ACPET

Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Message from the Chair

Monday, February 9 2015

I am pleased to advise that the Board met on Friday 6 February.

It is an important time for our sector. The Board considered and approved the new Code of Ethics and Code of Practice, with some amendment to ensure they will distinguish between quality providers and the rest.

The Board is steadfastly committed to ensuring ACPET represents the quality end of tertiary education.

To that end my final comment relates to ethics and governance. Despite a very flawed and inaccurate misrepresentation of data by the ABC last week, Jenny Field (Evocca College), has decided to stand down from the Board until all matters are resolved. I respect her decision and recognise that while this can’t have been an easy decision, Jenny put the industry first. Jenny has made a significant contribution to ACPET.
I look forward to working with her again soon.

From the CEO

Another week slips past…

On a serious note, my thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends of the young man and father who was killed by the lightning strike on election day in Queensland. Kane was a much loved and respected trainer at Charlton Brown. I know the Charlton Brown team are in shock.

In terms of the business, I recognise that (unfortunately) education is a very political issue, particularly at the moment.

I would hope we are all in the industry to provide outstanding education to students. We have an internationally recognised quality system. If you are following the current debate, you may have trouble believing this!

Various elements of the vocational education and training sector are using the debate to further their own arguments, which is undermining confidence in our system.

What a surprise that the Australian Education Union has released a report that labels privatisation a ‘disaster’. They are certain that a TAFE monopoly is the only way!

I share their interest in ensuring that the vocational education and training system delivers the best results for students.  However, let’s not ignore that it is students who are voting with their feet and are choosing quality training colleges. This is not a negative - students are making these choices.

According to the Union, private training delivers nothing but poor quality, taxpayer waste, fat profits and poor outcomes for students. I doubt I have read a more biased and poorly researched report than the one released to support these assertions. Disappointing at best.

In terms of the lies, damn lies and statistics in the report I offer some evidence (just a bit is always nice) against statements made:

Allegation - The only way to restore quality to the sector is to limit the proportion of government funding tendered to the private sector to 30 per cent, to ensure TAFEs retain their capacity to provide quality training to all Australians who need it.

FALSE

Public funding of training delivery by private VET providers is an efficient and attractive investment for governments. Based on the latest financial information from NCVER  ACPET estimates in 2013 states and territories spent $5,247 per student for places at TAFE compared to only $2,078 per student, being only 40% of the cost of the TAFE equivalent, for the same student outcomes.
Further, despite the hysteria, Government funding to private VET providers nationally has only risen from 8 percent in 2009 to 17 percent in 2013. Perhaps the real problem for the AEU is that students are being given choices.

Allegation -Privatisation has been a disaster, we have lowered the quality of the training system and damaged TAFEs and got nothing in return.

FALSE


Private VET providers are consistently the most preferred supplier of nationally recognised training, with 45% of employers choosing these providers. Only 16.7% used TAFE as their main provider of nationally recognised training in 2013.
86% of students are satisfied with their overall quality of training compared to 89% for TAFE.
In 2014 graduates from private providers were also more likely to be employed after training compared to TAFE graduates (79% versus 74%) and were also more likely to gain employment after training (47% compared to 42%).

Allegation - We have got nothing in return

FALSE


The introduction of contestable funding models have successfully increased student numbers by over 200,000 since 2009.

Comment - The annual report of the Australian Skills Quality Authority last year found that 80 per cent of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) failed to meet minimum standards on a first inspection.

FALSE


This is a major misrepresentation. Non-compliance is reported, not failure to meet minimum standards. Non-compliance includes simple administrative mistakes and process errors.  More telling is that 77% of providers found to be non-compliant achieve full compliance after submitting rectification evidence and only 25 (6%) had their registration cancelled from over 400 compliance audits in 2013-14.

Comment - We need immediate action to lift standards: including minimum hours for courses, a ban on contracting out training to unregistered third parties and a crackdown on the way these companies market themselves.

Agreed


Changes can and must be made. Let’s build on the great outcomes we do get and remove any poor practice that we do find.

Working together will solve this, media releases and poor research won’t.

ACPET would welcome the public scrutiny of student completion data for all enrolments from all fund sources. If such information was more readily accessible, consumers, regulators and policy direction could focus on supporting successful providers and removing ineffective providers. 

ACPET supports a diverse and competitive sector and the role of TAFE as a public service provider. However, the reality is that when given choice, students are choosing private providers over TAFE.

Just like in schools, this is not a negative but the public system does need to be able to reform and respond.

However, all of this banter should not be an indication that we can’t do better.

I am pleased that on Friday 6 February our National Board endorsed our strengthened Code of Ethics and Code of Practice. We are finalising the last amendments and will be launching our Code very shortly.

Our members and their staff work hard to deliver high quality and flexible programs to their students. The suggestion that the public sector has a monopoly on quality is misguided.

Let’s work together in the interests of students rather than rehashing tired old debates.

In terms of higher education, you would be well aware that the debate continues and the final result is far from clear.

ACPET is committed to improving Australia’s tertiary education sector. Any extension of the demand driven system must be designed to improve the outcomes from the sector. The fact remains that the current system is not sustainable or equitable, as students studying at your institutions pay full fees, plus a further 25% administration fee.

There is a need to decouple the full deregulation debate from the elements of the package that relate to our part of the sector. That is, to offer CSPs to non-University Higher Education Providers.

It will grow participation, improve outcomes and remove the inequity!


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