan surcharge across all tertiary students.

 


Victoria’s VET review proposes funding shake-up

Victoria’s review of the VET sector has examined ways of preserving government funding for high quality providers, protecting students from rorts, and easing the regulatory burden on low risk providers.

The VET Funding Review is headed by former TDA chair Bruce Mackenzie. Its latest Issues Paper examines ways of better linking training to the needs of industry and supporting the role of TAFE.

“Many felt that the administrative, audit and compliance requirements on providers were both overly burdensome and of limited value, being too focussed on inputs and paper-based checks, rather than concern for the quality of training provided,” the review says.

“TAFEs are at different stages of a transition and structural reform process, and some TAFEs considered that a degree of consolidation would be either necessary or desirable in the medium term to ensure the viability of the TAFE sector.”

It notes “repeated and erratic funding changes” by government, largely in response to poor provider behaviour.

“However, a number of stakeholders likened government’s response to the ‘whack-a-mole’ game, where the latest example of undesirable behaviour is ‘whacked’ by the government, only for other undesirable behaviour to pop up elsewhere.”

See the VET Funding Review.


Minister Birmingham flags growth in China partnerships

The Minister for Skills and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, has actively promoted the expansion of Australian China partnerships in delivering vocational education and training.

Last week the minister led a delegation of Australian VET representatives to China, which included TDA Deputy Chair Dianne Murray.

The minister announced a number of initiatives including cooperation between ASQA and CEAIE in ensuring the quality of joint provision as well as greater opportunities for cooperation through the Australia China Free Trade Agreement.

The minister also singled out Box Hill Institute of TAFE’s partnership with the Shanghai Pharmaceutical School as a “brilliant example of Australian international vocational education”.

TAFE institutes across Australia have led the development of joint programs in China with almost 50,000 students currently studying Australian qualifications through these partnerships.

See more.


Minister sees Sydney TAFE’s Korea polytechnic project    

Minister Birmingham visiting Korea Polytechnic

The Minister for Skills and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham was welcomed last Friday by Sydney TAFE Institute Director David Riordan as he visited Korea Polytechnic (KOPO).

Sydney TAFE has negotiated with KOPO to deliver competency based training for over 1,000 of its current teachers over the next three years.

KOPO is the only comprehensive technical vocational education and training college in Korea, with 46 years of history.  It has been backed by the Korean government’s financial support since the vocational training law was enacted in 1967.

It moved to competency based training two years ago and is now looking to upskill 1,500 staff over the next three years.

The minister met the first group of trainees as they commenced their training program, which includes further training and assessment in Sydney. Minister Birmingham also hosted an industry forum and reception in Seoul.


Victoria releases international student growth strategy

The Victorian government has proposed new avenues to grow the state’s international education sector.

It has released a discussion paper on international education as part of its $200 million Future Industries Fund.

It says the VET sector accounts for 25% of international students in Victoria, with major markets being India and China.

“The nature of global demand for training and the recent resurgence of key competitors like the United Kingdom and Germany means that Victoria’s VET offering must become increasingly nimble and targeted,” it says.

“In many instances this may mean delivering customised training products and skills sets which, while not leading to a qualification, draw on VET providers’ experience in delivering Australian training package qualifications.”

See the international education discussion paper.


Findings of three-year vocations project to be outlined at Sydney, Melbourne seminars

Is there a new way of thinking about vocational pathways from school and VET into the labour market?

Are narrow qualifications with limited employment outcomes still relevant?

Two LH Martin Institute seminars (Sydney, Thursday 23 July and Melbourne, Wednesday 29 July) are the outcome of the three-year Vocations project, which proposes a fundamental change in the way post-compulsory education is structured as a pathway to work.

Experts at the Sydney seminar include Pam Christie (TAFE NSW), Peta Furnell (VET Reform Taskforce) and Andrew Dettmer (Australian Manufacturing Workers Union).

Melbourne will feature Rod Camm (ACPET), Pat Forward (Australian Education Union) and Craig Robertson (Victorian Department of Education and Training).

Each seminar will hear presentations from Professor John Buchanan (University of Sydney) and Jodieann Dawe (NCVER), while Professor Leo Goedegebuure (LH Martin Institute) will be facilitator.

Register for the seminars.

See the report.



Diary Dates

2015 ACODE Learning Technologies Leadership Institute
DATE: 17-21 August 2015
LOCATION: Mantra at Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
DETAILS: More information

TAFE Managers Association 2015
DATE: 21 August 2015
LOCATION: Luna Park, Sydney
DETAILS: More information coming soon.

National Skills Week
DATE: 24-30 August 2015
DETAILS: More information.

VET Development Centre
Teaching and Learning Conference

DATE: 3-4 September 2015
LOCATION: RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
DETAILS: More information.

TDA National Conference
DATE: 9-11 September 2015
LOCATION: Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart
DETAILS: More information.

National VET Conference
Velg Training

DATE: 17-18 September 2015
LOCATION: Adelaide Convention Centre
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.

2015 Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) Conference
DATE: 11 – 14 October 2015
LOCATION: Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW.
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 Jerome.DeRose@cit.edu.au

ACPET National Monday Update 20 July 2015

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In Focus

A busy week in the sector 

The last week saw some further developments in the on-going debate in vocational education and training.

ACPET appeared at the Senate Inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational educational and training providers in Australia.

The inquiry focussed on issues in the sector including suggested inadequate regulation, the role and regulation of brokers and the performance of RTOs. We took the opportunity to explain the real difference private providers do make in the sector and how a quality provider can deliver a high end product to the benefit of students and industry.

ACPET will continue to advocate strongly in these types of inquiries to ensure politics and bias do not get in the way of a genuine policy debate, and to try and ensure a balanced approach to public policy. A big thanks to Neil Shilbury and Martin Powell for their help in the session, and also to Amjad Khanche of the Australian Institute of Professional Education for his submission and appearance. Amjad’s explanation of the tremendous support strategies given to students, as their College’s point of difference was particularly compelling, as was his description of the difference between a Mercedes and Toyota in describing education choices! Well done!

The week also saw the release of the Victorian Government’s Funding Review. An interesting read indeed.

It is important to note that this is an issues paper and not government policy. That may explain some of the views in the document, however there is a real opportunity to now focus on the consultation questions in the paper, which perhaps give an insight into possible directions. We will certainly be scrutinising the paper closely and will respond to the questions with the view to influencing the final direction. We remain steadfastly committed to supporting reputable providers to deliver quality vocational education and training. More red tape and bureaucracy will not help outcomes. However, strategic market design, monitoring and risk based regulation will…. Read more

National

Register Now to save! Every sixth Registration Free Edition 613, 20 Jul

Group Registration Register Now to save! Every sixth Registration Free. Five conference participants from the same organisation must register (at the same time and the same registration type) for the group registration. Global perspectives on education and learning at APIEF Learn why Sushil Ra… Read more

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