Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, June 4 2018

I have mentioned previously the importance of our members understanding the quality of their own impact and the lack of recognition in the political debate.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Western Australian Skills Conference. It is a long standing event and is a credit to the organisers and the Department for remaining committed to this much needed opportunity to consider the future.

A key topic of discussion at the conference was the current state of the political debate.

I have mentioned here many times the sheer enormity of the contribution of independent education.  I wonder if the political wonks designing their policies have thought through the risk that their policies will result in government needing to find the money to fund an extra three million students a year. That is what would be required if the current bubble thoughts continue.

These risks are evident in the National debate but are also growing at the State and Territory level where Government in Victoria and the Northern Territory are already removing significant choices for students. I will write more about this in future editions.

In terms of the National debate, the ALP’s Shadow Minister Tanya Plibersek has explained their policy on Sky News. She emphasised that students during their studies, will do qualifications at University and at TAFE.

There it is. I remain an advocate for TAFE, but they deliver training to around 20% of total students. Apparently, the choices of the other 80% don’t matter. Nor do the growing choices of over 100,000 students who decide to study at Independent Higher Education Colleges.

Back to the tape, Tanya Plibersek lamented that TAFEs have been really run down and the ALP wants to see a world-class university system, side by side with a world class TAFE system.

I sense a hole in their budget strategy – how to fund the students who currently choose not to go to TAFE or Universities. Both industry and students have been voting with their feet for years and have been choosing quality independent providers. Apparently, the best solution to create a world class TAFE system is to take choice away from students and make them go to TAFE. Go figure.

My concern is when did the debate on the future of a Tertiary education system ever become just about the providers?

From both sides of politics, where is the focus on meeting the skills and knowledge needs of the future economy?

Where is the focus on innovation, diversity and lifting standards and pathways?

Where is the focus on how to meet the needs of the fourth industrial revolution, where creativity, automation, robotics, innovation and technology will impact on all jobs?

Perhaps the Super by-election Saturday on 28 July 2018 is the chance to demand a strategic approach to reform. Yes, our 3 million students and 100,000 workers can have a say.

In many regards students and employers are already voting. The fastest growing trends in VET are enrolments in single competencies, skills sets and unaccredited training.

The Roman Emperor Nero was said to have played the fiddle while Rome burned.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Rod Camm
Chief Executive Officer


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