Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

A busy week in the sector

Monday, July 20 2015

The last week saw some further developments in the on-going debate in vocational education and training.

ACPET appeared at the Senate Inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational educational and training providers in Australia.

The inquiry focussed on issues in the sector including suggested inadequate regulation, the role and regulation of brokers and the performance of RTOs. We took the opportunity to explain the real difference private providers do make in the sector and how a quality provider can deliver a high end product to the benefit of students and industry.

ACPET will continue to advocate strongly in these types of inquiries to ensure politics and bias do not get in the way of a genuine policy debate, and to try and ensure a balanced approach to public policy. A big thanks to Neil Shilbury and Martin Powell for their help in the session, and also to Amjad Khanche of the Australian Institute of Professional Education for his submission and appearance. Amjad’s explanation of the tremendous support strategies given to students, as their College’s point of difference was particularly compelling, as was his description of the difference between a Mercedes and Toyota in describing education choices! Well done!

The week also saw the release of the Victorian Government’s Funding Review. An interesting read indeed.

It is important to note that this is an issues paper and not government policy. That may explain some of the views in the document, however there is a real opportunity to now focus on the consultation questions in the paper, which perhaps give an insight into possible directions. We will certainly be scrutinising the paper closely and will respond to the questions with the view to influencing the final direction. We remain steadfastly committed to supporting reputable providers to deliver quality vocational education and training. More red tape and bureaucracy will not help outcomes. However, strategic market design, monitoring and risk based regulation will.

We look forward to the on-going discussions.

Last week NMU reported ACPET participation in education missions to both Germany and China.

The  German mission, led by Minister Corman, saw considerable discussions with government, industry, training providers peak bodies and enterprises. The mission culminated in discussions on VET opportunities at the Ministerial roundtable with the German authorities. I am told there is a genuine agreement to work on a mutual recognition arrangement between Australian and German qualifications.

A good first step and one that may help international providers in endeavours to deliver Australian qualifications that will be recognised in Germany.

The Chinese mission, led by Assistant Minister Simon Birmingham, also was very active in pushing the real value of Australia’s vocational education and training sector in China. We will report more news later, however this was an important delegation for VET to follow up the Free Trade Agreement, which will open doors for Non-University Higher Education Providers.

Today also sees the release of the latest report from Mitchell Institute. The report Feasibility and design of a tertiary education entitlement in Australia, prepared by Dr Tim Higgins and Professor Bruce Chapman, two of Australia’s leading experts on the design of income contingent loans, presents the modelling and costing of a universal income contingent loan scheme. The Mitchell Institute commissioned Higgins and Chapman to prepare the report following the release of its issues paper, Financing tertiary education in Australia – the reform imperative and rethinking student entitlements, in February 2015 by Mitchell Professorial Fellow Peter Noonan and Mitchell Policy Analyst, Sarah Pilcher.

The February paper proposed the potential expansion of Australia’s successful income contingent loan scheme to all Australian tertiary students from Certificate III upwards as part of a new model for tertiary education funding across the Commonwealth and state governments. This latest report presents the outcomes of various financial modelling, of the potential costs of applying an income contingent loan scheme to include all tertiary education students.

Rod Camm


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