Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

More data, more confusion.....

Monday, August 1 2016

Now that sounds like a vision!

A quick conference update.

For those still contemplating it is time to register for the APIEF International Forum and ACPET conference – Hobart, 24-26 August

Our theme is Connecting knowledge skills and futures through education.   

Well-known journalist Quentin Dempster will kick off the Big Debate on the Future architecture of tertiary education in Australia. It is a great opportunity to hear great speakers, such as Professor Ian Harper, Chair of the Competition Policy Review, Andrew Norton, from the Grattan Institute, and Dr Subho Banerjee, Deputy Secretary, Skills and Training,

Catherine Caruana McManus will also present a vision of the future of technology and the implications of digital disruption for the workforce.
A panel of industry experts will reflect on what employers need from education and training providers to develop the future workforce, to innovate and to transition the economy towards prosperity.

Other discussions will centre on quality, accountability and standards, while key speakers debate the future of contestability and current issues around funding in tertiary education, and much more.

It’s of course been a big year for international education in Australia with growth that keeps breaking records. ACPET’s Asia Pacific International Education Forum (APIEF) will help you keep up to date.

It’s on 24 August 2016, Hobart, followed by the ACPET conference.

I myself am keen to hear from:

  • Meera Shenoy – a social change maker throughout India.  Her career in skills has been long. After working with the World Bank, UN development programs and advising Prime Ministers on skilling policy, Meera went on to found Youth4Jobs, placing large numbers of youth with disabilities from poor families into work. Meera’s recent book You Can, is already a best seller.
  • ACPET favourite Rebecca Hall – will share ‘state-of-the-nation’ insights and explain how important local or State-based plans are to advancing Australia’s position in global education. Rebecca is the newly appointed Executive Director of International Education and Training at Trade and Investment Queensland.
  • Riley Batchelor - a start-up professional leading EduGrowth, a new nation-wide initiative focused on growing Australia’s borderless education industry. Riley has 15 years experience in Education, Media, E-commerce and consumer startups.

And in the spirit of continuing your own learning, we have a team of respected international education players with long-standing relationships with ACPET to present workshops. Choose from

  • Ingeborg Loon – Perfecting Partnerships
  • Chris Evason - Managing International Agents Well
  • Michael Fay - Transnational education: What’s it all about?

In other news, last week the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) released Total VET Activity (TVA) for 2015. The report Total VET students and courses 2015 includes fee-for- service activity, both domestic and international.

This remains a very important data set and will inform both policy and practice in years to come.

So what does it say?

The report shows that of 4,542,600 student enrolments in 2015, 66.3% were with private providers. This compares with 57.6% in 2014.
TVA student enrolments were nearly three times government-funded enrolments of 1,597,800 in 2015 (which were down some 10% on 2014 enrolments). 

This shows many things. The private sector is a very real player in Australia’s skills agenda. Importantly it is not all about government funding. Only 50.3% of subject enrolments are government funded and this is dropping (as is government investment so hardly a surprise).

Fee for service and student loans are playing an increasing role in responding to needs of industry and students. Private providers also had slightly more government-funded activity.

A dimension to watch is that while student enrolments were up 16%, subject enrolment growth only increased by 7%, whereas delivery hours have essentially remained the same.

A key feature also worth noting is the growth in Diploma or higher AQF level enrolments, which in 2015 grew to 646,200 from 492,000 in 2014. Clearly the growth in VET FEE-HELP has influenced this increase in enrolments. So the sector is large and continues to perform despite the headlines.

That of course should not be interpreted that we lose sight of removing poor providers from our marketplace. That commitment is absolute and long term.

On 29 August 2016 The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) is launching its research, VET: securing skills for growth, which asks the question ‘How well is Australia's vocational education and training system preparing our workforce for tomorrow's jobs?’

At the launch, Victorian Minister Steve Herbert will outline the Victorian Government's strategic approach to strengthening the State’s vocational education sector.  Through a panel the launch will discuss:

  • The essential role of vocational education in Australia's education strategy, and how it can be improved;
  • The impact of recent changes to the sector and the priorities for the VET reform agenda; and
  • Case-studies of how industry and training providers can respond and adapt to future workforce needs.

ACPET is very pleased to have been able to contribute to the report. More information can be found at

Now a final a word on our recent Student Choice Counts campaign. The Federal Election campaign provided us with an opportunity to profile the contribution of the private sector, the importance of contestability and risks posed to student choice.

The Student Choice Counts campaign relied heavily on our members to mobilise their own employee, student and industry networks to contact their local candidates, media and other stakeholders. Advertising on digital and social media platforms, radio and press supported the grassroots communication activity. We wrote to Members of Parliament and candidates from major parties in every electorate twice, reached more than 1.6 million on Facebook and our messages were displayed over a million times on digital news media sites. Importantly, thousands of students and member employees actively supported the campaign on social media and by signing the petition. Many shared stories about their personal experience that helped us build the case for student choice with policy-makers.

Thank you to all those who supported the campaign. It has built a very solid foundation for us to continue advocacy with Ministers Birmingham and Andrews, and engage with Shadow Ministers Plibersek, Ellis and Cameron on the contribution of our members and the importance of ensuring students are offered an ongoing and genuine choice of quality courses and providers

On a final note I am very pleased that ACPET’s new COO, Kit Mcmahon starts with us today.

I look forward to working with Kit on the future ACPET agenda.

Rod Camm


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