VET reform

The Scan #176 16 December 2015



Rebalancing Victorian VET

skills (1)

16 December 2015     |     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 its previous government….[ READ MORE ]…..

VET -“more work needed”

14 December 2015    |      Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, state premiers and chief ministers have agreed to more closely review reforms and Race to the bottomregulation, which had begun under the original COAG National Partnership Agreement on skills – initially created in April 2012 under Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  The 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.”  Training ministers for NSW and Victoria also signalled their dissatisfaction with current vocational education policy, with NSW minister John Barilaro describing current VET FEE-HELP arangements as “a race to the bottom” ….[ READ MORE ]……

Job axe to fall at UWA


14 December 2015    |    The University of Western Australia (UWA) will lay off 300 staff as part of sweeping cuts aimed at reducing costs. The university will slash 100 academic positions and 200 professional positions early next year.  Fifty new academic positions will be created to enhance the university’s “capability and impact in areas of comparative advantage”.  UWA vice-chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said in a statement that 2015 had been a challenging year for the Australian higher education sector.  National Tertiary Education Union WA secretary Gabe Gooding said the union is outraged and that there is no justification for sacking 300 staff when the university made a $90 million operational surplus in 2014….[ READ MORE ] ….


VET FEE-HELP skewering VET

11 December 2015      |       Explosive growth in the VET FEE-HELP scheme has masked massive direct public disinvestment in vocational education and training. While a report by NCVER shows a notional growth of 1.7% in 2014 over 2013 (plus $141.0 million, from $8512.4 million to $8653.4 million), it’s all in VET-FEE Help payments: actual direct expenditure by governments, including the Commonwealth declined markedly VET FEE-HELP. ….[ READ MORE ]…..

Innovating an “ideas boom”


7 December 2015      |       Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled his much-anticipated Innovation Statement, saying he wanted to drive an “ideas boom”. The statement allocates almost $1.1 billion over the next four years to promote business-based research, development and innovation.  A key focus of the plan revolves around strengthening ties between the business community, universities and scientific institutions.
A $200 million innovation fund will co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities. CSIRO will also get an extra $20 million to help commercialise research outcomes….[ READ MORE ]…..


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Neil Coulson named Victorian Skills Commissioner

16 December 2015


Mr Coulson has extensive experience working in industry and was the CEO of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) from 2000 to 2007.  He has also held a number of other senior roles in industry including Chief of Australian Manufacturer Jacyo Corporation from 2007 to 2012 and was a member of the Victorian Learning and Employment Skills Commission between 2001 and 2004.


Neil Coulson



Comment & analysis


16 December 2015

Time to end the exploitation of vulnerable people

The case for REAL reform


It’s hard to argue with the proposition that Australia’s vocational education sector is a mess.  Mary Leahy (University of Melbourne) writes that tightening regulation and tweaking some of the settings will contain the damage, but these measures alone will not address deeper problems in the sector.   Real, sustained improvement requires rethinking the funding and regulatory models but also the purpose and idea of vocational education.



VET Reform

There is clear evidence of rorting and rent-seeking in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

The behaviour of some training providers, agents and brokers is nothing short of despicable. Thousands of students are being signed up to courses that they have little or no chance of completing.

The business model is fairly simple:

    • Register as a training provider and ensure your students have access to VET FEE HELP income-contingent loans.
    • Sign up as many students as possible for single or double diplomas.
    • The student takes on a VET FEE HELP loan to defer payment of course fees.
    • The training provider receives the VET FEE HELP payment from the government.
    • As long as the student is enrolled beyond the census date, the training provider is paid.
    • Even if the course is never started, the provider will receive funds from the government and the student is liable for the debt.



One size does not fit all

The case for a new university type

Republished 16 December 2015


Many of our universities are teaching focused rather than research focused.  Why is this a bad thing?  The Lisbon Council, which rated the Australian system highly, considered that while world-class research is an important aspect that allows some universities to turn out first-class students, for the system as a whole the educational mission is paramount.

The national protocols that govern our system ought to reflect the reality, that we have a continuum of university institutional types from research-intensive to teaching-intensive.It is past time we addressed the fiction that all universities are research-intensive and that all academics need to be research-active to be good teachers.

Across Australia there are multi-campus universities that cannot maintain the research activity on all campuses that is supposed to sustain the nexus. Many universities have recognised that good teaching is informed by scholarship by creating teaching-only positions that emphasise scholarship, being currency of knowledge and understanding, over the ideal of research as pure, original discovery.







The importance of universities to Australia’s prosperity

28 November 2015


 Universities Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to analyse the contribution that universities make to Australia’s economic and social prosperity. This work was undertaken to inform the development of Universities Australia’s Keep it Clever—Policy Statement 2016.  The report seeks to present a comprehensive and coherent framework of benefits generated by universities. This includes examination of the conceptual role of universities in Australian society and how they contribute to the success of the nation, as well as a more detailed analysis of the benefits directly attributable to universities. The scope of the analysis does not include a detailed examination of the economic activity generated by university operations, but rather examines the contribution made to the productive capacity of the economy through universities’ teaching and learning, research discovery and adoption, and community service activities.



As institutions, universities embody social, economic and intellectual resources which combine to generate benefits on a local, national and global scale. They equip students with the knowledge and skills that allow them to make greater contributions to society; they generate and disseminate knowledge which enhances productivity and improves living standards; and they provide a myriad of broader community benefits.

This report canvasses and examines the various ways in which universities contribute to our economic and social prosperity and how, given the economic imperatives confronting Australia, the sector’s role is likely to evolve and grow over time.







Chakara at 179 Acland St, St Kilda, and 387 Hampton St, Hampton has an extensive range of quality and unusual gift items. You can order online through Chakra’s Facebook page.





How teaching funds research in Australian universities

16 December 2015


A report by the Grattan Institute report finds that universities earn up to $3.2 billion more from students than they spend on teaching, and have powerful incentives to spend the extra money on research. International students, who usually generate more revenue per student than domestic students, contribute a substantial proportion of this surplus. The report’s author, Andrew Norton, says the finding is concerning because, while university research matters to Australia, the evidence that it improves teaching is less clear. He observes that direct spending on teaching, by contrast, is far more likely to ensure that universities offer the high-quality courses students want. In this commentary in The Conversation, Norton observes that the priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money. He proposes that any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.




Life & stuff


Christmas 2015






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Reforming vocational education: it’s time to end the exploitation of vulnerable people

The case for REAL reform

Republished 16 December 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………Mary Leahy

It’s hard to argue with the proposition that Australia’s vocational education sector is a mess.  Mary Leahy (University of Melbourne) writes that tightening regulation and tweaking some of the settings will contain the damage, but these measures alone will not address deeper problems in the sector.   Real, sustained improvement requires rethinking the funding and regulatory models but also the purpose and idea of vocational education.



VET Reform

How the business model works

There is clear evidence of rorting and rent-seeking in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

The behaviour of some training providers, agents and brokers is nothing short of despicable. Thousands of students are being signed up to courses that they have little or no chance of completing.

The business model is fairly simple:

  • Register as a training provider and ensure your students have access to VET FEE HELP income-contingent loans.
  • Sign up as many students as possible for single or double diplomas.
  • The student takes on a VET FEE HELP loan to defer payment of course fees.
  • The training provider receives the VET FEE HELP payment from the government.
  • As long as the student is enrolled beyond the census date, the training provider is paid.
  • Even if the course is never started, the provider will receive funds from the government and the student is liable for the debt.

Chasing the dollar

This has given reprehensible providers a stream of revenue without the expense or trouble of providing much in the way of education.

Fees have grown, with a number of providers charging over $10,000 for a diploma.

The figures are staggering. A total of $2.4 billion in VET-FEE HELP was paid to training providers in 2015 (up to November 15), a big increase from $1.7 billion in 2014.

Yet graduation rates for many providers were abysmal, well under 10%.

Other providers do graduate their students, pushing them through qualifications in improbably short times. The approach has been described as “tick and flick”.

In Victoria alone, around 9,500 qualifications were revoked in one year.

The suggestion that payment should be shifted from when a student starts a course to when they complete it will not prevent the rorting, although it may force some providers to at least go through the motions of offering an educational program.

This outcome was predicted

Some shake their heads and say that no one could have foreseen what has happened. But it was predicted.

Prominent academic Leesa Wheelahan consistently argued that the reforms would result in a race to the bottom. Others expressed similar views in the media and within the sector.

The TAFE institutes have been hit hard, with a significant reduction in market share. Conditions are also difficult for any private operators with a genuine commitment to vocational education when competitors offer quicker, easier qualifications.

How have governments responded?

Governments have taken some action. Training providers are no longer permitted to provide incentives such as laptops and iPads, although there is evidence the practice has continued.

Providers will no longer receive up-front payment for the whole course. Funding for the loans has been frozen.

The Department of Education and Training is preparing to receive loan applications rather than leaving the training providers to process these.

These initiatives are to be applauded.

Key government reviews into funding, quality and the private training providers have also been undertaken. The extent of their impact on government policy is still emerging.

Alternative options being considered

Other options are being debated across the sector. These include risk-based approaches to regulation of providers and/or qualifications.

It has been suggested that students should be charged a minimum fee so they have “skin in the game”.

Questions are being asked about the wisdom of allowing the same organisation to train, assess and issue a qualification.

There is interest in finding reliable ways of distinguishing between providers that seek to deliver high-quality education and training, from operations seeking to milk public funding.

There is also renewed interest in the practice of teaching, which has been marginalised over the past 30 years.

Significant profits have been extracted but scrutiny from various regulatory bodies and the media has had an impact.

A number of large training businesses are in serious trouble. The Vocation group has folded and Australian Careers Network’s shares have been suspended since October. More will follow.

How did we get here?

The current situation has been built by layers of reform intended to create a vibrant, responsive sector that provided greater choice and flexibility for students.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreements in 2009 and 2012 led to the implementation of demand-driven training systems across Australia.

The idea was to give students greater choice and make providers more responsive to students and employers.

Victoria was the first state to implement the reform. Rapid growth in subsidised training rather predictably led to a massive budget blowout.

The government’s commitment to the market model was ironclad, leaving adjustment to the subsidy or funding rates as its only response.

A dramatic cut in May 2012 was followed by other significant reductions. Other states followed, introducing variations of the Victorian model, all hoping to avoid the pitfalls.

The lack of certainty encouraged providers to game the system and direct students into the courses that attracted higher levels of subsidy. In some cases this was a matter of survival. This problem was compounded once access to VET FEE HELP was expanded.

Longer-term shifts in the sector have also impacted the quality of vocational education.

The marginalisation of teaching, which is starting to be reversed, is one factor. Another is a form of outcomes-based education that does not recognise development and growth and is stripped of the knowledge we need for employment and citizenship. This raises fundamental questions about the purpose and function of vocational education.

Key issues

One of the problems with a market in education is that only after the course has been completed can the quality of education and training be assessed.

Another issue is that the vocational education market is based on flawed assumptions about the way we form preferences and make decisions.

There is a body of research that demonstrates that we do not operate as rational economic agents. We are all influenced by the way options are framed. Our preferences are not fixed. Our assessment of risk is shaped by our circumstances, particularly the opportunities available to us and the timing of any rewards and costs.

These findings challenge the assumptions underpinning user-choice policies.

Choosing a VET course is complex. There are five levels of qualifications, thousands of providers and specific rules about entitlement to government subsidy and VET FEE HELP loans.

A number of research projects are examining young people’s choices about study and work. It is apparent that the difficult circumstances some face limit the meaningful opportunities available to them.

The behaviour of providers and agents that exploit the hopes of people seeking to improve their prospects should continue to be exposed and condemned. But we also need to examine fundamentally flawed funding and regulatory models that allow and reward the exploitation.

Looking forward

Measures to control VET-FEE HELP will rein in the worst excesses.

Some operators will leave the sector. Others are reviewing their policies and practices. Hopefully governments will act on recommendations such as those produced by the Victorian VET Funding Review.

However, considerable risks remain when there is pressure to extract a profit and limited opportunities to cut costs without compromising the quality of provision.

This is compounded when students are unable to judge the value of their course until it is too late.

Politicians, policymakers and commentators need to ask whether the market can deliver what was promised by reforms in this sector and by the recently adopted competition policy.

We also need to reconsider the type of vocational education developed and delivered in Australia.

Some researchers argue for a more coherent approach to vocational development. Qualifications will be organised within broad vocational streams such as engineering or care work. Social partners will play a role in identifying the capabilities that will underpin qualifications. Courses will be designed to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes a person needs to work in their vocational stream.

In this way people will be prepared for a career, not just for a job that may be transformed or disappear. The approach is designed to build trust in the quality and relevance of qualifications.

A system that demands robust vocational education will not be attractive to those focused on extracting excessive profits.

Wasting public funds is a serious matter, but more troubling is the trashing of the vocational education system and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

The Conversation

Mary Leahy, Academic, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Anatomy of a scandal

How did the Australian VET system get here?

LH Martin Institute    |     8 December 2015


Jim Davidson, a former senior official of both the Victorian and Commonwealth governments and now a Senior Honorary Fellow of the LH JimMartin Institute, dissects the  crisis now enveloping the VET sector.  As he asks: How  could this have happened?  Good question. He says future policy responses by government need to deal with the root causes of the current growth in VET FEE-HELP and not further exacerbate the issues caused by the current policy settings.  And he proposes that an immediate measure should be  a moratorium on VET FEE-HELP loans for online course delivery and an enquiry to formulate appropriate requirements and costings for online delivery of nationally accredited qualifications including a benchmark completion rate.  It’s a bit of a no-brainer: ALL the providers under investigation and/or being prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have one thing in common: online delivery.


skills (1)


In 2009, the Commonwealth developed a National Partnership Agreement for Voational Education and Training (VET) that proposed the introduction of competitive funding arrangements into training.

This agreement did not proceed because of State reluctance and ACTU pressure not to extend the recent reforms by the Brumby Government in Victorian VET into the other States. The exposure of TAFEs to competition, notably from community, private and employer-operated registered training organisations (RTOs) was strongly resisted.

As a result the competition proposals only proceeded in Victoria, which was designated as a ‘reform State’ in the associated legislation. Victoria both contributed to the loan cost for VET FEE-HELP and grew its total quantum of VET funding to meet the demand for training.

In 2012 a new National Agreement on Skills Reform was finalised, and it emphasised three things: a new national entitlement to government subsidised training to the Certificate III level, competition in training provision and expansion of the VET FEE-HELP Scheme.

It sought to improve accessibility and equity in training by:

Improving the accessibility of higher level qualifications and working with the Commonwealth to enhance a quality framework including state and Commonwealth quality requirements for RTOs to access income contingent loans ‘.
The Commonwealth agreed to remove the credit transfer requirements that had been part of the original legislation. VET FEE-HELP was extended to support government-subsidised training and the 20% loan fee was removed in state subsidised courses, but not in full fee and privately funded training. The result has been the national training system that we see today, including the rapid growth in VET FEE-HELP.

Governments have been the architects of the current VET FEE-HELP growth through policy settings that have enabled States and Territories to:

1. Cost shift to the Commonwealth, for example Queensland no longer funds higher level qualifications, and to students through and loans to students through VFH for Diplomas.

2. Gain the benefits and funding offered by the Commonwealth while not meeting their competition commitments, and effectively reduce their overall financial investment in training (Noonan et al., 2014).

3. Allow some TAFEs to be exponents of on-line training, targeted at management and commerce studies, with completion rates in some cases less than10%. 10 of the top 15 online training course providers are State–owned TAFEs, the largest NSW TAFE. (ACIL Allen Consulting, October 2015)

VET FEE-HELP (VFH) enrolments by provider (2013)

(ACIL Allen Consulting, October 2015)

Distribution of enrolments by mode of delivery – top 15 VET FEE-HELP providers and all others (2013)

(ACIL Allen Consulting, October 2015)

The Commonwealth has failed to properly monitor and control the growth in VFH which has consequentially seen the:
1. Emergence of brokers offering inducements and receiving payment for no training delivery,
2. The growth of 5 large privately owned online deliverers,
3. Escalation in prices of Diploma qualifications,
4. Elimination of any upfront payment by students to moderate demand,
5. The exorbitant growth in management and commerce studies and
6. The disastrous completion rate (7%) in online courses.

Future policy responses by government need to deal with the root causes of the current growth in VET FEE-HELP and not further exacerbate the issues caused by the current policy settings. They also rely on effective monitoring of rates of growth, funding estimation processes and investigation of emerging trends.

In the short term, the Commonwealth Government must:

1. Place a moratorium on VET FEE-HELP loans for online course delivery and establish an enquiry to formulate appropriate requirements and costings for online delivery of nationally accredited qualifications including a benchmark completion rate.

2. Take administrative action or amend the Higher Education Support Act HESA if necessary, to prohibit the use of Commonwealth Loan funds to students being used by approved RTOs to reimburse agents for the recruitment of students.

3. Require RTOs undertake their own marketing activities which ensures the RTO is subject to the ASQA regulatory standards and oversight.

4. Introduce a modest co-payment for all students accessing VET FEE-HELP in the form of an application fee that must be paid by the student prior to commencement. This would be more effective than the proposed two day cooling off period.

5. Require RTOs with Diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications seeking support through VET FEE-HELP alone, or jointly with State subsidised purchasing, to have their courses individually accredited by a recognised Course Accreditation body, including where the qualification exists in a Training Package.

In the medium term, the discussions re new Federation arrangements for VET can then focus on:


  • The retention of ownership of TAFE Institutes by the States and the ACT, (unless a State or the ACT decided to sell off individual TAFEs or the TAFE system as an entity).
  • States disentangling ownership responsibilities from purchasing decisions.

Registration of RTOs

  • Victoria and Western Australia to refer the registration authority to the Commonwealth to ensure a single national regulatory framework for all RTOs.


  • The purchasing and/or funding of Certificate I to IV training courses to be as the sole responsibility of State and Territory Governments.
  • Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses purchased or funded by States and Territories to be subject to State based purchasing priorities and requirements.


  • Victoria and Western Australia to retain their course accreditation powers and bodies to ensure alternative course accreditation mechanisms to ASQA are available, as in the UK, Canada and the United States.
  • States consider the reintroduction of course accreditation requirements for qualifications seeking subsidized purchasing, including when the qualification is provided for in a Training Package.


ACIL Allen Consulting, 2015, Australia’s Skills Reform Journey: The Case for VET Reform and Progress To-Date. Available from:

P. Noonan, G. Burke, A. Wade and S. Pilcher, 2014, Expenditure on Education and Training in Australia, Mitchell Institute. Available from:


ACPET National Monday Update 27 July 2015


In Focus

CEO Update 

COAG appears to be in the early stages of conversations about a Commonwealth ‘take over’ of the system. This is no doubt timely as the current approach, with different arrangements, settings and priorities in each jurisdiction fails the common sense test.

The current arrangements are fragmented, confusing and lack any sense of national direction and I look forward to the policy discussion (if I can find it) to take a new approach forward.  This of course won’t happen quickly.

We therefore can not sit by and wait for others. There is much we can do now to protect the integrity of our qualifications. Quality remains the single most important focus for all of those genuinely involved in Tertiary education. My discussions with our TAFE colleagues tell me we are all concerned about the same issues for the future.

Quality and Ethics is what will set the ACPET membership apart from the rest. We have no intention of trying to represent  all private providers, we want to represent the best. With the launch of the revised Code of Ethics and the new Code of Practice, the message is clear to all members that the codes are not about regulation and compliance, they are about members aspiring to be the best educators in the industry. The gap between minimum regulatory standards that all RTOs must abide by and the aspirational approach the Code of Ethics sets, is the way we can collectively ensure student education and welfare is at the heart of our core activities.

To support this, ACPET has been working on the development of a quality strategic blueprint ‘Growing a Quality Membership’. I am pleased to inform you that much has been achieved in a short period of time. The ACPET website now hosts a quality and ethics section that outlines the role of the Quality and Ethics Committee, the quality support and services that ACPET provides members, a quality manual that will be an ongoing development project, and much more information that can assist you with the running of your RTO. If you see something is missing, let us know and we will quickly adjust…. Read more


2016 ACPET Catalogue – Register now

The ACPET Catalogue is available to members only to promote their organisation. With over 4000 view per month, it is an is an engaging way for prospective students, teachers, careers advisors and parents to select a quality training, education or a higher education provider. As an ACPET member, yo… Read more

ACPET 2015 Conference 

Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) is hosting a National Conference and Asia Pacific International Education Forum (APIEF) from the 26-28 August at Albert Park, Melbourne. Hosting the most impressive speakers from the domestic and global education sector, ACPET’s 2… Read more

More updates in your state

The Scan in June 2015

30 June  2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………Top Ten

In June The Scan posted 48 items but only one edition (#171) – we’ve been a bit busy with other things, The Scan being a pro bono sort of thing that doesn’t actually put bread on the table.  Speaking of bread, the level of remuneration enjoyed by vice-chancellors was a run away winner in clicks: across the sector, it turns out our vice-chancellors are paid very well indeed by international standards .  Academic gongs, recording honours awarded to tertiary people, rated highly.  It’s a curious thing that nobody at all from the VET sector, who we could identify, scored a gong for services to education and training – not a single one.   It can’t be because VET people are undeserving of recognition,  so it must come down to a lack of nominations: you got to be in it to win it and there are links in the post as to how nominate someone.  Same goes for the continuing under representation of women.  Issues relating to the quality of VET provision features heavily in The Scan’s coverage and in readers’ interests: five of the Top Ten reads in June fall into this category.   Of particular interest to readers – and it’s still rating well – was ASQA chief commissioner Chris Robinson’s presentation, to an ACPET forum, on the agency’s regulatory activity since its establishment in 2011.    The Scan’s Life & stuff section looks at some aspect of the world around us not directly connected to the tertiary sector, usually something a bit quirky or offbeat.  None of these posts ever make the Top Ten but our post about the challenges of budget airline travel – Feckin’ cheap flights, a performance by musical comedy trio Fascinating Aida –  came very close: it not only rings true, it’s very funny.  It comes complete with sub-titles so’s you can sing along.


Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase10 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 by The Australian of annual reports 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.….[ MORE ]….

ASQA by the numbers

11 June 2015    |    At a recent ACPET forum (9 June), ASQA chief commissioner Chris Robinson provided details of the agency’s regulatory activities Regulatory frameworksince it commenced operations in July 2011.  ASQA now covers the activities 3898 Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), 85.2 % of all RTOs.   Some 357 RTOs (7.8% ) remain under the jurisdiction of the   Victorian Regulation and Qualifications Authority (the Victorian government is considering options to transfer regulatory responsibility to ASQA, although the numbers covered by the VRQA have declined from 583 in 2011 to 357 at the end of 2014) and 318 RTOs (7%) remain with the WA Training Accreditation Council.  According to Robinson,  to the end of 2014, ASQA had approved about 600 new RTOs but the overall number of RTOs in its jurisdiction had declined by about 400, meaning that, for one reason or another, 1000 existing  RTOs in 2011 had folded by 2014 (this is not actually shown in his presentation).  This includes 83 RTOs whose registration ASQA cancelled and 134 RTOs whose re-registration was refused.….[ MORE ]….

Time to remake VET funding arrangements – ACPET

dollar key15 June 2015    |    At a recent Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET) forum, assistant education and training minister Simon Birmingham mused that it’s perhaps time to rationalise VET funding arrangements in Australia, which he placed in the context of the current review of Federation arrangements.   ACPET has come out, tentatively, in support of such a review, with chief executive Rod Camm saying  we need to “…admit that our national approach is seriously breaking down…. what are we looking for? Do we want a national approach or the current localised model ?”.   It is more than time to not merely review but to remake “national” arrangements, as argued in this extract from a submission made by the LH Martin Institute to a House of Representatives inquiry….[ MORE ]…..

“Sloppy practices” on international students


11 June 2015     |    Sloppy student services and false attendance reporting are systemic problems plaguing overseas students at private education providers, the national Overseas Students Ombudsman has revealed.  The Ombudsman released a new issues paper on poor compliance in the private education sector, based on 448 investigations into student complaints since the body’s establishment in 2011. It warned some providers were failing to intervene with at-risk students, allowing weak students to continue to study and fail.  Student absences were also being miscalculated. Providers were marking students absent when they were merely late, or on days when it was a public holiday and there were no classes scheduled.….[ MORE ]……

Academic gongs – Queen’s Birthday 2015

8 June 2015     |     Over 700 people from across the broad spectrum of Australian society are recognised on the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List Member in the Order of Australiafor services to the nation or to humanity at large.  There were 170 women and 349 men appointed to the Order of Australia while a further 198 Australians were recognised through military and meritorious awards. 635 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 received 65 awards, particularly in the upper categories.  These include 5 out of the 8 Companion awards (62%), 18 out of 44 Officer awards (31%) and 32 of 138 Member awards (23%), for about 33% of the higher awards – which is about on par with recent years.  In the most common category of Medal, only 6 of 404 awards were tertiary sector related people (1.5%) – about half the recent norm.  Women continue to be under represented with 33% of all awards, mainly in the Medal category – which is about the same as in the Australia Day List.   Of the awards to people associated with the tertiary sector, we couldn’t identify any distinctively “VET people….[ MORE ]…..

Vocation hunkers down

Vocation snip1 June 2015     Embattled education group Vocation will slash the number of courses it offers by almost half and rebadge most of its remaining businesses in a two-year turnaround plan.   New chief executive Stewart Cummins says will have the company making a profit again in 2015-16.   But it still faces further uncertainty over a number of regulatory audits in progress as authorities scrutinise the quality of courses and possible class actions.   Cummins said Vocation has already been through its lowest point and now faces a long and painstaking phase of rebuilding credibility among investors.….[ MORE ]….

Dodgy training provider fined $160,000 over fake job adsKeat2

7 May 2015    |     A dodgy Melbourne employment agency and unregistered training provider that advertised jobs that did not exist in order to lure potential employees into paying for training or internships with the company has been fined $166,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.  Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against the now collapsed entity Keat Enterprises in the court last week, after it investigated several complaints last year over Keat Enterprises’ “bait and switch” tactics….[ MORE ]….

Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salespeople 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.  But a current Careers Australia student and former sales broker have told ABC’s 7.30 that rapid growth is being achieved using dubious sales tactics….[ MORE ]…..

Over 300 000 students to rate Australia’s training system

7 June 2015    Australia’s major survey of students for rating the nation’s vocational education and training (VET) system is underway.   Around 310 ncver-logo000 students are being asked about their recent experience at a TAFE institute, private training provider, or adult and community education provider.  Managed by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the annual Student Outcomes Survey provides information on VET students’ employment outcomes and satisfaction with their training.….[ MORE ]….

SA government “de-marketises” VET funding

TAFE SA128 May 2015     |    The South Australian government has stepped back from “open market” VET funding to reintroduce a virtual monopoly for TAFE SA. Under its new WorkReady program, which will replace Skills for All in July, TAFE SA will provide 90% of new training places in 2015 -16.  Under the reforms, announced on 21 May, approximately 81,000 training places will be subsidised in 2015-16.  Of these places, 51,000 will be new and 30,000 will comprise students already undertaking courses. TAFE SA will provide 46,000 of the 51,000 new places.  Of the 30,000 continuing places, about 16,000 will be delivered by private providers.  The number of subsidised courses has also been cut from more than 900 to about 700.….[ MORE ]….

TDA Newsletter 29 June 2015

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Withdrawal fees banned for courses

Fees imposed on students wishing to withdraw from courses will be banned, under changes announced by the Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham.

“From 1 July 2015, if a student wants to withdraw from training on or before the census date, a provider will no longer be able to charge a withdrawal fee or place some other administrative barrier in the way of the student,” he said.

It means a VET provider:

  • Must not have financial, administrative or other barriers that prevent a student from withdrawing from a VET unit of study on or before the census date;
  • Must ensure that where a student notifies the VET provider of withdrawal or cancellation the student will not remain enrolled from the date of notification;
  • Must not enrol the student in subsequent VET units of study without written instructions from the student and must let students select, initiate or request their own enrolment;
  • Must publish withdrawal procedures on the website and make them readily available;
  • Must not charge a student any fine, penalty or fee for withdrawal.

It comes at the same time as rules preventing training providers and their agents from marketing VET FEE-HELP supported training as ‘free’ or ‘Government-funded’.

Victoria launches crackdown on low quality training

The Victorian government is to launch a $9 million blitz on low-quality training providers after accepting all the recommendations of its quality review of the VET sector.

The Minister for Training and Skills, Steve Herbert, today released the recommendations of the external Review of Quality Assurance in Victoria’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) System.

The review was ordered earlier this year in response to a number of serious abuses of the training system.

The Minister said the implementation of the 19 recommendations will lead to tougher requirements for training providers delivering government-funding training, and improved quality of VET teacher qualifications. It includes:

  • Stricter entry requirements for the government-funded training system
  • A consumer awareness campaign with information to help students chose the right course and provider
  • Tighter restrictions on the approval of subcontracting, to where it is genuine, specialised and limited
  • Greater transparency of poor quality training, such as problem providers that had a contract terminated for serious compliance issues
  • A revamp of online tools for students, businesses and industry to get information and provide feedback

“While many providers are doing the right thing, the review has found there remain unscrupulous operators who flout regulatory and contract conditions,” the Minister said.

See more.

Special Jetstar prices for TDA National Conference in Hobart

Have you booked your flights to Hobart for the TDA National Conference yet?

Jetstar has specials from Sydney and Melbourne to Hobart available until July 1.

Visit for more information. Fares are available until July 1 from $59 one way from Sydney to Hobart or from $49 one way from Melbourne to Hobart.

Accommodation blocks are also selling quickly. To register for the conference or for more information please visit

White paper canvasses funding handover of VET

Perverse outcomes in the vocational education and training sector may be overcome by handing total responsibility to either the Commonwealth or the states and territories, according the Reform of the Federation Green Paper.

The paper raises three key options to reform the system, including total handover to either the Commonwealth or the states, a Commonwealth focus on areas of national skills shortage, and a new agreed framework for shared responsibility.

“Due to the formal and shared arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories, no one single level of government controls the distribution of VET funding, and there is little coordination between the two levels of government to ensure their funding policies are pushing in the same direction,” the paper says.

“Overlap and duplication by governments in the apprenticeship system also means that the system is costly and complex, and not enough students are completing their apprenticeships,” it says.

See the Reform of the Federation Green Paper.

Labor promises to guarantee TAFE funding

The federal opposition has promised that a Labor government would guarantee a portion of government vocational education funding to TAFE.

Announcing the pledge on National TAFE Day, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird said Labor would work with the states and territories to refine the contestability of VET funding “to get the balance right”.

“Labor understands that TAFE provides an important quality touchstone across the sector, making it vital to maintain and grow,” they said.

“In addition to the TAFE funding guarantee, Labor will work with Premiers and Chief Ministers on a comprehensive National Priority Plan which properly defines and supports TAFE and places it at the centre of our vocational education and training sector.”

New tool to match employers and apprentices

A new approach to better match apprentices with employers, aimed at raising completion rates has been unveiled by Group Training Australia (GTA).

Employing Apprentices, was funded by the federal Department of Education and Training, and aims to address some of the key issues in recruiting, managing and communicating with apprentices.

It is designed for group training organisations, Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers, Job Active Employment Service providers, careers advisers and VET in schools coordinators.

A team led by Professor Rod McDonald, Managing Director of Ithaca Group developed the site.

“It is important for employers to understand all that is involved in taking on an apprentice and determine whether they can engage with young people and provide the necessary learning environment,” he said.

See Employing Apprentices.

William Angliss announces travel rating system

Melbourne’s William Angliss Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding with Star Ratings Australia for the launch of an exclusive Travellers’ Rating.

Travellers’ Rating is a score out of ten and will sit alongside the independent Star Rating.

It is based on an aggregate of online consumer sentiment from hundreds of websites in 45 languages.

William Angliss Institute has developed the statistical model to show if a property has met or exceeded the expectations of past guests.

Diary Dates

24th National VET Research Conference

DATE: 6-8 July 2015
LOCATION: University of Western Sydney
DETAILS: More information.

Victorian TAFE Association
2015 State Conference – Leading Transformational Change

DATE: 16-17 July 2015
LOCATION: RACV Club, Melbourne
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

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.

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

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

TDA Newsletter 25 May 2015

TDA Logo snipped

Victoria to target training quality and international students – Minister Steve Herbert delivers Mick Young Oration

Minister Steve Herbert delivers the Mick Young Oration.

Victoria will shortly embark on a new risk-based approach to quality in the vocational education (VET) system, and will seek to position TAFEs as magnets for more international students.

Delivering the 2015 Mick Young Oration in Melbourne last Thursday, the Minister for Training and Skills, Steve Herbert, said he would soon be acting on the Deloitte review of quality assurance in the state’s training system.

“The Review analysed existing processes and procedures and will shortly be recommending a new, risk based, best practice framework,” the Minister said.

“We will not tolerate low quality training in this state”.

Mr Herbert also told guests at the Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence at Docklands that he wanted to see TAFEs as “go-to places for international students”.

“I think we need to strengthen TAFEs’ capacity to engage further in the international student market,” he said.

“The Mick Young Scholarships are about giving people a chance at education, the Minister said.

“I would like to thank the Young Family, the National Scholarships Trust and the TAFE Directors Association for their success in expanding them to so many people.

“The trust ensures all its scholarships are backed by industry, so students get training that leads to jobs, and businesses get the workers they need,” he said.

See the Minister’s media release.

TAFE claws back training share in South Australia

TAFE SA will provide the majority of the new subsidised training places under the South Australian government’s WorkReady plan to operate from July.

Under the reforms, announced by Higher Education and Skills Minister Gail Gago, approximately 81,000 training places will be subsidised in 2015-16.

While this is approximately the same number of places as in the previous year, the number of courses has been cut from more than 900 to about 700.

Of the 81,000 training places, 51,000 will be new and 30,000 will comprise students already undertaking courses.

TAFE SA will provide 46,000 of the 51,000 new places. Of the 30,000 continuing places, about 16,000 will be delivered by private providers.

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), called on the federal government to withdraw $65 million in federal training funds to the state over the decision to “effectively ignore private training providers”.

See the Minister’s media release.

See the list of subsidised training places.

Queensland to repeal laws for TAFE asset sell-off

The Queensland government has introduced a Bill to repeal the former government’s plan to sell TAFE assets and lease them out to third parties.

The Minister for Training and Skills, Yvette D’Ath last week introduced the Bill to repeal the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority Act 2014.

“QTAMA was created by those opposite to enable the sell-off of Queensland’s training assets to the highest bidder and removing access of TAFE to its own premises, its own equipment and leasing it out directly to the competitors of TAFE,” the Minister said.

“We opposed this act when it was introduced last year, and we made it very clear that we would repeal it as soon as the opportunity arose,” Ms D’Ath said.

See the Minister’s speech to the Parliament.

Australia’s ‘Skillaroos’ team announced

WorldSkills Australia has announced the names of the 25 Skillaroos that will represent Australia at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Brazil, 11-16 August.

The WorldSkills Competition will see 59 countries represented by 1,176 experts and over 1,200 competitors competing in 50 skill categories.

The Skillaroos will continue their training regimes over the coming months before they head to Brazil in August.

See the Skillaroos team.

TasTAFE enters agreement on new university campus

TasTAFE has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tasmanian government, Launceston City Council and the University of Tasmania (UTAS) as part of a plan for the university’s new Launceston campus.

Premier Will Hodgman said, if realised, the plan will allow for more course offerings, increased enrolments and a greater collaboration with TasTAFE.

As part of the MoU, the government will consider changing the requirements of the land where the university is situated at Newnham, to open it to development and investment.

“This will unlock the prime parcel of land to the potential for tens of millions in housing development, investment and a construction boom,” the Premier said.

The MoU is the result of collaboration between the government, UTAS, TasTAFE and the Launceston City Council, and will be financially supported through a $60 million Northern Cities Major Development initiative.

New executive team named at NCVER

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has announced a new executive team.

Ms Jodieann Dawe will be the National Manager of Research and Business Development, while Dr Mette Creaser will be National Manager of Statistics and Analytics.

Ms Dawe’s previous roles include CEO of Water Research Australia and Manager of Research Operations at Meat and Livestock Australia.

The Managing Director of NCVER Dr Craig Fowler said Dr Creaser was an internal appointment, having managed the National Surveys Branch since 2008. She came to NCVER from the Australian Bureau of Statistics where she held a variety of roles, including Director of Environment Statistics.

“She has a very strong technical ability and contributed to the development and implementation of many of NCVER’s advanced tools for producing complex summative statistics,” Dr Fowler said.

EduTECH, Brisbane, 2-3 June

Did you know that EduTECH is the only event that brings together the entire education and training sector from every state in Australia, plus New Zealand, Asia and internationally?

It is made up of one large central exhibition and eight different congresses as well as post-event masterclasses. That is why you should attend.

EduTECH will be at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, 2-3 June.

TDA is a proud supporting body of EduTECH, and invites you to come along for the VET Leaders Congress, specifically designed for leaders and managers from RTOs, institutes and continued learning organisations.

Click here for the VET brochure, or go to for further details.

Otherwise, visit the EduTECH exhibition for FREE. It features:

  • Free on floor seminars
  • Teachmeets
  • Makerspace Lounge – Meet Gary Stager & Super Awesome Sylvia
  • Free networking drinks
  • Chance to Win A Car!
  • Meet over 200+ exhibitors

Register here for the free expo or one of the congresses. You can also email at or call 02 8908 8555.

William Angliss apprentice wins UK scholarship

Apprentice Sam Smith with chef Ian Curley.

William Angliss Institute third year apprentice chef Sam Smith has won a scholarship for international work experience at Fergus Henderson’s St John Restaurant in London.

Sam was selected by Ian Curley, head chef at The European in Melbourne, and an ambassador for the scholarship program.

Finalists were interviewed and required to cook for a day with Ian at his iconic Spring Street kitchen.

Sam is currently completing his apprenticeship at the RACV Club restaurant.

The scholarship is provided by the William Angliss Institute Foundation which provides educational opportunities and financial assistance to support disadvantaged students in achieving their career ambitions.

Diary Dates

Global Concepts Symposium
Centre for Excellence & LH Martin Institute

DATE: 27 May 2015
LOCATION: Perth, Western Australia
DETAILS: More information coming soon.

National Congress & Expo

DATE: 2 & 3 June 2015
LOCATION: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Navigating the new world: New challenges = New Opportunities

DATE: 4 June 2015
LOCATION: Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, Sydney
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Western Sydney Careers Expo
DATE: 18-21 June 2015
LOCATION: Showground, Sydney Olympic Park
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

24th National VET Research Conference

DATE: 6-8 July 2015
LOCATION: University of Western Sydney
DETAILS: More information.

Victorian TAFE Association
2015 State Conference – Leading Transformational Change

DATE: 16-17 July 2015
LOCATION: RACV Club, Melbourne
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

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.

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.

ACPET National Monday Update 22 December 2014


In Focus

Another year – another reform, A message from the Chair – Edition 585, 22 Dec

I would like to comment on where our industry finds itself at the end of another year.

This wonderfully diverse sector that we work in continues to perform, making real differences to the lives of Australians and our international guests.

Despite this, the year has also produced many challenges. Media scrutiny of apparent unscrupulous operators has been a feature. We all know this is but a minor element of the sectors, not that some commentators have reported that.  A tremendous advantage about an education marketplace, or any market for that matter, is that they produce innovation and diversity. That is a true positive. Workplace training, on-line programs and even MOOCs themselves all have their origins in competition. Yes markets also can produce what could be perceived as perverse outcomes, which must be dealt with strongly by regulators. By way of example, the private sector is often damned for using IPads and the like as incentives to enrol. I read with interest this week an advertisement from TAFE encouraging me to enrol before Christmas for a chance to win an IPad or $5000! Interestingly I don’t recall reading any damning editorial about this.

The Australian Government is obviously very active in resetting the base of both higher education and VET. The Higher Education reforms, Free Trade Agreements are at the fore, together with proposed changes to Streamlined Visa Processing, Apprenticeships Support, Training Packages, Industry Skills Councils and the list goes on. No wonder we all feel a little fatigued…. Read more


A Smart and Skilled Christmas present Edition 585, 22 Dec

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has announced that the NSW government will invest an additional $57 million to provide training for at least 16,000 more students in 2015. ACPET congratulates the government on this decision. Funds will be allocated to increase small regional caps for entitleme… Read more

Save the Date – ACPET 2015 National Conference and APIEF – 26-28 August 2015 Edition 585, 22 Dec

Please mark your calendars now for The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) 2015 National Conference and Asia Pacific International Education Forum (APIEF) – Inspiring Ideas, Building a better private education and training sector through innovation, diversity and quality…. Read more

Synopsis of the Budget Edition 585, 22 Dec

Below is a précis of savings and expenditure measures relevant to the Education, Employment and Training world announced yesterday in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. In brief, the Support for Adult Apprentices payment has been wound up, with loans being offered through the Trade S… Read more

USI open for business Edition 585, 22 Dec

ACPET spreading the USI message … Unique Student Identifer (USI) requirements will come into force from 1st January 2015 and are required for every student undertaking nationally recognised training in 2015 and beyond. Some tools to assist you are available online: Webtiles for your website… Read more

New Australian Government higher education site launched Edition 585, 22 Dec

The Government has plans to make our higher education system even better, opening up more pathways, providing more support and offering students more choice. As such, a new Australian Government higher education website has been launched. For more information, refer…. Read more

Industry engagement in Training Package Development Discussion Paper Edition 585, 22 Dec

The Department of Industry (the Department) has developed a discussion paper to encourage feedback on contestable approaches to VET training packages. To assist the Department in compiling and analysing the views of all stakeholders, RTOs are encouraged to provide feedback via the Consultation Hub…. Read more

VET Reform – National Consultations Edition 585, 22 Dec

The Department of Industry, VET Reform Taskforce is undertaking a round of national face-to-face consultations in every capital city throughout January and February 2015. The consultations sessions will be chaired by a member of the Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board. To coincide with… Read more

More updates in your state

TDA Newsletter 3 November 2014

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TDA calls for inquiry into private college profit claims

TDA has called on Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne to order an urgent examination of marketing practices and information provided to students allocated VET FEE HELP loans for courses at some recently-listed and soon-to-be listed ASX training companies.

The CEO of TDA, Martin Riordan, said an inquiry was needed to get to the bottom of the extraordinary revenue and profitability claims that have been reported by several ASX listed companies now under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

“Recent financial data, released by several ASX-listed and soon-to-be listed education and training companies, boasts extraordinary profitability and sky-rocketing turnover. Profit projections and information to shareholders, including that contained in prospectuses, appears to be based almost exclusively on federal VET FEE HELP student loans,” he said.

It has been reported that VET FEE HELP turnover has snowballed from $25 million in 2009 to $1.3 billion this year. The Department of Education is responsible for both higher education and vocational education student loans.

“The data seems so amazing that closer scrutiny is important to establish transparency about how student loans have been issued, and whether there were breaches by private colleges offering VET FEE HELP loans.”

See the TDA media release.

See today’s AFR article, TAFEs push for probe into private providers’ ‘extraordinary claims’.

See today’s AFR Comment, Pyne risks drowning in a sea of shonky operators.

Training package discussion papers released

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has released two discussion papers which will form the basis of the federal government’s new approach to the design and implementation of training packages.

“This is the first time in almost 20 years that there’s been an honest assessment of whether training packages are delivering what students need to get a job, and what industry needs to enhance its productivity through access to the right skills,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The first paper, Review of Training Packages and Accredited Courses, seeks comments on whether training packages are meeting the needs of industry, employers, students and the economy.

The second, Industry Engagement in Training Package Development – Towards a Contestable Model,examines contestable approaches for the development and maintenance of training packages.

Training packages are currently developed by the 12 Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) under a contract with the Commonwealth, however this arrangement will cease from next June.

Submissions to Industry Engagement in Training Package Development – Towards a Contestable Modelwill close on 24 December, while submissions to the Review of Training Packages and Accredited Courses will close on 18 February 2015.

See the Discussion Papers.

Red tape repeal produces $83 million savings

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has outlined savings and cuts to red tape in the vocational education and training area in the government’s latest Spring Repeal Day.

“This reduction in red tape in the Industry portfolio alone will deliver an $83.5 million benefit to Australian industry through lower costs for paperwork and complying with red tape, giving the business community more time to focus on building Australia’s productivity,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Savings include:

  • Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) no longer being required to apply to the regulator to update registrations when changes to training packages are made, when the training outcome remains the same, saving $27.3 million;
  • Improved business support services delivered through the new Australian Apprentices Support Network, saving $10.5 million;
  • A new online record system for vocational education and training attainments and qualifications from 2015, saving $4.9 million;
  • High performing RTOs being invited to add new qualifications to their training scope without applying through the national training regulator, saving $3.3 million, and;
  • Removing the requirement that existing RTOs need a financial viability assessment when re-registering, saving $2.7 million.

See more.

$12 million investment for William Angliss Institute

William Angliss Institute students will have greater access to eLearning opportunities through a new next generation learning platform and IT system, as part of a $12 million injection announced by Victoria’s Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Nick Wakeling.

William Angliss Institute CEO Nicholas Hunt said the funding will make a major difference to outcomes for the students who will be able to access programs through a range of different technologies, and to the food, tourism, hospitality and events industries which rely on the expertise of our graduates.

The Minister made the announcement at William Angliss Institute’s Melbourne campus and participated in a live cooking demonstration and podcast to show the technology which will be developed further to allow students to participate in classes remotely.

William Angliss students Georgia Reaburn and Zac Seliniotakis join Minister Wakeling (centre) for a cookery and podcast demonstration with William Angliss professional cookery teacher Freddy Bosshard and program leader cookery Kimon Tsindos (far right).

TAFE Queensland wins international social development award

At the recent World Congress of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) held in Beijing, TAFE Queensland won the Gold Medal for social development activities.

Congratulations to TAFE Queensland, on this international award.

See the WFCP media release.

The WFCP closed its proceedings, and issued a Beijing Declaration.

The Beijing Declaration emphasises the importance of skills training for industry and the wider community, an emphasis on quality, and new focus on international partnerships.

TAFE NSW executive appointments

TAFE NSW Managing Director Pam Christie has announced the appointment of two new Executive Directors.

Philip Clarke has been appointed as Executive Director, TAFE Strategy and Finance, and Olga Popovic has been appointed as Executive Director, TAFE Transformation.

Philip held senior roles with responsibility for significant VET reforms in Queensland and Victoria, and most recently was General Manager of the National Skills Standards Council.

Olga began in the NSW public sector as an auditor, before joining the Department in 1998, more recently as Department Liaison Officer in the Office of the Minister for Education advising on VET/TAFE policy issues. Since returning to TAFE NSW, Olga has lead TAFE NSW’s business and governance reforms and been pivotal in driving the reform program for TAFE NSW.

Ms Christie also thanked Barry O’Loughlin for acting in the role of Executive Director TAFE Strategy and Finance over the past months.

Our congratulations to Phil Clarke and Olga Popovic on their appointments.

Future chefs use media for training message

​Students from the Western Australia’s Central Institute of Technology’s media course have utilised their communication skills to produce a video that promotes a career in hospitality to a new audience.

Training and Workforce Development Minister Kim Hames said the new career promotional video was a first for Western Australia.

It is a partnership between the Central Institute of Technology Advanced Diploma in Screen and Media students, and the FutureNow Hospitality Ambassador Program.

“This is the first time a video has been produced for the Hospitality Ambassador Program and it represents an important resource, allowing Ambassador Chefs to share their experiences and stories with students across the State,” Dr Hames said.

The FutureNow Hospitality Ambassador Program began in 2012 in response to skill shortages in the hospitality sector. There are now more than 3,000 students and 160 schools across WA participating.

See more.

Accountants can use TOEFL test for English-language proficiency

Australia’s three accounting bodies are now able to accept alternative English tests as a proof of language proficiency.

From November 1, international graduates and skilled migrants seeking a skills assessment from the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Public Accountants and CPA Australia can use their TOEFL scores.

This change puts the accounting profession’s migration assessment in line with the forthcoming Department of Immigration regulatory changes. The decision to use tests creates a streamlined pathway for international accounting graduates and skilled migrants to use their TOEFL scores for student and skilled visas, as well as professional accreditation.

The change allows employers seeking to address skill shortages to access accounting talent from new and diverse pools across 180 countries.

See more about the TOEFL test.

Diary Dates

Group Training Australia
2014 National Conference

DATE: 12-14 November 2014
LOCATION: Grand Chancellor Hotel, Hobart
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Government Skills Australia
2014 National Conference

DATE: 17-18 November 2014
LOCATION: Adelaide Oval
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

2014 B/HERT Awards
Business Higher Education Round Table

DATE: 20 November 2014
LOCATION: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Australian Training Awards
DATE: 21 November 2014
LOCATION: Adelaide convention Centre
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

National Congress & Expo

DATE: 2 & 3 June 2015
LOCATION: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

New VET regulatory standards signed off

23 October 2014


Ministers at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council on 26 September 2014 agreed to new regulatory Standards for training providers and regulators.  Industry minister Ian Macfarlane signed off on the new standards on 20 October.


VET Reform

The government says the new Standards represent another important step towards an effective risk-based regulatory system and introduce important changes that strengthen industry engagement, improve the quality of training and reduce the regulatory burden on training providers.

The new Standards also increase protections for students who want to undertake nationally recognised training and strengthen the requirements for the delivery of training and assessment qualifications – qualifications which underpin the overall quality of training delivered in the VET system.

The new Standards will come into effect from 1 January 2015 and transition arrangements will apply.

In implementing the new Standards, ASQA  is to develop and publish a users’ guide to the new Standards; undertake a series of information sessions across Australia, which will include detailed information on the new Standards; and publish information and guidance on the process of transitioning to the new Standards.

The following useful summary of key changes was prepared by Joe Newbery of Newbery Consulting and is reprinted with permission. 

 Standard 1.3.

RTOs will require all for items on its scope of registration to have sufficient trainers and assessors, student support services, learning materials and facilities. This may sound like an obvious requirement but the fact is that many RTOs have items on their scope where they do not actively maintain learning materials the course they may not be delivering those qualifications. This will require them to revisit their scope of registration and make a decision to remove items or appropriately resource them. It’s interesting that in standard 1.3 it does not specify the requirement for the RTO to have available assessment resources.

Standard 1.9.
This requires the RTO to have an established plan for the conduct of systematic validation of assessment that specifies who, what, where, when and how this will occur. Quite a detailed requirement.

Standard 1.10
Requires the RTO to validate training products (assessments) at least once every five years, with at least 50% of products validated within the first three years of each five year cycle.

Standard 1.11.
This requires the assessment validation conducted by the RTO to be undertaken by person who is not directly involved in the particular instance of delivery and assessment of the training product being validated. This is a sensible outcome. The draft standards specified a requirement for assessment validation to be undertaken by an external person which I certainly thought was over the top and would have just resulted in additional costs for RTOs and a loss of ownership of the assessment validation process. This requirement will however still present as a challenge for very small RTO’s.

Standard 1.14.
Trainers and assessors are required to have either the TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or a Diploma or higher level qualification in adult education. The second option certainly opens up many options for trainers and assessors to demonstrate their competency and removes the focus from the lower level TAE40110 which is great.

Standard 1.23.
Requires that from 1st January 2017 that trainers and assessors delivering training and assessment in TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment must hold one of the following qualifications:

a) TAE50111 Diploma of Vocational Education and Training
b) TAE50211 Diploma of Training Design and Development
c) A higher level qualification in adult education.

Standard 1.25.
This standard requires RTOs who are delivering skill sets or qualifications from the Training and Education Training Package, from 1st January 2016 to undertake independent validation of the conduct of assessment, assessment systems and assessment resources. This independent validation must be undertaken by person or organisation who is not employed or subcontracted by the RTO to provide training and assessment and has no other involvement or interest in the operations of the RTO. This appears to be a sensible requirement. I would think regulating the independence of the validator will be fairly difficult. The standard also does not provide a frequency for the occurrence of the validation. Is it an annual requirement or does it only need to occur once?

Standards 2.1 – 2.4.
These standards specify an enhanced compliance requirement for RTOs who are engaged in partnership arrangements where other organisations are delivering training and assessment on their behalf. I think this could have even gone further however it is an improvement on the previous standard which was grossly inadequate. If you are delivering under a partnership arrangement this is a must read.

Standard 3.3.
Requires an RTO to issue qualifications or statements of attainment to those students who have achieved the required outcomes within 30 days of the final assessment being completed. It does include the proviso that all fees owed to the RTO must be paid prior to certificates being issue.

Standard 4.1.
Specifies the minimum information requirements and disclosures that an RTO must now provide to prospective students prior to their enrolment. These requirements are all common sense and if you are applying accurate and ethical marketing prior to the new standards, there really is nothing new.

Standards 5.1 – 5.4.
These standards provide a significantly enhanced requirement for RTO’s to inform students prior to their commencement of their rights and obligations. This has always been a requirement however these new standards are much more specific and RTOs will need to actively review their pre-enrolment information to ensure they are covering off with every dot point.

Standards 6.1 – 6.5.
These standards provide new specific requirements for the handling of complaints and appeals. This includes a requirement for policy that addresses complaints and appeals in relation to third-party organisations who are providing services to the RTO. The policies must be publicly available and there is a specific requirement for the RTO to provide a mechanism for review by an independent party where complaints or appeals remain unresolved. The RTO must also resolve complaints or appeals within 60 days or inform the complainant or appellant in writing of the reasons why more than 60 calendar days is required.

Standard 7.3.
This standard increases the minimum amount of money that can be paid by student prior to their commencement to $1500. This if the RTO wants to collect more than this amount from the student prior to their commencement they must hold an unconditional financial guarantee or a membership of a Tuition Assurance Scheme. This is a fairly sensible outcome and certainly one that most small RTOs can work with.

Standard 8.3.
This standard specifies the requirement for an RTO to inform the regulator within 30 days of an agreement taking effect which involves training and assessment being delivered on behalf of the RTO. This is not really a new requirement but does put a time frame around the RTOs obligations to report the change in circumstances.

Standard 8.4.
This standard requires the RTO to provide the regulator with an annual declaration that confirms the RTO’s compliance with the standards. The declaration includes the RTO giving an undertaking that outcomes it has issued to students over the previous 12 months meet the requirements of the training package and comply with the RTO standards. It will be interesting to see the effect of this requirement. It may give pause to some providers who are conveniently turning a blind eye to poor quality in favour of increased revenue.

New Standards for registered training providers and regulators