As the fall-out from the COVID-19 outbreak and its management hits the independent tertiary education sector hard, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has made a direct approach to the Prime Minister to delay the 1 July 2020 introduction of full cost recovery for the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).
Key Issues —
ITECA’s engagement with members across the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors has clearly identified the fact that the COVID-19 situation threatens the sustainability of independent providers. In this context, ITECA has advised the Prime Minister that it is entirely inappropriate for the Australian Government to levy new fees and charges on independent tertiary education providers.
The fees and charges come in the form of an Australian Government decision to have higher education sector’s regulator, TEQSA, and the vocational education and training sector’s regulator, ASQA, move to full-cost recovery from 1 July 2020. This means that all costs incurred through the regulation of the tertiary education sector by TEQSA and ASQA must be met by the providers themselves.
ITECA’s advice to the Prime Minister underscored the importance of the independent tertiary education sector to provide business with the skilled workforce it needs. Further, the sector supports those in vocational education and training as they transition from one career to another. ITECA conveyed the experience of its members. They are facing some real challenges; challenges that genuinely threaten the sustainability of many sector participants in the wake of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In doing so, ITECA has strongly argued that the move of TEQSA and ASQA to full cost recovery should be delayed by twelve months, to 1 July 2021.
“Delaying the introduction of the financial impact that the transition of ASQA and TEQSA full-cost recovery will have by twelve months until 1 July 2021 will be a clear demonstration that the Australian Government recognises and supports the contribution made by the independent tertiary education sector and, in a practical sense, support the financial sustainability of the sector,” ITECA Chief Executive, Mr Troy Williams, has advised the Prime Minister.
Across Australia there are around 135 independent higher education providers and some 3,000 independent vocational education and training providers. ITECA has highlighted that the strength of Australia’s independent tertiary education sector can be found in the many small providers that have a track-record of offering students and their employers quality outcomes in niche disciplines. The government response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak will affect the viability of these small providers that lack the robust balance sheets and government backing of large public providers.
“The Australian Government initiative to support employers that engage apprentices and trainees is a welcome initiative that will support independent tertiary education providers in a small way; however, it aids only a small number of independent tertiary education providers. The delay of ASQA and TEQSA cost recovery will signal meaningful assistance for the entire sector,” ITECA told the Prime Minister.
To coordinate the support and guidance provided to members, the ITECA Covid-19 Education Response Taskgroup has been formed with the guidance of members across the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors plus representatives from each state / territory. Members with questions related to this matter are invited to contact the ITECA team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 421 017.
Member Engagement —
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 Reference Committee and the ITECA Vocational Education Reference Committee.
Further Information —
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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