Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Eventful Week in the Sector

Monday, August 10 2015

Last week saw the Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Andrew Robb’s International Education Roundtable.

The Roundtable brought together industry leaders to help build a strategy that would see a comprehensive new approach to building International Education. Of course this is the start and not the end. Making a real difference will require a fundamentally different approach across all levels of government and the various components of industry. I look forward to ongoing consultation with our industry.

The week also saw further negative reports about practices in the industry. I have no doubt poor behaviour is at the margins, however, that is no longer the point. We have worked hard to ensure ACPET stands for quality and for improving standards across our members.

This work is far from complete, but we should recognise what has been achieved.

The Code of Ethics and Code of Practice are important.

The self assessment process, including actual peer review of key elements of quality education will increasingly become an important element to assuring the capacity of members, and to identifying areas for improvement. A genuine self assessment must be seen as a pre condition to continuing membership.

To guide the process we have established an independent Quality and Ethics Committee, comprised of Industry luminaries. The committee is chaired by former head of Queensland’s Training and Employment Commission, Mr Barry Nutter. Barry is joined on the committee by long standing leaders of our industry including David Windridge, Kathleen Newcombe, Bruce Callaghan and Alexis Watt.

The committee will oversight what steps we need to take, in terms of policy and practice improvement and sanctions where required to build our standing.

My highest priority is how to protect the reputation of our quality colleges. We represent outstanding small and large Colleges who all get dragged into the mire. As an industry association, we must demand a well-resourced regulator with genuine teeth. We must also understand what the key indicators of quality are. As a start they include:

• Student engagement and satisfaction
• Student support
• Teacher and trainer quality in both training and assessment
• Assessment that meets the needs of industry, and
• Quality facilities.

These are but a few, but what is quickly evident is that one can not judge these criteria from afar. You can though develop a real sense of a College’s bona fides by meeting, talking to and evaluating these elements.

We have already introduced visiting new applicants for membership where required, to develop confidence about their suitability. It is apparent that this may not be enough.

It may be time to re-evaluate our entire membership to develop a genuine and deep appreciation of their capability and ethics.

Of course, this is also not enough. Quality organisations and membership associations have a real commitment to professional development (PD), as a platform for the association. I recognise that many of our members already participate both with us and other organisations.

While ACPET notionally has PD ‘points’, a further element to a broadened quality approach is to ensure, as a component of membership, that organisations participate in a high quality, valuable PD program. This also helps establish relationships and knowledge of member organisations.

This is only my reflection and is not yet reality and still requires more thought in developing a framework. Many members have approached me to encourage an intervention. If you have a view please let us know.

The message is simple – it is up to us as the industry to fix this. It is not up to anyone else.

Where have I heard that before?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” -  Barack Obama.

Rod Camm


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