Victorian TAFE cuts

TDA Newsletter 30 March 2015

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Victoria pumps an extra $50m into the TAFE system

The Victorian state government has pumped an additional $50 million into the TAFE system, with a ‘Back to Work’ fund that it says will create at least 100,000 jobs.

The fund will offer one-off grants to TAFEs to develop and expand courses that align with the needs of local employers.

The new fund is in addition to the $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund, which is helping TAFEs in financial difficulty.

The latest Victorian Training Market report shows that government subsidised enrolments in TAFE fell by 33% over the last year from 207,943 to 139,182.

In 2014, 56% of all government subsidised enrolments were with private registered training organisations. The share held by TAFE was down from 32% to 25% over the course of the year.

An editorial in The Age slammed the recent cuts to TAFE and endorsed the government’s funding injection.

“This is what smart, progressive societies do. They invest in education, invest in new skills to match changing technologies and job markets; they build the skills to compete nationally and internationally,” The Age said.

See more on the $50 million TAFE package.

See the 2014 Victorian Training Market Report.

See the editorial in The Age.


Competency based training a focus of international community college conference

TDA’s Director of Policy and Stakeholder Engagement, Pam Caven, has just participated in the 15th annual Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA) conference in Boston, Massachusetts, where she presented a workshop on Australia’s experience with competency based training.

The topic was a major theme at the conference, as it is being adopted by some American colleges and universities, most notably by Western Governors University.

The appeal of competency based learning in both Australia and the US rests on its links with the workplace, the promise of more employable graduates, increased productivity, and formalising of existing work skills with the qualification framework.

However, the concept of competence has always been elusive. See Pam’s presentation to the conference.

Pam is a member of the Board of CCBA and was elected as Deputy Chair.


South Australia opens nominations to training awards

Nominations have opened for South Australia’s training awards, which will mark their 20th anniversary this year.

There are six individual awards and five organisation awards, with a $5000 prize for individuals.

Two information sessions will be held in April to provide practical advice on how to prepare applications and maximise the chances of winning.

The awards gala dinner will be at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on September 11.

Entry to the awards is free and nominations close Friday 15 May. See more.

Meanwhile Queensland’s training awards (now in their 54th year) will close on 10 April.  See more.


TDA national conference sponsorship opportunities

We are delighted that TAFE NSW has taken a Gold Sponsorship and Debit Success has confirmed the Barista sponsorship at the 2015 TDA National Conference, 10-11 September in Hobart.

Other confirmed sponsors and exhibitors include Echo360Technology One, smallprint Australia Pty Ltd, Catapult eLearning Pty LtdDepartment of Education and Training – Unique Student Identifier and MySkills.

While the 3 x 3 metre exhibition booths are already sold out, there are still a range of sponsorship opportunities, including a limited number of 2 x 3 metre booths.

The audience includes TAFE Institute directors and senior staff, industry, government and international delegates. The 2014 conference in Sydney attracted over 400 delegates and widespread media attention.

The 2015 conference will explore topics, including, fostering partnerships with industry; the role of the public provider in a deregulated market; the VET interface with higher education; managing risk in a competitive environment, and Australia’s partnerships abroad.

A highlight will be the Sino-Australian VET Forum, involving a delegation of 80-100 Chinese VET officials from Eastern China.

For more information regarding sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please contact Sarah at: tda@pco.com.au or call 02 8880 7608.


TDA national conference booking and flight information

Accommodation and registration information regarding the 2015 TDA National Conference will be available in early May.

Qantas currently has a sale to Hobart that is valid at the time of the conference. The sale expires on 31 March.

We suggest arriving in Hobart on Wednesday 9 September before 1pm if you would like to attend one of the pre-conference workshops (2-4pm).

If you plan to attend the welcome reception at MONA on Wednesday evening, please arrive at the airport by 4pm.

The conference will commence at 10am, Thursday 10 September and finish at 5pm, Friday 11 September, followed by a Governor’s Reception at Governor’s House, 6-7pm.

On Saturday 12 September, there will be an optional post conference workshop, and, of course, we highly recommend taking time to do a tour or two while in Hobart!


TDA puts its view on the future of training packages

The Board of TDA has made submissions on who should develop and maintain training packages and how packages could be improved.

It follows the VET Reform Taskforce’s call for submissions on the reform of training packages.

See TDA’s submission on industry engagement in training package development.

See TDA’s submission on the review of training packages and accredited courses.


TDA seeking a policy analyst

There is a position vacant for a Policy Analyst with TDA.

The preferred location for the position is in Sydney.

A candidate information package is available by contacting memberservices@tda.edu.au

Further information about the role can be obtained by contacting the Acting CEO, Malcolm White on (02) 9217 3180

The closing date for applications is Friday 24 April.


Save the date – global and national VET trends symposium, Perth, 27 May

The Centre for Training Excellence and LH Martin Institute are holding the ‘Global and national trends: policy decisions and impacts on vocational and higher education’ symposium in Perth on 27 May. Speakers include:

  • Professor Leo Goedegebuure, Director, LH Martin Institute
  • Professor Peter Noonan, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, Victoria University
  • Malcolm White, Acting CEO, TAFE Directors Australia
  • Bruce Mackenzie, Chair, VET Funding Review & former TDA Chair & CEO Holmesglen.
  • Simon Walker, Executive Director, Policy, Planning and Innovation, Department for Training and Workforce Development WA.

It is essential professional development for people who set strategy and want to make informed decisions to support the current and future direction of their learning institutions.

More information will be available soon.



Diary Dates

WAVE National Conference
Leaders, teachers, learners, leavers: Women in the Australian VET market

DATE: 8 April 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne, Victoria
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

AVETRA
18th Annual Conference

DATE: 8-10 April 2015
LOCATION: The Rendezvous Grand, Melbourne
DETAILS: More information.

Group Training Association of NSW & ACT
The future of work: Rethinking employment, training and skills in NSW and ACT

DATE: 7 May 2015
LOCATION: Amora Hotel, Sydney
DETAILS: More information.

Global Concepts Symposium
Centre for Excellence & LH Martin Institute

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

EduTECH
National Congress & Expo

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

NSW ITABS
Navigating the new world: New challenges = New Opportunities

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

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

NCVER
‘No Frills’ 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: More information coming soon.

VET Development Centre
Teaching and Learning Conference

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

National VET Conference
Velg Training

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

 

VET declines in Victoria

23 March 2015

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 The Andrews government says the latest Victorian Training Market Report the vocational education and training (VET) in Victoria was in crisis under the former Napthine government.

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decline (1)

TAFE enrolments, in particular have continued to plummet, with government-subsidised places falling by 33% over the past year.

More vulnerable Victorians are missing out with government-funded training enrolments by regional students, trainees, disabled and disadvantaged learners all in decline.

There was an 18% drop in 15 to 19-year-olds receiving government-funded training last year.

Training and skills minister Steve Herbert said the figures, which were revealed in the latest Victorian Training Market Report, showed the damaging impact of the former government’s cuts to the sector.

It shows we have had a failure of our training system at exactly the time when our economy and people needed it the most. Our training system should have been veering up, but the opposite happened.

The report, which was released on 23 March, said since 2012 there has been a 40% drop in students undertaking government-subsidised apprenticeships and traineeships.

Private training organisations now make up 56% of all government-subsidised enrolments, up from 48% in 2013.

This compares to a share of just 25% for TAFEs, down from 32% the previous year.
Once full-fee students were taken into account, TAFE course enrolments were down by 15% compared to 2013.

Herbert said TAFEs look after the most disadvantaged students, support local communities and were often the only training providers in rural areas.

Herbert said he didn’t think it is sustainable for them to drop much more.

He said the former government cut TAFE and training funding by $1.2 billion which meant less teachers, less courses and less services for disadvantaged students.

He said the government is committed to repairing  the damage but said it could not be done overnight.

The challenge of the new government is to reverse that trend, get a funding system that is stable and to make sure our training system matches our jobs and grows opportunities for all people.

The Andrews government has announced 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.

Key points

  • Fewer students were in government subsidised training in 2014 compared to 2013 – down 8% and down 13% since 2012
  • Completion rates have been steadily declining – only 34%of courses commenced in 2013 were reported as being completed
  • There are declining numbers of young people in government subsidised training –down 13% in 2014
  • Declines in training participation have occurred across the state – there was a 12%  decline in the number of students living in regional Victoria enrolled in government subsidised training compared to a 7% decline in metropolitan Melbourne
  • There has been a decline in enrolments by TAFEs – the number of government subsidised enrolments by TAFEs dropped by 33% over the last year, from 207,943 to 139,182 in 2014
  • Apprentice enrolments have been stable over the last year
  • Traineeships continue their large decline –down by 34% in 2014
  • Training in areas of skills and industry need increased in 2014 – government subsidised enrolments for qualifications in specialised or in shortage occupations rose 9% to 207,202 enrolments in 2014, accounting for 47% of all industry specific enrolments in 2014

 

Getting down to business on TAFE

4 December 2014

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The election of the new Labor government in Victoria paves the way for a major commitment to build and refurbish parts of the state’s TAFE system.

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Steve Herbert
New skills minister Steve Herbert  plots the future

 

Premier Daniel Andrews campaigned strongly on Labor’s $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund.

Promises include:

  • $10 million to re-open Swinburne Lilydale TAFE
  • $10 million to re-open TAFE in Greensborough
  • $8 million for a student hub at Holmesglen TAFE, Moorabbin
  • $25 million to rebuild Chisholm TAFE, Frankston
  • $5 million for an industry hub at Federation University TAFE, Ballarat
  • $7.8 million for an Environmental and Animal Science Centre in Bendigo
  • A VET funding review, headed by former Holmesglen CEO and former TDA Chair, Bruce MacKenzie.

Andrews says that $66 million of the $100 million TAFE rescue plan has been announced, with the balance to be allocated.

Steve Herbert – a former chief of staff to Lynne Kosky – has been appointed minister for training and skills in the incoming government.

Lilydale to re-open

SBS News    |     3  December 2014

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The closed TAFE/HE  campus at Lilydale on the outskirts of Melbourne will be reopened,  new Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says.

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Andrews reopens Lilydale
Unlocking the doors to the Lilydale TAFE/HE campus.

TAFE providers have already shown interest in reopening a closed campus on the edge of Melbourne,  Andrews says.

He visited Swinburne University’s former Lilydale campus on 2 December to announce it would reopen with a $10 million refurbishment. Andrews said

Privately there’s been already some very strong expressions of interest (and) willingness to sit down and talk with the incoming government.  I’m very confident we will not only reopen these buildings, but also make sure this is bigger and better than it ever was.

The Lilydale commitment is part of a $320 million injection into the TAFE sector, which saw staff cuts, courses dropped and campus closed after funding cuts by the Coalition in 2012.  Swinburne closed the campus in 2013.

Andrews said Victoria had the worst unemployment rate among the mainland states and needs to give people skills to get work.

He did not expect the government would need to kick in money to the successful provider, saying that “the community is an attractive market”.

Andrews said the government was looking at options for NMIT’s (now Melbourne Polytecnic) closed campus in Greensborough, which Labor also promised to refurbish and reopen.

With more job cuts potentially flagged at car manufactures,  Andrews said he was in contact with major employers.

Every job is worth fighting for and my office is in the process of bookings calls with GM, Holden and Toyota and a whole range of other employers.

New Senate inquiry into VET

24 November 2014

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A wideranging inquiry into the regulation and funding of private vocational education and training providers is set to kick off in the Senate  amid concerns about private VET providers misusing public funding and warnings that proposed  higher education changes could see shoddy practices emerge in the higher education sector.

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Piggy bank The inquiry’s terms of reference, negotiated between Labor and the Greens, and apparently supported by sufficient of the cross bench to get the proposal up,  call for examining: private sector access to public funds; regulatory regimes governing the sector; the VET FEE-HELP scheme; the overall quality of education provided; associated learning requirements; and graduate outcomes for those completing training with private providers.

It’s also proposed that the inquiry will scrutinise marketing and promotional techniques both private providers and third-party brokers employ, incidents of non-compliance with regulatory frameworks and political donations from private providers.

The inquiry would follow the Coalition Government’s recently announced crackdown on “unscrupulous or misleading behaviour by ‘brokers’ who act as an intermediary between students and training providers, as part of the new standards for RTOs”.

This comes amid industry efforts to weed out poor performing providers in the wake of Australian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA) data released earlier this month that revealed high rates of initial non-compliance with national regulatory standards amongst providers.

The data led to ASQA and ACPET defending the sector, saying providers swiftly addressed most non-compliance issues and that action was being taken to identify and deal with a minority of firms that were ruining the industry’s reputation. ACPET plans to release a draft code of conduct and new set of guidelines dealing with these issues before the end of the year.

Opposition spokesperson  Kim Carr told New Matilda the inquiry would have implications for the Government’s plan to deregulate the university sector, a key plank of which is to open an $800 million pool of public funding to private providers of higher education courses.

Carr said he is particularly concerned about the Victorian VET experience, where deregulation of the sector by Labor Premier John Brumby allowed private providers to massively expand and take advantage of public funding.

He attacked the Liberal state government for moving further towards a system more advantageous for private providers and suggested federal legislation may be needed to bring the private providers back into line.

This is so important for individuals and for the country. This is not just an isolated set of allegations now and I’m concerned to see there is quite strong action taken by the parliamen.

Rodd Camm, CEO of the Australian Council of Private Education and Training, welcomed the inquiry, but denied rorts in the VET sector are “widespread”.

You can’t be opposed to [the inquiry]. We’re willing to have the sector scrutinised. I do not think there is widespread misuse [of public money], I think it’s at the margins of the sector, but not withstanding that there have been some fairly high profile failures. We have to stamp it out.

Camm said it is “a bridge too far” to link problems in the VET sector to the higher education sector, which he said had higher benchmarks and barriers to entry.

See
Senate VET inquiry launches today

Labor pledges $1.2 billion to make Victoria the "education state"

Victorian Labor      |       26 October 2014

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Victorian Labor has kicked off its campaign for the state election on29 November with the promise of a $1.2 billion dollar package to upgrade schools and the TAFE  Government school upgrades and refurbishments would cost $510 million, $120 million would be provided for Catholic and independent schools and  $50 million would be spent on upgrading kindergartens across the state. Labor would also provide millions of dollars to help struggling families with uniforms and shoes.   Labor also proposes a network of technical schools around the state , with 10 centres to be set up with a $125 million fund.  The “first act” of an incoming  Labor government would be to set up a $320 million “TAFE rescue fund” to reopen closed campuses, bailout struggling centres at risk of financial failure. There will also be a review of VET.

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Speaking at the Labor party’s campaign launch in Geelong, Labor leader Daniel Andrews vowed to make  Victoria “the education state” with the  $1.2 Dan Andrewsbillion package.

From pre-school to post-grad, a Labor government will be there for you every step of the way.

We wont just fix schools, we’ll help them do more.

[You] can’t get a first-rate education in a second-rate classroom

Labor has declared that it would create a $150 million school camps, sports and excursion fund to help more students participate in those activities.

“Kids need to get outdoors, get fit and get a good education, but under the Liberals, they’re missing out,” Andrews said.

A further $15.5 million partnership with State Schools Relief to provide school uniforms and shoes to struggling families and also invest $13.5 million to fund 500 breakfast clubs at disadvantaged schools, giving meals to 25,000 children every day.

On its first day in government Labor would set up its 320 “TAFE rescue fund”.

Gough Whitlam built our TAFE system and I refuse to sit back and watch it die,” he said. “The funds will start flowing on day one of an Andrews Labor government.”

This is an emergency and we simply cannot wait.

Under the technical schools network plan students would spend a set period of time getting a technical education while maintaining enrolment at their local secondary schools.

One school will be in Geelong, with the remaining nine centres to be announced in the coming weeks.

Courses would be designed by TAFEs, universities and local industry.

Andrewa  said  “it’s not just a path to a career, it’s a red carpet,” Mr Andrews said.

“Tech schools are coming back, refined and reformed, because out kids deserve a head start on a hands-on profession,” he said.

Labor would also conduct a review of the  VET system, headed by former Holmesglen Institute chief Bruce McKenzie.

The Labor leader said all election costings would be signed off on by globally recognised accounting firm, Moore Stephens.

“They are fully funded, and fully costed,” Andrews said.

Key points
  •  $510 million to upgrade government schools
  • $120 million to upgrade Catholic and independent schools
  • $125 million to establish 10 regional technical  schools
  • $320 million for TAFEs
  •  $50 million to upgrade kindergartens
  • $150 million for camps, sports and excursions fund
  • $15.5 million partnership with State Schools Relief to provide school uniforms, shoes, to struggling families and free eye tests and glasses for kids at 250 disadvantaged schools
  • $13.5 million for 500 breakfast clubs at disadvantaged schools, serving up 25,000 meals a day.
See
Back to school: skills for our future, support for our kids 

The Scan's top ten reads – September 2014

1 October 2014

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

In September The Scan published 67 posts, although we also extracted 39 submissions to the Senate inquiry into the  government’s higher education reform legislation.  Scan readers seem to be drawn to a whiff of controversy , with the suspension of a vice-chancellor and the suspension of a listed company’s trading (albeit temporarily) topping the most read list. The Senate submissions feature third, which is pretty good for that sort of subject. As usual, the travails of the TAFE sector in the era of skills reform features highly, particularly in Victoria, where it could be a prominent issue at the election due in November. Top reads bottomed out with a reprise of a post from July.

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 Murdoch suspends vice-chancellor

Richard Higgott19 September 2014    |    Murdoch University suspended vice-chancellor Richard Higgott on full pay on 19 September as a result of the outcomes of a recent investigation by the university, which have been referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) for further assessment pursuant to section 28 of the Corruption and Crime Commission Act (2003). The decision to suspend Higgott was a unanimous resolution of the Murdoch University Senate. Murdoch University chancellor David Flanagan said the decision to suspend Higgott was regrettable but necessary as a result of the findings of the investigation and the policies of the university….[ READ MORE ]…

Trading in Vocation suspended

vocation (1)19 September 2014   |   Trading of shares in ASX-listed VET provider Vocation was temporarily suspended on 19 September at the request of the company, given ongoing speculation regarding its Victorian government funding contracts. Trading resumed on 22 September. Since listing in December 2013, Vocation has derived 80% of its revenues from subsidiary BAWM, most of which (90%) comes from Victorian government VET funding. However, that funding is being withheld, pending the outcome of an audit of courses provided by Vocation. It’s reported that the audit may relate to the practice of “channelling”, whereby a provider enrols students in courses other than what they originally intended to enrol in, in order to receive a greater level of government subsidy. A previous audit of BAWM, in December 2013, found evidence of channelling. …..[ READ MORE ]….

Sector submissions to the Senate Inquiry

25 September 2014    |    The government’s higher education reform package – the Higher Education and Research Reform Submissions1Amendment Bill 2014 – was referred on 3 September to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for consideration and report by 28 October. The committee has published the 139 submissions it received on its website. There is almost unanimous support for passage of the package, particularly fee deregulation, on the basis that the long run decline in public funding is damaging the sector. Several submissions express opposition or concern about the extension of public subsidies to private providers (ACU stridently so). There is a united view that the package needs to be amended, particularly to at least ameliorate the burden of debt on future generations of students, that would follow from the combination of substantial fee increases and the imposition of a real interest rate on student loans (although no unanimity on how that might be achieved). Deakin University says the proposed changes to the HECS repayment scheme are unfair and rejects any compromise on this issue. The Regional Universities Network and the Group of Eight have formed a unity ticket on additional support for regional universities and their students. Stephen Parker (vice-chancellor, University of Canberra) and the National Tertiary Education Union make strange bedfellows in urging rejection of the package in its entirety…..[ READ MORE ]…..

VET funding in Australia and the role of TAFE

tafe-image4 September 2014   |    Policy neglect and funding cuts are steadily eroding Australia’s vocational education and training sector, according to VET sector veteran and now academic Peter Noonan. Noonan told the TDA national conference that VET students, many from poor backgrounds, are at risk of having a “hoax” perpetrated on them as government training subsidies are progressively cut and they are forced to pay rising fees while funding for schools and universities has soared. Underscoring the scale of the under-investment in VET, Noonan said between 2004 and last year total operating spending by all governments rose by about 15% to $6.8 billion a year, but that was dwarfed by a 23% rise in school spending to $40bn a year and a 40% rise in higher education spending to $23bn a year…..[ READ MORE ]…..

Swinburne reconsidering its VET provision

22 September  2014     |   Dual sector Swinburne University is flagging a major restructure of its vocational training after Swineburne2falling short of revenue targets on the back of state government funding cuts and increasing competition from private providers. In a consultation paper issued to staff, Swinburne said revenue from vocational education and training had slumped from $123.5 million in 2012 to a now projected $70m this year. But it said its current organisational structure was predicated on the university generating at least $90m a year from VET, and alternative options now need to be considered. VET at Swinburne is currently spread over three separate centres, plus foundation provider Swinburne College and short course provider Industry Solutions. Their combined total revenue is just over the $80m a year, or similar to that generated by Swinburne’s smallest university faculty, the faculty of business and enterprise…..[ READ  MORE ]….

 Vic TAFE share continues to crash

decline (1)2 September  2014      |      Victoria’s TAFE system is near collapse, according to the Labor opposition, after $1.2 billion in government cuts, the Victorian Training Market Half Year Report has revealed. It shows that TAFEs’ share of the training market dropped from 48% in the first half of 2010 to just 27% in the first half of 2014. Overall, government subsidised enrolments continued to decrease for the first half of 2014, with a 5% drop from the same time in 2013. TAFE enrolments in the first half have fallen 28% to 100,200 compared with 138,300 a year ago, while private providers have increased their enrolments by 20% to 214,300 from 180,000 a year ago. Labor spokesperson Steven Herbert said that if this trend were to continue under a future coalition government, TAFEs’ share would continue dropping to unsustainable levels, predicted to be as low as 8%. ….[ READ MORE ]….

Camm to head ACPET

1 September  2014    |  After just a year as managing director of NCVER, Rod Camm is moving on to become CEO of the Rod Camm2Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET), which became vacant following the sudden resignation of Claire Field in early July 2014. Camm has had a long career in the vocational education and training (VET) field. Prior to his appointment at NCVER he held the position of CEO of Skills Queensland. Before that he was Associate Director-General of the Queensland Department of Education and Training, and CEO of Construction Skills Queensland. He has performed numerous other executive roles across government and has sustained a strong relationship with industry…..[ READ MORE ]….

UWA sets undergraduate fee at $48,000

23 September 2014    |    The University of Western Australia is the first university to reveal its student fee structure under mortar boardthe government’s fee deregulation plans, advising a Senate committee it would charge an annual fee of $16,000 – $48,000 for a three year degree – for the five basic undergraduate courses it offers. That’s an increase of 160% for a degree in humanities disciplines (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years). And it does mean a price tag of around $100,000 for “professional degrees”, such as law, medicine, architecture and engineering. Medicine will likely break the $100,000 mark under the new price structure and law will be around $95,000. UWA says this is “commensurate’’ with its status as one of the leading universities in Australia and as one of the world’s top 100 universities. The new fees would take effect from 2016 provided Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s reform package passes the Senate, where it is facing heavy opposition from Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer’s crossbenchers. UWA’s pricing will set a benchmark for other elite Group of Eight universities as they reformulate their fees……[ READ MORE ]….

Sweeping VET deregulation

12 September 2014    |   Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has announced sweeping deregulation of the vocational educationMacFarlane and training (VET) sector with “high performing” VET providers delegated the authority to manage their own scope of registration and no longer needing the regulator’s permission to change courses or introduce new ones. Under the proposed changes, registered training organisations (RTOs) can apply to the Australian Skills Standards Agency (ASQA) for a delegation to manage their scope allowing RTOs to “get on with what they do best — delivering the high calibre training that meets industry and economy needs”. Macfarlane told a national VET conference that “quality training speaks for itself” and that, in a highly competitive environment, the best way to ensure an RTO delivers high quality training is to “let it stand on its reputation – not fill out reams and reams of paperwork and jump through endless hoops.” ASQA’s regulatory role will focus on dealing with “rogue operators” and providing education and guidance to ensure “voluntary compliance” with VET standards by RTOs. ASQA will no longer transition to a full cost recovery model as had been planned and its fees will remain unchanged in 2014-15……[ READ MORE ]….

Skills reform a “shemozzle”Jeff Cunningham

24 July 2014   |  Skills reform in Australia is an “absolute shemozzle” and is jeopardising a world-class vocational education and training system, says Jeff Gunningham, recently retired chief executive of  TAFE South Australia.  But the apparent troubles besetting TAFE are the invention of a “misinformed media”, according to the Victorian minister.  Gunningham told the Victorian TAFE Association conference that bureaucratic bungling and an obsession with the bottom line is degrading training and threatening the existence of public TAFE institutes.  He said TAFE is at risk in Australia, driven by a Council of Australian Governments policy on entitlement which is simply not working. “It’s a dog’s breakfast.”…..[ READ MORE ]….

 

 

Victorian training system failing – needs “urgent rethink”

 Service Skills Victoria     |     29 September 2014

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Enrolments in the service industry training in Victoria have fallen significantly over the last 18 months, according to new research conducted by Victoria and Federation Universities on behalf of Service Skills Victoria. The drop in enrolments is due to changes made to the funding of training in the service industries by the Victorian State Government.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….……Budget 2013

New subsidy rates were introduced in the 2012 State Budget for all new enrolments from January 2012 and for all existing students from January 2013. Further adjustments to the rates were made later in 2013 and in 2014.

A significant proportion – about 70% –   are in the two lowest funding bands at just $4.50 per hour or less of service industry qualifications, including hospitality and retail training.

John Sweetman, chair of Service Skills Victoria, says that as a result, some colleges have stopped offering courses in service sector qualifications altogether, while others have substantially reduced their course offerings.

The key findings of the research indicate that as a result of the funding changes there has been a substantial reduction in enrolments in a range of service industry training courses, especially in hospitality and retail.

Fewer enrolments has also meant the closure, mothballing or refitting for other purposes of specialist training facilities, such as those used for teaching kitchens and restaurants.

The changes have led to significant staff reductions by many training providers and a loss of morale among teachers, especially in the TAFE system,  Sweetman said.

The financial viability of many TAFEs and some private registered training organisations has also decreased substantially as a result of the changes.

A number of TAFE colleges in particular are now in a very precarious financial position and have a medium or high financial sustainability risk.

According to the researchers the changes present a risk to the quality of training delivery and an urgent rethink of the Victorian VET funding model is needed if confidence of both the service industries and training providers is to be restored.

The reduced funding has also resulted in the closure or reduction of key student support services, led to larger classes, less teacher-student contact, less classroom time and more online learning.

“The changes have been a major source of confusion for employers and providers and have resulted in a loss of confidence among employers in the quality of graduates and also a loss of public confidence in the broader vocational education and training system,” Mr Sweetman explained.

Mr Sweetman points out that industry is concerned that the decline in enrolments will mean insufficient numbers of trained staff to work in the service industries going forward.

“Industry is also concerned that the changes mean that the government has a low view of the importance and economic value and worth of the service industries.”

See
Review of the effects of funding approaches on Service Skills qualifications and delivery in Victoria

 

The Scan | #163 | 25 September 2014

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Vic’s ACFE joins TAFE “in crisis”decline (1)

24 September 2014     |     The travails besetting Victoria’s TAFE sector have spread to its Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) sector with the ACFE board 2013-14 annual report showing a $1.1 million loss for the ACFE Board after a $11 million cut in state government funding. ACFE returned a $9.4 million surplus in 2012-13. The sector has had a precipitous drop in government income from its peak in 2011-12 – down 80% – and since 2009-10 – down 40%….. [ MORE ]….

UWA sets undergraduate fee at $48,000

23 September 2014    Fees arrow|    The University of Western Australia is the first university to reveal its student fee structure under the government’s fee deregulation plans, advising a Senate committee it would charge an annual fee of $16,000 – $48,000 for a three year degree – for the five basic undergraduate courses it offers. That’s an increase of 160% for a degree in humanities disciplines (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years).   And it does mean  a price tag of around $100,000 for “professional degrees”, such as law, medicine, architecture and engineering. Medicine will likely break the $100,000 mark under the new price structure and law will be around $95,000.   UWA says this is “commensurate’’ with its status as one of the leading universities in Australia and as one of the world’s top 100 universities. The new fees would take effect from 2016 provided Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s reform package passes the Senate, where it is facing heavy opposition from Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer’s crossbenchers….. [ MORE ]….

Swinburne to restructure its VET provision 

23 September 2014    ||Dual sector Swinburne University is flagging a major restructure of its vocational training after falling short of revenue Swinburne logotargets on the back of state government funding cuts and increasing competition from private providers.In a consultation paper issued to staff, Swinburne said revenue from vocational education and training had slumped from $123.5 million in 2012 to a now projected $70m this year. But it said its current organisational structure was predicated on the university generating at least $90m a year from VET, and alternative options now need to be considered….. [ MORE ]….

La Trobe offers fee guarantee for early entry offers

23 September 2014    |     La Trobe University has offered some students a ‘fee cap guarantee’ if they study as part of the university’s new undergraduate early-La-Trobe_Logo_x2entry Aspire program. The university has offered about 1000 students the fee cap guarantee under the Aspire program – four months earlier than when offers are normally made and even before their exams had begun. The Aspire program recognises students with a proven commitment to involvement in their local community….[ MORE ]…..

Murdoch suspends vice-chancellor

Murdoch-logo-squared-200x17322 September 2014    |   Murdoch University suspended vice-chancellor Richard Higgott on full pay on 19 September as a result of the outcomes of a recent investigation by the university, which have been referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) for further assessment pursuant to section 28 of the Corruption and Crime Commission Act (2003). Murdoch University chancellor David Flanagan said the decision to suspend Higgott was regrettable but necessary as a result of the findings of the investigation and the policies of the university….[ MORE ]…..

Vocation shares suspended Vocation

19  September 2014     |    Trading of shares in ASX-listed VET provider Vocation was temporarily suspended on 19 September, at the request of the company, given ongoing speculation regarding its Victorian government funding contracts. Since listing in December 2013, Vocation has derived 80% of its revenues from subsidiary BAWM, most of which (90%) comes from Victorian government VET funding. However, that funding is being withheld, pending the outcome of an audit of courses provided by Vocation.  Trading resumed on 22 September.

….[ MORE ]…..

AQF Council disbanded

AQF19  September 2014    |    The Australian Qualifications Framework Council, which was responsible for governance of the Australian Qualifications Framework, has been disbanded. The council was originally established to deliver a review of the AQF, which culminated in the strengthened AQF. With this work completed, the government says it was timely to reconsider the role of the council. Stakeholders have been advised that the decision does not diminish the government’s commitment to the AQF, the residual functions of the council will be transferred to the Commonwealth department of education. Expert consultative bodies are to convened as required to advise ministers on any AQF policy matters which arise….[ MORE ]…..

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Milestones

NCVER appoints new CEO

Craig FowlerThe National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has announced the appointment of Dr Craig Fowler as its new managing director, to succeed Rod Camm who is heading off to the Australian Council for Private Education.  He will assume the post in late October. In announcing the appointment, the chair of NCVER, Professor Peter Shergold, said that Dr Fowler  has worked in both the private and public  sectors, including at very senior levels of the South Australian public service for the last 11 years.  He said Dr Fowler possesses an “exceptional depth of understanding of vocational education and training and the national training system, and a deep sense of the importance of skills acquisition to Australia’s future prosperity”.

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Comment & analysis

$100,000 degrees?

Sure thing!

24  September 2014

Initial reporting on the University of Western Australia’s proposed fee structure, announced to a Senate committee inquiry, was tentative, ambiguous and/or wrong: for example, ABC News reported it as a fee increase of “30%”. In the absence of any documentation, The Scan noted “we don’t know whether that’s the total price (student contribution plus commonwealth subsidy) or the proposed student contribution. If the former, that’s an increase of around 30% for a degree in humanities disciplines , if the latter…. that’s an increase of 160% (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years)”.

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$ sign

We were soon able to confirm it was the 160% scenario. We agree with The Australian that UWA’s presentation of this has a “tinge of insincerity” to it, proclaiming that “UWA is offering future students the opportunity to obtain a three-year undergraduate degree from one of the world’s top 100 universities for less than $50,000” – leaving out the material fact, that, under current arrangements, you can get an undergraduate degree from UWA in the humanities for under $20,000 or in science for about $26,000. UWA’s media statement points to the fact that “all UWA undergraduate degrees lead to a range of professional degrees at postgraduate level with a high level of flexibility” ,which leads directly to the “$100,000” degree outcome which education minister and advocates of full fee deregulation have consistently decried as “scaremongering”. This is neatly explained in The Australian’s High Wired blog, which as always cuts to the chase, with a bit of edge. One point High Wired calculates the current cost of a law at UWA as $82,198: we think it’s somewhat less, with an Arts degree followed by law currently coming in at $65,646. This is not cheap: students who are currently studying for in an arts-law or economics-law combination at most other Group of Eight universities, such as Monash, Sydney, Queensland or Adelaide, would pay around $53,000).

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Sector submissions to the Senate Inquiry

25  September 2014

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Generally supportive of reform, with significant amendments

mortar board


The government’s higher education reform package – the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 – was referred on 3 Septemberto the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for consideration and report by 28 October. Submissions to the inquiry closed on 22 September. The committee has published 79 submissions on its website. Following are extracts from 27 submissions lodged by higher education organisations (peak bodies) and individual institutions. There is almost unanimous support for passage of the package, particularly fee deregulation, on the basis that the long run decline in public funding is damaging the sector. Several submissions express opposition or concern about the extension of public subsidies to private providers (ACU stridently so). There is a united view that the package needs to be amended, particularly to at least ameliorate the burden of debt on future generations of students, that would follow from the combination of substantial fee increases and the imposition of a real interest rate on student loans (although no unanimity on how that might be achieved). Deakin University says the proposed changes to the HECS repayment scheme are unfair and rejects any compromise on this issue. The Regional Universities Network and the Group of Eight have formed a unity ticket on additional support for regional universities and their students. Stephen Parker (vice-chancellor, University of Canberra) and the National Tertiary Education Union make strange bedfellows in urging rejection of the package in its entirety. The submissions can be viewed in full at the Senate website.   For background on the debate around fee deregulation, check The Scan archive – it’s extensive.

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19 September 2014

Meanwhile, in the US…

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With a furious debate going on about university fee deregulation in Australia, the US system of fee deregulation, lauded by the proponents of fee deregulation, has seen student debt in the US surpass debt from credit cards and auto-loans, and become second only to mortgages.
US talk show host John Oliver advises US college students to enjoy themselves – to party and to get out and about:

Please, make sure your college years are the best ones of your life, because thanks to the debt we are saddling you with, they almost certainly will be.

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For a summary :
Drink Beer, Shoot Fireworks Out Your Bum: John Oliver’s Uni Debt Warning

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 The best compromise for HELP loan interest rates

    25 September 2014

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 The government’s plan to charge up to 6% interest on HELP loans has been widely attacked as unfair. Many critics, including Shadow Education MinisterKim Carr, the Group of Eight universities, Universities Australia and HECS architect Bruce Chapman, have come out against pegging HELP loans to the bond rate, rather than CPI as it is now. Geoff Sharrock of the LH Martin Institute sets out a compromise.

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Interest rates

In the government’s Senate negotiations, a good compromise would apply CPI plus 1 percentage point to all HELP debts. The savings would tap a larger pool of graduates, not just those likely to face higher fees and larger loans in the future.

At lower real interest than the cases described here, CPI plus 1% may still bridge much of the gap between the two rates. In the last 10 years CPI ranged from 1.2% to 5%, and the bond rate from 3% to 6.5%. In the last two and a half years CPI ranged from 1.2% to 3%, and the bond rate from 2.9% to 4.3%.

CPI plus 1% would also give graduates an incentive to repay HELP debts as soon as they can, not just the minimum required. The risk is notably higher repayment costs for those who don’t clear their debts in say 20 years. But at 1% the real interest risk is less than with the Group of Eight 1.4% scenarios.

If the Senate agreed to this “1% solution” the budget savings would still be substantial. This would allow more scope to minimise subsidy cuts, another savings proposal that shifts costs to students. In turn this would reduce the risk of higher tuition fees, and higher HELP debts in the first place.

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Life & stuff

A gardening tip: plant on Grand Final Day, not Cup Day

22 September 2014

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Ever since anyone can remember, Melbourne Cup Day – the first Tuesday in November – has been the day for gardeners to start planting tomatoes in Melbourne, when warmer overnight temperatures are more reliable.

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Tomatoes

But University of Melbourne “urban horticulturalist” Dr Chris Williams says due to climate change, AFL Grand Final Day, the last Saturday in September, should replace the time-honoured planting signpost in gardening folklore.

Urban Horticulturalist Dr Chris Williams, from the Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne ( Burnley Campus) says that overnight temperatures through winter into early spring have warmed over the past ten years to make Grand Final Day the new seasonal signpost for tomato planting.

Once-upon-a-time the wise gardener would hold off planting tomatoes until Cup Day because those chilly spring nights could result in frost damage. But with this pattern of milder winter and spring nights you can plant summer crops like tomatoes a good month earlier.

And, what’s more, the warmer temperatures also mean Melbourne gardeners can now successfully grow heat loving crops such as sweet potatoes, once regarded as a from-Sydney-and-north home veggie.
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Vic's ACFE joins TAFE "in crisis"

 24 September 2014

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The travails besetting  Victoria’s TAFE sector have spread to its Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) sector with the ACFE board  2013-14 annual report showing a $1.1 million loss for the ACFE Board after a $11 million cut in state government funding.   ACFE returned a $9.4 million surplus in 2012-13.

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 The sector has had a precipitous drop in government income from its peak in 2011-12  – down 80% – and since 2009-10 – down 40%.

decline (1)

 

Summary information from the Adult, Community and Further Education Board’s reports for 2013-14, with comparative data for the previous four years.

2013-14 ($’000) 2012-13 ($’000) 2011-12 ($’000) 2010-11 ($’000) 2009-10 ($’000)
Income from government 26,200 37,122 116,503 64,211 42,182
Total income from transactions 26,200 37,122 113,695 64,180 58,883
Total expenses from transactions 27,355 27,748 113,695 64,180 58,883
Net result from transactions (1,155) 9,374 2,808 32 (922)
Other economic flows included in net result 29 (6) (53) 0 0
Net result for the period (1,126) 9,368 2,755 32 (922)
Net cash flow from operating activities 0 0 0 (7,166) 1,662
Total assets 42,214 43,125 24,990 40,564 31,936
Total liabilities 1,403 1,188 540 18,869 10,168

Key points of the report include:

  • There were training subsidy cuts of between 20% and 80% from the government subsidy rate for over 2000 courses.
  • Some 198 Learn Local centres (61%) had their funding reduced in 2013-14, and 118 had a 30% or greater reduction in funding.
  • Across Victoria 15 ACFE centres close meaning large parts of the state were uncovered by ACFE.

Approaching the state election in November, Labor spokesperson Steve Herbert said that  with the worst rates of youth unemployment on the Australian mainland,  TAFE and dult and community education is in crisis:

Labor has a plan for jobs and growth, but Denis Napthine is cutting funds, cutting skills and making it harder for people to find work.

Adult and community education trains and supports Victoria’s most disadvantaged job seekers.

Government-subsidised accredited and pre-accredited training delivery to educationally disadvantaged learners in 2013.

Learner characteristic* Total VET system enrolments Learn Local enrolments Proportion of total Learn Local enrolments
Number As proportion of VET system
Indigenous learners 6,500 1,000 15% 2%
Disengaged youth 36,000 4,100 11% 7%
Vulnerable workers 72,200 12,800 18% 23%
Learners with a disability 40,500 11,500 28% 21%
Males aged 45-64 45,000 4,800 11% 9%
Unemployed 134,800 18,000 13% 33%
CALD 137,500 15,200 11% 28%
Early school leavers 173,600 12,200 7% 22%

We were unable to locate any Victorian government statement.