Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Too much reform is never enough

Monday, July 24 2017

Last week I highlighted the current review of the National VET Regulator (NVETR) Act. It’s an important piece of the VET landscape that affects RTOs across Australia so getting it right will help ensure we have a sector that retains its world class reputation for delivering the skills that respond to the needs of students and industry.

Of course, this Act is one of a number of pieces of legislation that help underpin the sector’s world class reputation. Many of our members rely on the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, the National Code and the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Standards to provide the regulatory framework to help underpin Australia’s stellar performance in delivering international education.
The high quality reputation of Australia’s international education sector is a key reason students choose to come to Australia and we must be continually looking to ensure that our regulatory regime protects that proud reputation.

In the International Engagement section of today’s National Monday Update we include some information on proposed changes to the ELICOS Standards and the opportunity for public input. Like the review of the NVETR Act, there isn’t a lot of time for input with consultations closing on 11 August 2017.

These regulatory reviews come on the back of a raft of recent reforms in the VET sector, some significant changes proposed through the Government’s higher education budget and integrity reforms now before the Parliament and admissions transparency reforms about to kick in for all higher education providers. These reforms should provide plenty of material for the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, to cover in his keynote address to the ACPET National Conference in a month’s time.

I know many members will be interested to hear how the Skilling Australians Fund will be rolled-out in partnership with the states and territories. With the expiry of the previous National Partnership Agreement it’s vital there are no delays in getting agreement so that young job seekers and other learners can get the skills they and industry need. As I highlighted last week, government-funded VET enrolments are very subdued or in decline in most states and territories. It needs a real shot in the arm.

If the Minister hasn’t got enough material for his address with these and other reforms, the big and necessary reform is an integrated tertiary education and training funding and governance model. Now that would be an interesting discussion point.

The Minister will headline a diverse and stimulating Conference agenda. Professor Ian Harper, one of Australia’s pre-eminent economists, Reserve Bank Board member and leader of the federal government’s competition policy review will reflect on the recent ‘challenges’ of competition and contestability in VET and the lessons for governments and the sector. Professor Harper’s presentation is one not to miss.

It’s not too late to register for the Conference which is being held at beautiful Brisbane’s Southbank.


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