VET regulation

Rebalancing VET in Victoria

Review proposes “a more managed,sustainable training system”

16 December 2015

skills (1)


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.



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.
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


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.


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.

Comment on regulatory failure (2): The Australian


The Oz6

The Oz7



The Oz3











Evocca faces class action

The Australian     |     29 October 2015


One of Australia’s largest private training providers, Evocca College, company is facing a class action from former students who claim they were duped into enrolling in its courses or enticed with offers such as free laptops and receiv­ed substandard training.


EvoccaFigures from the Department of Education and Training reveal Evocca had 27,907 students enrolled­ last year, of whom all but three were receiving government-funded VET Fee-Help loansIt received $250 million in funding yet only 1053 stud­ents completed its courses.

About 200 former students are now preparing to lodge a class actio­n against the company, determined to clear their VET debts that average about $20,000 each.

One of those, Sydney-based former student Joel Weisbord, was suffering from a major depressive episode in 2013, when he decided to enrol in Evocca’s online­ video-gaming diploma in an effort to turn his life around.

On his college pre-enrolment form he noted he had “special needs”, and that he suffered from dystocia, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, ADHD and learning difficulties.

He claims he was assured he would be given support to complete the course and that the cost would be subtracted from his tax payments when his income reached a certain threshold, so that he did not have to pay anything out of pocket.

“It was all a lie,” he said.

He said parts of the course appeared to be YouTube videos while some of the course material needed to complete the assessments was simply missing.

He said in April last year, he informed the college in writing that he wanted to withdraw from the course. But instead the college added another $6750 to his VET debt for the next unit of the course.

However, an Evocca spokesman said the company “completely rejected the allegations” and none of its courses had been alleged to be substandard.

Earlier this month, Evocca was one of 8 training providers whose continuing registration was made subject to strict conditions, following an ASQA audit of providers receiving VET FEE-HELP. Unique International had its registration cancelled and 8 others are still being investigated.

Conditions imposed

  • Access Group Training
  • Australian College of Training and Employment, EVOCCA College, Nuvocca, EMPACER
  • Careers Australia Education Institute, ACAE Aust College of Applied Education
  • Royal Gurkhas Institute of Technology Australia, Gurkhas Institute of Hospitality & Management
  • International Skills Institute
  • Australasian College Broadway
  • Smart City Vocational College
  • The Health Arts College


Registration cancelled

  • Unique International College
Targeted audits of VET FEE-HELP providers




ACPET National Monday Update Edition 627, 26 October 2015


In Focus

This week I find myself a bit at a loss of what are our key messages for the sector Edition 627, 26 Oct

One must try and remain positive and I remain very proud of the many private and public providers I know and respect for their genuine commitment to education. We still have a system that produces great results, though I acknowledge that gets little airplay at the moment.

I also remain committed to cleaning out ACPET’s membership, with the view to ensuring we do represent those Colleges that stand for ethics and quality in tertiary education.I acknowledge we are not there yet.

It has been pleasing to receive a surprising amount of support over the last few weeks, where ACPET has strongly stated its case that only those genuinely committed to quality education have a role in this proud sector.

I am very confident that the cream will rise to the top, it always does. I now often wonder how best to fasten that journey. We are still working across a range of areas that will make a difference, though time is of the essence.

We should not lament that all is ruined. Because it is not. The many providers delivering fee for service training, State and Territory funded qualifications and many offering VET FEE HELP (VFH) are continuing to deliver a quality product.

However, there are some issues across areas of  delivery. Let’s start with the VFH data:

  • Student loans have more than doubled to $1.74B in 2014
  • Since commencing in 2009, $3.1B has been funded
  • Student numbers increased by 103% to 202,800 from 2013 to 2014
  • Nearly half of students are under 25 and 66% are women
  • 44% of enrolments are in management and commerce
  • IT enrolments have increased by 560%, as the fees for IT increased by 85%
  • On-line students increased by 57% and now make up 47% of all enrolments
  • Completion rates remain at about 10% below that of sector average
  • On-line VFH completion sits at 7% completion rate compared to 23% for students funded outside of the program
  • The tuition fees for students increased by 29% in the last year, almost tripling since 2011, and
  • Agriculture and related course fees increased by 61% and mixed field by 64%.

I don’t really think I need to say anymore. You can see from the numbers that the sector does need to lift its game. VFH is a critically important program for Australia’s future. As the only real growing fund source, quality qualifications can fuel the skills, innovation and entrepreneurship needed in our future economy. It is that important.

Looking at the trends and the outcomes from the VFH investment, we must do better.

We are all citizens and have both a right, and responsibility to demand proper outcomes from any government investment. While the accounting treatment might be different, student loans, bankrolled by government, must produce results at least equivalent to elsewhere in the sector and put simply at the moment it is not.

Our collective voice is needed. I have discussed the problems with government, industry, public and private providers and industry, to name a few. Despite all having different angles, politics and desires, all unite in the belief both in the sector and of the many quality providers.

All also lament where we now are

Where to – now that is the question.

I look forward to continuing the discussions with many of you with a sense of urgency. As an industry we can show the way



ACPET 2016 National Conference in Hobart, TAS (24-26 August 2016) Edition 627, 26 Oct

Please mark your calendars now for The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) 2016 National Conference and Asia Pacific International Education Forum (APIEF). These important events which focus on the strategic and policy development levels of the industry will be held in Hob… Read more

Short film competition for students studying overseas Edition 627, 26 Oct

A short-film competition called Show and Tell launches today. It raises awareness of opportunities to study overseas by encouraging students to share their own stories. Students who are currently or have previously studied overseas can create a short 60-90 second video about their experience, uploa… Read more

NCVER Research Forum Edition 627, 26 Oct

When one door closes: VET’s role in re-skilling displaced workers When: Wednesday 18 November, 10am-4pm Where: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre The Australian economy is changing with significant job losses in traditional manufacturing and rapidly evolving technological adv… Read more

2015 Industry and Export Awards WA – Congratulations Engineering Institute of Technology Edition 627, 26 Oct

The Western Australian Industry and Export Awards is the State’s most prestigious business awards, acknowledging the hard work and enterprise of some of the State’s most innovative companies. The Awards have helped open doors for emerging and established exporters and provided well-earned r… Read more

More updates in your state

– See more at:

Phoenix crashes and burns

22 October 2015


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.



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.

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

tda_logo- large

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.

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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 15 June 2015

TDA Logo snipped

ASQA defends actions against private training colleges

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has rejected claims that it failed to take action against registered training organisations (RTOs) owned by Vocation Limited.

As reported last week, a recent Senate Estimates hearing focused on the actions that were taken by the regulator to address quality issues at Vocation subsidiaries.

In a statement, ASQA says that of the 12 higher education and training providers acquired by Vocation, 10 were totally or jointly under ASQA’s regulation.

Of that number, three voluntarily withdrew their registration, one withdrew its registration following an ASQA audit, two have been audited and found compliant, and four are the subject of ongoing investigations.

“Vocation-owned RTOs have been on ASQA’s radar since last year and all of its operating RTOs regulated by ASQA have been subject to extensive audit and regulatory scrutiny,” ASQA says.

See ASQA’s statement.

TAFE Queensland establishes $500,000 scholarship program

TAFE Queensland has launched Australia’s largest vocational education scholarship program with half a million dollars in industry–based scholarships to help students meet their career goals.

In collaboration with the TDA National Scholarships Foundation, TAFE Queensland will award 100 scholarships worth $5,000 each over the next three years.

TAFE Queensland CEO Jodi Schmidt said the landmark program will provide an opportunity for people from across Queensland to develop their skills and gain qualifications demanded by industry.

“We know the power vocational education has to change people’s lives and help them achieve extraordinary things.

“We are delighted to be working with the Foundation and look forward to providing many Queensland students with the recognition they deserve to succeed in their careers,” said Ms Schmidt.

Scholarships will be offered to current and prospective students to study TAFE Queensland qualifications from Certificate III to Advanced Diploma level.

Find out more.

New technology hub for South Western Sydney Institute

Luke Tornai, Matthew Huckstadt, Minister for Skills John Barilaro, and Sam Berry.

A new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art transport, engineering and technology centre is taking shape at the TAFE South Western Sydney Institute at Wetherill Park.

The Transport and Engineering Technology Centre will be the largest training facility of its kind in Sydney.

The NSW Minister for Skills John Barilaro said the facility will comprise a 21st century learning environment, changing from a traditional teacher-centric model to a modern learner-centric model.

The centre will open in 2016 and offer course options including light vehicle technology, heavy vehicle mechanical technology, plant mechanics, automotive electrical technology, speciality automotive courses and engineering technology courses.

Queensland training grants close this week

Queensland community organisations have until the end of this week to apply for funds under the $240 million ‘Skilling Queenslanders for Work’ (SQW) program.

The initiative is aimed at developing jobs and skills for groups including young people, mature-age jobseekers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability and those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

It includes six individual programs, four of which – Community Work Skills, Ready for Work, Get Set for Work and Youth Skills – will be delivered by community organisations. They cover a range of customised support, including nationally-recognised training, traineeships, paid work placements, career advice, job preparation skills and individual case management.

There are also two traineeship programs­ – First Start and Work Start incentives. Under First Start, up to $2.5 million will be available in 2015-16 to create 200 traineeships with councils across Queensland. Work Start will offer private sector employers a $2000 incentive if they employ a SQW participant as a trainee or apprentice.

Applications close Friday 19 June.

See more.

NCVER ‘No Frills’ reminder

A reminder about the 24th National Vocational Education and Training Research (NCVER) Conference ‘No Frills’, 6 – 8 July at the University of Western Sydney, Parramatta campus.

TDA is sponsoring the Welcome Reception. NCVER is co-hosting the conference with the University of Western Sydney and TAFE NSW’s Western Sydney and South Western Sydney Institutes.

There will be keynote addresses from Professor Peter Shergold AC, Chancellor, University of Western Sydney and Chair, NCVER, and Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation.

With over 50 presentations, the program features three key areas vital to developing the VET system and meeting future skills demand:

  • Youth: engaging, inspiring and supporting students to realise their potential
  • Pathways: transitioning through education and training into the workforce
  • Skills: working with industry and employers to improve education and training

Register here.

Introducing TDA’s new Corporate Affiliate member

TDA welcomes Global Learning Support (GLS) to its Corporate Affiliate program.

As all TDA members are aware, supporting our students to complete their studies is both our highest priority and one of the biggest challenges.

GLS works with leading education providers to support students in staying on track and completing their education.

They have created a unique environment for students, which facilitates, guides and encourages their progression and clears the pathway to completion.

GLS designed and developed its support system over a five-year period and is based on the understanding that students need and want quality support, ongoing motivation, discipline and accountability during their studies. Their services include dedicated study coaches who provide individualised support.

GLS is able to assist organisations increase revenue, achieve quicker course completions, and increase student satisfaction and retention, leading to lower dropout rates and reduced costs.

TDA members are encouraged to visit the GLS website for more information or to get in  They will also have a booth at the TDA national conference in Hobart in September.

Diary Dates

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 15 June 2015


In Focus

Another week slides by Edition 608, 15 Jun

Unemployment up in South Australia, skills down – go figure.

In South Australia those who are unemployed or long term unemployed have virtually no choice to find a pathway to the future. Prospective students who are looking for or need specialised support cannot shop around and look for the solution that suits them best.

Protectionist policies are ridiculed elsewhere in industry. In VET this approach will not produce the skills system our country really needs.

What is becoming apparent is that Australia needs to have a serious think about the direction of its skills policy. We have a system that is held in the highest regard internationally. It is held up for its National architecture and policy, its industry leadership and for its growing responsiveness.

Anyone involved in the sector must lament the genuine progress in the 1980s and 90s and now admit that our national approach is seriously breaking down, and much of this is a result of ideology.

There remains much to be proud of. We have a national (almost) regulator, an Australian Government showing leadership and making difficult decisions, and some new features that are still bedding down.

We also have some State Governments genuinely engaging with the sector with the view to reform. That is pleasing but in a modern economy, that is global in its reach the multiple approaches don’t make sense.

We have major reviews in Victoria, imminent policy announcements in Queensland for the next financial year (which is only days away) a much needed pending review in NSW, where the new Minister for Skills, the Hon John Barilaro has shown a willingness to engage.

These are all appropriate (the timing aside) and no one questions, certainly not ACPET, the need to assure better quality from providers and integrity in our qualifications. However, the issue is what are we looking for? Do we want a national approach or the current localised model?

There are many questions but it is an issue that needs urgent attention.
Jennifer Westcott of the BCA called for national reform some time ago. It is time for industry to again lead the debate, as that is the future to improving productivity and participation.

No doubt we can find our way, but it is needed fast.
Rod Camm




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