TAFE Directors Australia

Supporting our member institutes since 1998

Newsletter 1 November 2010



TDA lead sponsor for inaugural regional development conference

The Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, joined with Federal Independent Rob Oakeshott MP, to call for an overhaul of how development proceeds in regional areas, to drive innovation and especially lift educational targets in regional centres.

National media and major agencies attended the inaugural Strategic Regional Leadership for the Future Conference, with TDA and regional TAFE Institutes as lead sponsors for the Port Macquarie event.

Mr. Oakeshott pointed to exceptionally low educational engagement, particularly at tertiary levels in Port Macquarie and nearby regional centres - standing at 12% against a national average of 25%, and compared with the Bradley targets of 40%. He called on regional leaders to begin new linkages beyond current 'norms' to bring more dynamic engagement of youth and older Australians in education, and particularly to make use of the $9.1billionpackage of measures regional independent MPs achieved in their deal to support the Gillard Government.

Mr. Crean said the advent of the NBN should be used by regional leaders to begin a new level of cross sector engagement across health, education, and essential services.    

Minister Simon Crean and Independent MP, Rob Oakeshott at the conference

Elizabeth McGregor, Institute Director of North Coast Institute of TAFE NSW and Acting Chair of Regional Development Australia (Mid North Coast) said the convergence of the Federal Minister, with Mr. Oakeshott, and key regional leadership was a unique chance to seize new opportunities in education and local innovation.

Dr Ruth Schubert, Director, Education Programs and Services, TAFE SA Regional, was a guest speaker at the Leadership Forum, and tabled a detailed paper. Dr Schubert said it was important that the Commonwealth respond by extending wider educational options for regional students at institutions, including Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) given the wider footprint and equity reach of TAFE in regional Australia.    

Click here to see Dr Schubert’s paper. 

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TDA seeks member response to Skills Australia paper

TDA invites members to contribute to a formal response to the recently released Skills Australia Discussion Paper, Creating a future direction for Australian vocational education and training.

The paper draws on a wide range of sources to provide support for its key messages, and examines issues including VET’s mission, governance, quality, funding, and the apprenticeship system. See a key issues summary sheet here.

According to Robin Shreeve, CEO Skills Australia, “there are great strengths in the sector, it has a strong backbone, but in terms of meeting the challenges of the future, we ask whether something more radical is required”.

This is a significant paper for the TAFE sector, and members are urged to contribute to the TDA response via the attached template. TDA recognises the scope of the issues involved, so members may choose to respond to all questions, or simply those they feel most passionate about.

Skills Australia has called for responses by 26 November. It would be greatly appreciated if members could send their response to Pam Caven by 15 November.

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New analysis target TAFE efficiency

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research has compared the efficiency of Australia’s 58 TAFE Institutes, and found that ‘size matters’, with both very small and very large Institutes having lower efficiency.

The paper uses a mathematical technique to compare Institutes with their peers, taking into account size and environmental factors, to demonstrate that the degree of remoteness has the greatest impact on overall efficiency.

According to the analysis, 17 Institutes are rated as ‘efficient’ relative to their peers.

View the entire paper here.

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International student strategy released 

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Jobs, Skills and Workplace Relations, Senator the Hon Chris Evans has released the COAG-endorsed International Student Strategy for Australia. While the intent and scope of the strategy sends a positive message to international students, and reflects the concerns of education providers, there will be much work required from both government and industry to ensure real and effective changes occur.

Financial commitment to community engagement, effective oversight of re-registration and new registration of providers, and the on-going viability of Tuition Assurance Schemes are just some of the areas which require immediate action. The coordination and implementation of government policy across a range of State and Federal departments, including DEEWR, DIAC, Trade and Foreign Affairs also requires significant improvement - something which the strategy fails to address.   

Click here to view the strategy.

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Minister Evans leads Chinese delegation

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator the Hon Chris Evans, has highlighted the importance of the international student sector, and will lead a high-level university delegation to China this week. 

In a speech at the University of Canberra, Senator Evans acknowledged that issues currently facing the sector – including the strength of the Australian dollar, increased competitor activity and recently implemented immigration integrity measures – had contributed to a downturn in student enrolments.  

He said the government and the sector must work together to confront these issues to build long-term improvements in quality and sustainability.

TDA continues to make representations to the Federal government to ensure Chinese students are encouraged to study with TAFE in Australia, and to see that the strong relationships between our TAFE Institutes and the Chinese vocational colleges are actively promoted and supported.  

View a media release here, and the full transcript of the speech here.

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TAFE student fees rise dramatically

Fees for TAFE students have risen considerably in the past four years, with students paying almost $300 million in fees during 2009, according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) data shows that in the four years to 2009, fees increased by approximately $15 million in Victoria and Queensland and $6 million in New South Wales. The increases come at a time of declining state and federal funding for vocational education and training.  

To view an article from The Australian article click here.  View the NCVER data here.

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Higher education funding under review

The Federal Government has appointed an expert panel to review higher education base funding following the Bradley Review recommendations.

The Panel will investigate public investment in the sector and determine the funding needed to remain competitive. The panel will report back to the government by October 2011. To view the list of panel members and the terms of reference click here.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government has released its Tertiary Education Access Plan, and urged the Federal Government to extend Commonwealth undergraduate funding to TAFEs and other approved providers. See the plan here. View an article in The Australian here.

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NCVER review of Quality Indicators

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has been conducting a review of the AQTF Quality Indicators, on behalf of the National Quality Council. Part of this review involved consultation with key stakeholders, in particular, those directly involved with the interpretation and application of the Quality Indicators.

Specifically the key objectives of the project were to:

  • evaluate the effectiveness of the AQTF quality indicators, in terms of their usefulness to regulators and registered training organisations;
  • evaluate the reliability of the data for enhancing an RTOs' training and business performance;
  • determine what is working well and what is not, and;
  • identify improvement opportunities and future direction for the indicators.

TDA and the Victorian TAFE Association held a joint consultation with members and invited written member input. They submitted to NCVER the attached consultation summary which identifies strengths, weaknesses and suggested improvements for the quality indicators and their implementation by RTOs.

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Migration reform results

The Federal Government has released its 2009-10 Report on Migration which outlines the effectiveness of migration reforms in filling local skills gaps.

The report shows those entering under the skilled migrations program made up 64% of the total 169,000 migrants for 2009-10.

Across all permanent skilled visa categories, the top three occupations were accountants, computing professionals, and registered nurses, while the top three countries of citizenship for these categories were the United Kingdom, India and China.

Click here for more information.

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Employers recognised in Minister’s Awards for Excellence

The Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Apprenticeships were presented by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Jobs, Skills and Workplace Relations, Senator the Hon Chris Evans in Canberra last week.

The awards recognise the contribution of employers and other individuals towards the training and development of apprentices and trainees.

View the announcement of the winners here.

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Older workers under the spotlight

The most, and least, educated workers are those likely to work beyond the age of 65, according to new research published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The three-year research program finds the participation rate of workers over 65 years has increased - a fact that reflects the increased number of women in the labour market.

For more information, click here.

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New AUSTAFE representatives announced

AUSTAFE has announced its new National Executive, which was determined at the AGM held in Sydney.

To view the new State and Territory representatives, as well as the Office Bearers click here.

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English language test participants exceed 25 million

The number of students who have taken the TOEFL (English language) test has reached 25 million, which according to the creator of the test, Educational Testing Service (ETS), makes it the most globally recognised English language assessment.

Read the latest press release from the ETS here.

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 Diary Dates

Research Forum - Fostering enterprise: The innovational and skills nexus
DATE: 9 November 2010
LOCATION: Australian Technology Park, Sydney
DETAILS: Click here for more information

Has institutional research come of age in Australiasia?
DATE: 10-12 November 2010
LOCATION: Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Geelong
DETAILS: Click here for more information

DATE: 13-15 November 2010
LOCATION: Birmingham, UK
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Buidling sustainability through marketing
DATE: 10-11 November 2010
LOCATION: Rydges Hotel, Brisbane
DETAILS: Register for conference or enter awards online at www.atmaltd.org.au

2010 Australian Youth Mentoring Conference

DATE: 10-11 November 2010
LOCATION: Radisson Resort, Gold Coast
DETAILS: Click here for more information

World Innovation Summit for Education
DATE: 7-9 December 2010
LOCATION: Sheraton Resort, Doha, Qatar
DETAILS: Click here for more information 

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