Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Another week - what else can I say

Monday, February 15 2016

Well who could believe we have even more change in Tertiary Education this week. Thank you to the former Minister Luke Hartsyker. He did hit the ground with gusto and was always prepared to explain his changes to the system. We certainly did not agree with all of the reforms, but that said he was implementing changes with the view to a sustainable system for the future.

Congratulations to incoming Minister, Senator Scott Ryan. Many of us already know the Senator through his role in supporting Minister Chris Pyne in the Education and Training portfolio. We look forward to working with him as he charts a forward agenda for skills development in Australia.

Throughout all of the difficult times in the last year, the ACPET Board has been considering the best mechanism and approach to create the race to the top for private education and training. Of course there are many things to consider (any many bouncers to duck), however a critical element is the brand value of both private education and its representative, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training.

It is timely to give you a sense of our direction.

While not obvious to many, new complaints and quality committee arrangements have been introduced with the ACPET National Quality and Ethics Committee (ANQEC) tasked with developing a blueprint for growing a quality membership.

The Committee has established a set of guiding principles for determining ethical behaviour:

  • It is a member's responsibility to take personal accountability for ethics and quality
  • A foundation requirement of membership is Commitment to the Code of Ethics
  • Ethical Behaviour, while somewhat ambiguous requires a far higher level of commitment than merely compliance
  • Transparent Student Recruitment and Educational Support are the building blocks of tertiary education
  • Appropriate Governance must be seen as a distinguishing feature between quality providers and the rest
  • Output Benchmarks, while allusive need to feature in the consideration of an organisation's suitability.

The ANQEC is now focussing on a range of issues including establishing the criteria for a membership scorecard and assessing ACPET's scrutiny of the membership process.

However, what of the membership?

Currently you become a member or you don’t. A greater degree of sophistication is required to protect the members genuinely committed to quality.

What might that look like?

We already feature peer scrutiny as a component of considering new member applications. However, to be frank we often know little of new applicants. In this regard there is a strong argument for new members to commence in an Associate Membership category. This gives us the opportunity to visit the member and to develop a relationship. It is also an opportunity for the Associate to participate in forums, workshops and professional development and demonstrate the bona fides of their commitment to the Code of Ethics, by completing a comprehensive assessment against the Code, including a peer review of key educational elements.

Another element of membership of course is that the Board needs to be able to determine membership status if a member loses their way. The Board is currently considering show cause actions against a range of members. The outcomes for this can include termination of the membership. However, it may also be appropriate to consider placing conditions on members where rectification actions are necessary. A new ‘Conditioned Membership’ category is therefore attractive.

The final element, in addition to a standard membership category is how we recognise our Members of the highest standing. This would include Colleges with long standing memberships and a history of commitment to students, ethics and quality education. An Endorsed Membership category, to showcase our platinum members will undoubtedly create the race to the top of education that we seek, by showcasing our very best.

We will be organising Member workshops across the country to discuss and consider these important changes. Time is of the essence, but your help will be critical to our success.

In that regard I am also pleased that this week sees the release of our Member survey.

The survey will be sent out to the key contacts nominated by members so please keep an eye out for it.

Rod Camm


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