Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Just a bit of evidence!

Monday, September 25 2017

In the middle of the debate of the Government’s higher education reforms just over a week ago, the OECD released its Education at a Glance 2017 report. At about 450 pages it’s a bit more than a ‘glance’ and contains a raft of detail that lets us see how Australia’s education and training compares to other OECD countries. This remains important as it establishes a real comparison on how Australia is investing in its future.

For tertiary education, the report highlights that nearly 50% of young adults (25-34 year olds) have attained a tertiary education qualification. This is well above the OECD average of 43%. More generally, the report demonstrates that Australian participation rates are amongst the best in the OECD. The following diagram from the report highlights Australia’s ‘position’ across the sectors.

*Click to enlarge 

So, a pass mark so far.
Of course, much of the commentary by those opposed to the Government’s proposed higher education reforms is concerned with the increasing shift of the financial burden onto those public university students who receive Commonwealth supported places. While Australia’s overall investment in tertiary education is currently above the OECD average, the private (students) share is also amongst the highest in the OECD as highlighted in the diagram below. The report points out that only in Chile and Japan do households account for a greater share of tertiary expenditure.

*Click to enlarge

This is perhaps where the debate needs to be. That is, it remains incredibly important that Australian Governments invest in the future through education. Yes, the public/private good argument does mean that students also should make a contribution, it will always then be about how much?
For students attending private higher education institutions in Australia there is no government contribution to their tuition fees. This is why ACPET has been arguing strongly for a ‘fair go’ for these students.

The increasing reliance on student loans and other funding mechanisms would appear to be an escalating feature across the OECD, not just in Australia. Overall it is clear from the report that many countries are confronting some of the same education and training challenges and policy issues as they seek to respond to the changes in their economies and labour markets.

So while we do at times, necessarily, focus on the problems and challenges we face it is worth ‘standing back’ and recognising the overall world-class quality of Australia’s education and training sector. Despite the setbacks from time to time we have much to be proud of.
And of course, this means we should invest in it.

This is where Governments and the election cycle have an enormous impact. Investment in education is always a key election topic. As an example, I presented last week at the World TVET conference in New Zealand. While they only wanted to talk about the rugby, what was interesting is that only a week out from their National election, the current Minister and the Shadow both attended and presented their election dossier. What it showed is that the result will have an enormous impact on our colleagues over the ditch. Cuts to international students, free education versus student contribution and a plethora of other ideological differences will mean changes are ahead.

Yes, for Australia this may present an opportunity in the complex international marketplace. However, it shows that we remain a long way from an impartial evidence based approach to education.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now, I might just indulge in a bit of marketing.

At the ACPET National Conference in late August I announced that in conjunction with Velg Training we are running a blockbuster week of online professional development for VET trainers within the sector. 

The National VET PD Week is being held from 23 -27 October and includes ten webinars that have previously received overwhelming demand. We will be offering the best of the best at the rate of $49 per session. To wrap up the week, myself and Kerri Buttery, Velg Training CEO will present a webinar together on the Friday afternoon. I am very excited about the week and the partnership with Velg.

I would strongly encourage you to send your staff along to one, if not to a number of these sessions, there is real value and opportunity here. 

On a final note, in honour of our 25 year birthday, ACPET is offering 25% off all PD Plans. We really do believe PD can help improve and enhance the sector’s capability.

Take a look at the PD Plan special which provides all staff within your organisation unlimited access to ACPET PD for 12 months.

Rod Camm
Chief Executive Officer


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