Prior to the 2019 federal election the Coalition released the Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training that set out a series of recommendations that will affect the vocational education and training sector; however, there were few policy announcements affecting the higher education sector.
Key Issues —
In late 2019 the Australian Government set out to conduct a “health check” of the Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector to determine how ready it is to step up to the challenge of training more Australians, now and in the future.
The Independent Tertiary Education Council (ITECA), as the peak body representing independent providers in the higher education, vocational education and training sector, submitted a comprehensive submission to the review and welcomed the reviewed and its recommendations.
During the consultation process ITECA sought:
- The introduction of one national tertiary education system bringing higher education and VET together in an equal partnership
- A student-centred education and training model that enables students to select a provider of their choice
- Nationally consistent policy, program and funding settings in VET
- New arrangements for qualification development
- Removal of the 25% loan fee for independent providers
- Improved engagement with the National Regulator Australian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA)
In particular, ITECA supports the Commonwealth and the States and Territories to adopt a six point plan to improve the architecture of the vocational education system and grow its contribution to training Australians, including:
- strengthening quality assurance in VET
- speeding up qualifications development
- simpler funding and skills matching
- better careers information
- clearer secondary school pathways
- greater access for disadvantaged Australians.
ITECA urges caution with the recommendation in the Joyce Report that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) expand its auditing role to ranking providers on the quality of their educational offering and their management and increasing complexities in qualifications. ITECA does not support providing more powers to the National Regulator, which has failed to deliver consistent outcomes for students, providers, industry and governments.
ITECA supports the proposal to establish industry-owned and government-registered Skills Organisations to take responsibility for the qualification development process and recommends that provider representatives are include in governance arrangements. Providers must also have a voice in qualification development. ITECA does not support a role for the national regulator to develop qualifications.
For higher education providers, the reelected Coalition Government is likely to bring little in the way of change over the short to medium term. A good indicator of this is the absence of any new major policy or funding announcements for the higher education sector in the 2019 Australian Government or the federal election that followed shortly thereafter. ITECA will meet with the new Education Minster shortly after the Ministry is sworn in to discuss the need for reforms that support the independent higher education sector.
ITECA has established working relationships with several frontbenchers in the government and their key advisors. ITECA will continue to strongly advocate for reforms that recognise the track-record of the independent tertiary education sector in delivering quality outcomes for students and their employers.
Australia’s independent tertiary education system supports around 60% of the 4.2 million students in vocational training and there were 143,960 students nationally with independent higher education providers in 2017, a growth of 10% since 2015. This highlights the importance of ITECA’s work with the government as it’s the independent tertiary education sector that does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to providing students with quality education and training.
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Higher Education and Vocational Education Reference Committees.
For more information on this issue please send an email to email@example.com or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust .
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