Victorian skills reform

The Scan’s year

Summer edition 2016

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Summer

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The Scan in 2015

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

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Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     |     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salespeople who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.     Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. Former sales broker Chris Chambers confirmed that sales brokers were taking the entrance exams for potential students, and claimed he saw it happen 40 to 50 times.

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NSW university offers 2015UAC

20 January 2015     |     As in Victoria, the traditional January main round of university offers in NSW, through the University Admissions Centre (UAC), is decreasing in prominence in the calendar. Offers through the year and direct offers are becoming increasingly the norm. This year, universities have made 46,507 offers through UAC ‘s main round, down 4,307 (- 9%) on last year.

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Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

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

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Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

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

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Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie15 February 2015    |      The new Victorian Labor government has announced a comprehensive, independent review of the funding of Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) system, as presaged during the election campaign.   Minister for training and skills Steve Herbert says the VET Funding Review will provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE Institutes and private training providers.  Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse.

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Higher education reforms referred back to Senate Committee

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

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Academic gongs Australia Day 2015

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

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Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

Deloitte2

29 June 2015       |       The Victorian Government is launching a major blitz to crackdown on “dodgy” training providers in order to lift standards in sector.   A review by Deloitte has revealed widespread abuses, including qualifications being issued to students who have no demonstrable skills, inappropriate marketing practices, short course duration, providers claiming government funding for non-existent training delivery and poor oversight of third parties delivering training.  Skills minister Steve Herbert said that since November 2014, the government has had to restore funding eligibility for more than 10,000 students who gained inadequate qualifications, and has found dubious practices in a range of qualification areas.

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Birmingham releases “synthesis report” on HE reform

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

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Labor’s TAFE agenda in QueenslandAnnastacia3

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

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The Zeitgeist 2015

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General relativity: How Einstein’s theory explains the universe, and more

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A century ago, in November 1915, physicist Albert Einstein unveiled a theory that would change the world — general relativity.  ABC science reporter Bernie Hobbs explains this mind bending theory – the development of which was driven by experiments that took place mostly in Einstein’s brain (that is, so-called “thought experiments”) .

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Einstein working at his desk

See
Research shows disorganised people are geniuses.
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What’s disrupting us

From Forbes Magazine

“The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle is offering a vision of autonomous driving in the future. The luxury saloon with total connectivity gives a preview of how the self-driving car of the future could become a platform for communication and interaction.”

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Best books1
As selected by the staff of Dymocks

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Best books2

“An emotionally-charged and often traumatic novel that is sure to shock you. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, the likes of which I have never before experienced from a book. It’s my must-read title of 2015.”

See
10 of the best books from 2015 to add to your summer reading pile

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Images

From The New York Times

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“This was the year of the great unravelling, with international orders and borders challenged or broken, with thousands of deaths, vast flows of migrants and terrorist attacks on some of the most cherished symbols of civilization, both Western and Muslim.”

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Refugees2

 A child standing near police controlling a rush of refugees into Macedonia.

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The year in music

From Spotify’s playlist

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Spotify

Listen1

See
Pandora’s playlist

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At the movies

From Vogue Magazine

“I’ve never seen a Cannes screening more hushed than it was during Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s story about a reluctant female assassin (ravishing Shu Qi) during the Tang Dynasty. Although the story is a bit puzzling and rarefied—Hou plunges us right into 9th-century China—the film is a triumph of pure cinema, staggeringly beautiful in its evocation of a distant time and sensibility. It has the mysterious radiance of a Vermeer.”

Assasin

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The year in cartoons

Pope

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Image is everything

6 April 2015

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

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Abbott & kid asleep

The kid couldn’t take it any longer.

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Noticeboard

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The VET Store

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

VET Development Centre
Click image to find out more!

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Chakra1Chakra

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.

Chakra6

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Caroline2

Contact-me-150x150

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Click to listen
Click to listen

Radio Double Karma on Pandora

Adult contemporary music

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

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

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

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The Scan in 2015

 26 December 2015

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

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

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NSW university offers 2015UAC

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

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Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

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

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Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

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

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Victorian VET Funding Review announced

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

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Higher education reforms referred back to Senate Committee

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

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Academic gongs Australia Day 2015

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

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Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

Deloitte2

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

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Birmingham releases “synthesis report” on HE reform

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

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Labor’s TAFE agenda in QueenslandAnnastacia3

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

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Image is everything

6 April 2015

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

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

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Rebalancing VET in Victoria

Review proposes “a more managed,sustainable training system”

16 December 2015

skills (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Vic VET review due

Major shake up of “open market” foreshadowed

The Australian      |     15 December 2015

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The Mackenzie review of Victoria’s VET funding is to be released tomorrow (16 December 2015), with more than 100 recommendations in what is certain to be a major shake-up of Victoria’s open training market.

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Bruce Mackenzie undertook Review with Neil Coulson
Bruce Mackenzie undertook Review with Neil Coulson

The Australian reports that the review will recommend private colleges be made to report their finances to the state’s ­Auditor-General, similar to public TAFEs and universities. It would be the first step towards creating a sector-wide classification system based on a college’s finances and capabilities.

The review, by former Holmesglen TAFE director Bruce Mackenzie and Victorian Skills Commissioner Neil Coulson, makes more than 100 recommendations in what would be a major shake-up of Victoria’s open market for training.

It also apparently proposes that students be charged a minimum fee to ensure students had “skin in the game” and prevent providers from offering free ­courses as an enticement just to pocket the state government course subsidy.

Skills minister Steve Herbert has warned that whatever the state does, it is critical the federal government do more to crack down on the exploitation of the VET-FEE-HELP loan system for diplomas.

He said underprepared students were being lured into ­expensive diploma courses with VET-FEE-HELP and then dropping out with big debts when they would be better off doing a state-funded certificate. The federal government should cap prices to stop colleges exploiting the loans in the same way that university fees are capped. He also wants the government to make VET-FEE-HELP providers more accountable for poor completion rates and poor job outcomes.

Since it was fully introduced in 2011 Victoria’s open market has led to budget blowouts and widespread reports of rorts as private providers rapidly expanded on the back of access to government subsidies. TAFE’s market share of subsidies has nearly halved since 2010 from 50 per cent to just 27 per cent while the market share of ­private colleges has jumped from 20 per cent to 60 per cent.

The Andrews government has initiated a regulatory crackdown, introduced tighter contract requirements and claimed back more than $60m in subsidies.

The review was undertaken by former Holmesglen TAFE director Bruce Mackenzie and now Victorian Skills Commissioner Neil Coulson, formerly the head of employer organisation VECCI,

Once was TAFE

8 December 2015

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There’s been a growing chorus of outrage over the looting of VET FEE-HELP by a handful of VET providers, coupled with disbelief that the government and regulatory agencies could have had such lax safeguards as to allow this to happen. It was all perfectly predictable. On 29 April 2012, The Scan published Once was TAFE, a commentary on the then Victorian government’s introduction of so-called “competitive neutrality” in the public funding of VET. It’s a piece that has stood the test of time. It does beggar belief that having been witness to the chaos that was occurring in the Victorian system courtesy of open access to funding and manifestly inadequate regulatory procedures, the Commonwealth could basically repeat the mistakes of Victoria in extending access to VET FEE-HELP – and then let it run unchecked for a couple of years. 

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The past couple of years have been like Christmas time for carpetbaggers in the Victorian VET sector. The “skills reform” initiated by the former Labor government opened up public funding of vocational educational and training provision to all comers.  And as to the field of dreams, the private RTOs have flocked.   At the end of September 2011, 721 providers were delivering government subsidised enrolments in Victoria, almost 80 more than at the same time in 2010 and 160 more than in 2008. The share of government subsidised enrolments by private providers increased from 14% in 2008 to 36% at the end of September 2011 and is now in excess of 50%.

TAFE qualsThese are sudden and dramatic shifts, which have resulted in the apparent destabilisation of a number of the public TAFE institutes.  In 2011, the combined surpluses of the 14 standalone TAFEs in Victoria, which fund really important things like infrastructure and facilities, halved, from$192m to $98m.  Analysis by sector specialist Gavin Moodie reveals that if you discount one-off capital items, the underlying operating results are pretty bleak, with only 4 of the 14 standalone TAFEs operating in the black.

Of the dual sector universities, at least Victoria University (VU) is struggling and probably Swinburne.  There have been successive waves of redundancies at VU and another wave looks imminent, with a major restructuring of the university just announced.  The TAFE activities, up to Cert IV, are being spun off into a technical college, which could well be the first step towards ultimate divestment.

In public policy terms, the character of an institution delivering a qualification – public or private, TAFE or university, state domiciled or interstate – doesn’t actually matter, so long as what it is providing represents value in terms of both cost and quality.

It could be argued that, setting aside the inevitable implementation issues that come with such a systemic shift, the evidence of the Victorian market-based reforms is that opening the publicly funded training sector up to a greater role for private providers has led to increased participation, improving the skills of the workforce and therefore productivity, and improved equity by increasing both the choice available to individuals and access.

That could be argued but you would need to cross your fingers behind your back (and definitely not cross your heart and hope to die) to argue it.

The stories of utter rorting are legion – like the private RTO that grew enrolments in education and training by 4000% in just a year or the private RTO that offered sporting organisations kickbacks to spruik their courses.

The Scan did its own random survey of private providers and it seems that the emerging industry standard is that you can secure a CERT III/IV with about 40 hours of work and diploma with 60-80 hours.  The nominal hours on your personal training plan will show 400-800 hours to comply with the AQF but wink, wink, nudge nudge etc.  And if you’re doing it online (as many of the offerings are), you needn’t even bother with that:  invite your friends around for a study session, provide beverages and comestibles, and you could knock it over in no time at all.

The end result is that any VET qualification in Victoria delivered outside the public TAFE system over the past couple of years has to be considered suspect (which is, of course, tough on the many reputable private RTOs).  The qualifications system has been debased.

So the Victorian Coalition government inherited a training mess.  And a budget problem:  state sourced expenditure on VET has gone from $800m in 2008 to possibly $1.5 billion this financial year – and growing.

The government obviously had to act, both to protect the integrity of the training system and to protect the public purse.

In October 2011, funding to support what might be broadly termed the community service obligations (CSO) of the biggest TAFEs was slashed by 25%, apprenticeship fees were increased and funding for the seven fastest growing areas of enrolment (including business studies, hospitality and fitness training) was reduced to rein in runaway growth (and dubious quality of provision) in the private sector.  The public TAFEs were reported to be “stunned” and “shocked .

Measures to be announced in the budget on 1 May, “pre-announced” in The Australian on 28 April, have elevated the attitude of TAFE stakeholders to apoplectic.  By one of those quirks of fate, the Australian Education Union was holding its annual TAFE conference in Melbourne on 28/29 April and it was the topic du jour (check the traffic #TAFE on Twitter).

In effect, the government is introducing “competitive neutrality” into the training market.  None of this nonsense about funding TAFEs to meet any sort of CSO: an additional base funding allowance of up to 22%, designed to help them provide a full range of training services, is to be removed.  Funding rates are to be slashed from between $6.50 and $8.00 to less than $2.00 an hour per student, in business, hospitality, retail, customer contact, process manufacturing, events, fitness and sport.

On the upside, high-demand courses in high-cost areas such as roof tiling, aeroskills and mechanical trades will attract between $11.00 and $12.50 an hour.  This obviously favours TAFE because, at the moment, such training is dominated by TAFE but under the new “competitively neutral” funding arrangements that may change (and quickly, too).

We really need to await the full budget detail to draw final conclusions: the government has got the bad news out of the way so will there be any measures to soften the apparent blow to TAFE – for example, something to support the already wobbly regional TAFEs?  Peter Hall, the skills minister, is a National Party member based in Gippsland, so you would think he might be uncomfortable leaving regional TAFEs to simply swing in the breeze (he certainly has been in the past – Drop in TAFE enrolments concerning).

But the feeling among TAFE stakeholders is one of despondency, unremitting gloom and doom.  As one authoritative commentator put it to The Scan, TAFE in Victoria is “rooted”, or words to that effect.  Another stakeholder observed that the “mad Victorians”, having stuffed up the international sector, are now doing the same to the domestic market.

We’ll see.  Publicly provided TAFE will survive, for the time being at least, but it is hardly likely to prosper.  You can see a path where many of the TAFEs become residualised, with underutilised assets and need “special assistance” to cover declining revenues.  This runs counter, of course, to the logic of “marketisation” as it has finally emerged in Victoria and so you end up at privatisation.

And you ask the question “why”?  Certainly the disorderly and disruptive process of skills reform in Victoria doesn’t seem to have served any public good: it’s blown the budget and debased the qualifications system.  And it’s degraded what was once such an important public asset and contributor to the public good: Victoria’s public TAFE system.

See
Victorian skills reform archive

Vic TAFE enrolments hit 5 year low

Fairfax Media     |    28 October 2015

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The latest Victorian training market half year report shows a marked decline in government subsided training, with 12% fewer enrolments in 2015 compared to the same time in 2014. TAFE enrolments were at their lowest point in five years.

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The report attributes the decline as likely due to a decline in foundation studies by 42% to 29,731 enrolments and a decline in traineeships by 34% to 20,258 enrolments.

VET student enrolments

Private training providers now capture 59% of government-subsidised enrolments, up from 21% in 2010.
This compares with a 27% share for TAFEs, down from 49% in 2010 and an 8% share  for university VET providers, down from 20%.

VET enrolments %age share

VET enrolments by sector %age change

There was a 13% drop in unemployed students enrolled in government-subsidised training, and a 14 % drop in 15 to 19-year-olds who had dropped out of school and enrolled in a certificate 2 training or above.

Victorian TAFE Association Executive Director Andrew Williamson said people had lost confidence in vocational education and training due to the actions of a few dodgy providers.  He said the figures were “not rosy” and reflected a national trend of declining vocational education and training enrolments.  He applauded the state government for launching a $9 million quality blitz on training providers, and throwing their support behind TAFEs.

The Andrews government has established a $320 million TAFE rescue fund and has appointed former Holmesglen head Bruce McKenzie to review the funding of the state’s vocational education and training system, which is due to report shortly.

The Scan # 173 22 July 2015

VET matters

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News

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Vic international strategy directions 

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

Qld boosts training and TAFE funding

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

Vic VET issues paper releasedSave our TAFE

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

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Milestones

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Warren Tapp to head new TAFE group

17 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Comment & analysis

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Improving equity through VET FEE-HELP

21 July 2015

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

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Go8 Equity scales

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

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Realigning the VET system

21 July 2015

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

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

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In defence of good research wherever it is found

21 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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A snapshot of the Victorian VET sector

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Life & stuff

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21 July 2015

The bloody ABC’s done it again

Heads must roll

 

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One Hundred Stories

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Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

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

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Noticeboard

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VTA

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ACPET Conference

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TDA Conf 2015

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Velg conf

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The VET Store

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

VET Development Centre
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Victorian Vet Funding Review – Executive Summary – Issues Paper

16 July 2015

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Consistent with the Terms of Reference, the Review assumes that a contestable system will continue and will need to operate within the existing budget. If properly implemented, contestability has the ability to drive innovation, efficiency and improvement, and empower students and industry to choose their training and provider.

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Funding should be targeted towards education and training that is high quality, meets Government’s objectives, and is delivered Apprenticesby capable providers. The design of the system should place greater emphasis on quality and less emphasis on the number of providers. A provider classification system could help government prioritise its investment in VET to fewer, capable providers. Government funding could be directed to areas of labour market need.

The Review has had the benefit of considering the Review of Quality Assurance in Victoria’s VET System, which was separately commissioned by Government, and its findings are consistent with what the Review has observed. The Review considers that its work is complementary to it, and will continue to consider it as the Final Report is developed.

Students need to be better protected and supported, to make informed training decisions that have the best chance of meeting their needs, and to avoid being overly influenced by providers. This could include more and better information and support services, and tighter regulation of marketing, brokers and aggregators. Reintroducing a compulsory student contribution to training (with appropriate concession arrangements) may also assist student decision making by making them more conscious of the costs of their VET choices.

The Review considers a sustainable TAFE sector is essential to the provision of VET. However, arrangements for TAFEs need to be reconsidered to ensure they are reasonable and allow TAFEs to survive and thrive in the future. Such arrangements could include an additional funding stream that recognises their contribution and costs. In the longer term, the establishment of polytechnic universities in key areas to improve educational and economic outcomes could also be considered. For example, a regional polytechnic could deliver a broad range of qualifications, including at bachelor degree level, across the state.

VET must meet the skill needs of industry. Most students undertake VET in order to get a job, or a better job. But the training is not matching industry skill needs to the extent that it could or should, and this is limiting the potential of the system. There is scope for the funding system to better reflect priorities, and for greater cooperation and information sharing between employers, training providers, government and students.

Finally, VET has an important role in providing training and access to further education by vulnerable, disadvantaged and high needs groups, and the funding system should ensure that this is recognised and supported. This could include a new way of thinking about community service obligations, changes to loadings and concessions, and creation of a new preparatory year to provide students with foundational skills.

 

Summary of changes being considered by the  VET Funding Review

Better targeting funding

  1. Establish a training provider classification system
  2. Clearly articulate to the market the role and objectives of VET
  3. Retain the student entitlement but ensure investment is targeted
  4. Improve teacher training
  5. Reduce the number of funded courses
  6. Fund courses based on labour market and industry priorities

Supporting and protecting students

  1. Reintroduce a compulsory or minimum student fee
  2. Provide more support for students to make training choices
  3. Tighten restrictions on the type of marketing activity a provider can use
  4. Regulate or ban brokers and aggregators
  5. Tightly regulate subcontracting
  6. Introduce protocols for online learning
  7. Introduce protocols for work-based training
  8. Greater use of summative testing
  9. New regulatory options for private providers

Sustainable and supported TAFEs

  1. Clearly articulate the role of TAFE
  2. Fund TAFE fairly and sustainably
  3. Use TAFEs to expand access to higher education

Supporting jobs and industries

  1. Increase industry input in setting labour market priorities
  2. Establish a workforce training innovation fund
  3. Encourage specialisation in industry training
  4. Limit funding of courses at Diploma level to skill shortage areas

Supporting training for vulnerable, disadvantaged and high needs groups

  1. Reform the funding of Certificates I and II
  2. Clearly articulate community service activities, and move toward outcomes-based funding
  3. Consider reforming loadings and use other mechanisms to address areas of high need
  4. Consider changes to rural and regional training arrangements
  5. Consider changes to the administration of concession arrangements

Victorian VET Issues Paper

16 July 2015

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

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The VET Funding Review was an election commitment by the Andrews Labor government to provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE save-our-tafeInstitutes and private training providers, following the chaos that attended the introduction of fully contestable funding by the Baillieu/Napthine governments.

The review, led by former Holmesglen chief  Bruce Mackenzie with former Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief  Neil Coulson as deputy reviewer, spent three months consulting with employers, industry, training organisations and teachers, and received more than 900 submissions.

The Issues Paper highlights a range of things that it says need to be addressed including:

  • Ensuring only high quality providers can access government funding for training
  • Encouraging training provision which provides students and employees with practical, hands-on training which meets the needs of modern industry
  • Ensuring better support for TAFEs so they can fulfil their crucial role in the community.

According to the paper the current system does not fully recognise the unique obligations on the TAFEs, or the value they provide. The current funding arrangements have had a significant impact on the TAFEs, which are not sustainable. It puts at risk the delivery of more expensive but highly valued courses such as apprenticeships, and programs for the disadvantaged. It does not propose, however, shutting out private providers a la South Australia.  Rather it suggests a more robust “gateway”, such as a new provider classification system to regulate access to government funding, and provide an incentive for continuous improvement by providers This would presumably be somewhat along the lines proposed by the now abolished National Skills Standards Council, adopted by COAG but abandoned by the Abbott government, The Victorian government has already launched  a major blitz to crackdown on “dodgy” training providers in order to lift standards in sector- the price tag of $9 million suggests that most, if not all, the 400 or so private providers with access to public funding will be audited.

Under the current system, the Review finds that students and industry are not effectively influencing the VET market. As a result, the system has been led by course offerings by providers, resulting in mixed success in matching industry needs and training.

The paper says that, as currently configured, the training system’s funding arrangements encourage a “counter-productive cycle of provider behaviour” and government response, creating instability in the sector.

It suggests that reintroducing a compulsory student contribution to training (with appropriate concession arrangements) may also assist student decision making by making them more conscious of the costs of their VET choices and the value of their training entitlement, which can be too easily “burned” by unscrupulous providers enrolling students in inappropriate courses.

In 2014, approximately 40% of funding in Victoria was provided to just 20 courses.   It suggests that reducing the number of courses eligible for government funding could make the system simpler, reduce the ability of providers to chase profit by chasing funding rates, and set clearer government priorities on the skills it wants for the Victorian economy.

Other states and territories have significantly reduced the number of courses that are eligible for government-funded training, including New South Wales, which only funds 744 out of a possible 2,925 courses

Taking into account the efficacy of a “price signal”, simplification and better targetting of funding to actual student and industry needs, the Review proposes  ‘pricing framework’, with differentiated subsidy rates to match the level of skill needs.

Funded courses and their subsidy levels would be selected based on clear objectives, such as the current and future skills needs of the Victorian economy, the likelihood that the course will provide improved employment opportunities for students, or other social policy objectives.

Mackenzie funding table

Under this sort of arrangement, subsidy levels could also vary between regions, allowing the VET system to respond to different needs in specific regions.

In releasing the report, Victorian skills minister Steve Herbert said the issues paper is “an important step in developing a new funding model that helps students get the real skills needed for real jobs and to ensure that industry gets the skilled workforce they need for economic growth”.

The Review panel will further consult with employers, training providers and the community about the options detailed in the Issues Paper in the coming weeks.

Submissions for the second round consultation close on 7 August.

See
Victorian Vet Funding Review – Executive Summary – Issues Paper
VET Funding Review

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Victorian VET Sector Snapshots

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Snapshot 1

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Snapshot5

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 www.jetstar.com.au 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 www.tda.edu.au


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

NCVER
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 Jerome.DeRose@cit.edu.au