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Newsletter | 11 July 2016

In this edition

The latest from on the federal election

...the rest of the week's news


Coalition majority firms, but education and skills portfolio uncertain

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is edging toward a narrow majority government as the election count progresses, but the outlook for the tertiary education sector is far from certain.

The latest count suggests a very narrow Coalition majority, with 76 or 77 seats, but the assurance of support from several crossbrenchers.

In the vocational education and training (VET) sector, there is a good deal of uncertainty, with the Coalition's main election commitment resting on its plan for reform of the scandal-ridden VET FEE-HELP scheme.

Still to be addressed is the fate of some $500 million in Commonwealth National Partnership funding to the states, due to expire mid-2017. The Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Senator Scott Ryan told TAFE Futures magazine that "a re-elected Turnbull Coalition government will commence discussions with the states and territories on future Commonwealth funding for vocational education and training."

Also still on the agenda is a COAG proposal for a federal takeover of VET, notwithstanding Minister Ryan's publicly-voiced doubts about such a plan proceeding.

In higher education, the Coalition plans to put the sector under a review although that will now be subject to the influence of the large group of independents and crossbenchers, on which legislation rests.

Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University told The Australian that the close result meant that structural reform in higher education was unlikely in the next three-year term.

"Whoever eventually wins will have a mandate for nothing," he said.

Change in the tertiary education portfolio is also looming. While the prime minister has assured he will stick with his current frontbench, replacements are needed for several fallen ministers, likely to include the former Minister for International Education, Senator Richard Colebeck, while a limited ministerial re-shuffle is also likely.

TAFE chairs seek government commitment to skills funding

TAFE Chairs from around Australia have called on the federal Coalition to heed the election "wake-up call" and commit to skills and education as top policy priorities.

Meeting in Sydney last week, TAFE Chairs joined with TDA in seeking high level talks with the incoming government to address the skills funding and policy gap.

Warren Tapp, Chair of the TAFE Chairs, said commitments would be sought from newly elected MPs and Senators, to swing support to a priority on skills and vocational education.

“The incoming government needs to clearly show that the National Partnership Agreement on funding for skills would be renewed beyond 30 June next year.

"TAFE systems would be at great risk unless this commitment is made loud and clear, and quickly," he said.

Martin Riordan, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia, said TAFEs would be seeking an early commitment from the incoming government to extend much-depleted shared funding by Canberra with states and territories for skills and trade training.

Left to right: Nick Burrows, Chair, TasTAFE; Martin Riordan, CEO, TAFE Directors Australia; Craig Sloan, Chair of board, Canberra Institute of Technology; Warren Tapp, Chair of TAFE Chairs and Chair of TAFE Queensland; Peter Vaughan, Chair, TAFE South Australia; Terry Charlton, Chair, TAFE NSW; and Andrew Williamson, CEO of the Victorian TAFE Association, representing chairs of Victorian TAFE Institutes.

International education sector braces for Hanson impact

The return of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party is likely to have an immediate and dramatic impact on Australia's $19.5 billion international education sector, experts have warned.

Sharon Bell, an honorary professor at Australian National University, told The Australian that Ms Hanson had expressed worrying views about Islam that, combined with her past statements, could threaten international enrolments.

"That will have a devastating impact on international education. The sector is in for a massive shock," Ms Bell said.

Phil Honeywood, executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, said Ms Hanson had single-handedly trashed Australia’s reputation as an international study destination in the 1990s.

“In 1996-97, the overwhelming feedback from Asian education leaders was why should they send students to Australia when it was developing racist and anti-Asian policies," Mr Honeywood said.

Analysis shows TAFE a sleeper issue in election outcome

An analysis of voter attitudes conduced by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age has revealed that funding of vocational education and TAFE was one of the top issues on the minds of voters in the federal election.

The post-election analysis by the Fairfax YourVote survey of 270,000 responses across 30 issues confirmed the strong consensus support for TAFE.

The proposition that "The government should increase Commonwealth funding of public vocational education (eg TAFE)" received 77% positive support.

It was the fourth top ranked issue, after stronger penalties for multinational tax avoidance, legalised euthanasia, and the need for a national corruption body.

The analysis notes that the lack of alignment between voters' attitudes and that of the major parties shows why the election outcome was so close.

Election campaign tally - what the major parties promised

Liberal-National Coalition

Youth Jobs PaTH Programme
A $752 million program that aims to help young job seekers gain skills and internships, leading to jobs including apprenticeships.

Redesign of VET FEE-HELP
A discussion paper has proposed a range of options to take effect in 2017, supported by a $10 million education campaign.

Extension of P-TECH 
$4.6 million has been promised for 12 new pilot P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) sites to promote STEM skills.

Higher education 
Reforms including fee deregulation and improved equity for TAFE higher education students have been put on hold pending an expert committee that will make recommendations later this year.


Ten new polytechnics
$430 million for 10 pilot sites for ta new tier of higher education institutes - Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education - combining TAFE, university, industry and government, delivering Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees.

Guaranteed TAFE funding 
A National Priority Plan that defines the unique role of TAFE, rebalances contestable funding, and works with states and territories to provide "ongoing guaranteed TAFE funding".

VET sector review
A promised review of the VET sector that, Labor says, will be the first since the Kangan review in 1974.

An $8,000 per year cap on all VET FEE-HELP student loans, with a ministerial exemption for some high cost courses such as nursing and engineering.

Apprentice quota
One in ten jobs on priority federally-funded infrastructure projects to be apprentices, creating 2,600 new apprenticeships.

'Apprentice Ready' is a 20-week,pre-apprenticeship course for trades on the National Skills Needs List, delivered through TAFEs that Labor says will offer 10,000 apprenticeships,

Mature age apprenticeships
A pilot of a National Skills Recognition Entitlement program with 5,000 places to help mature-aged, retrenched workers fast-track into apprenticeships.

Group training funding
$10 million a year over four years to group training organisations.

Apprentice advocate & portal
An apprentice advocate to address quality and training issues, and a portal, Apprenticeships Connect, that will link apprentices to employers.

Guaranteed training
Unemployed youth to be guaranteed a fully funded Certificate III under the Working Futures employmemnt program.

Tools for Your Trade
The reintroduction of Tools for Your Trade payments of up to $3000 to apprentices, costing $285 million.

Higher education 
The demand driven system to continue and Labor to create the Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to promote university efficiency.

...the rest of the week's news

Government-funded training slumps, according to latest figures

The number of people enrolled in government-funded training fell 11% to 1.6 million in 2015, reaching its lowest level since 2004, according to the latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The fall occurred in all states and territories, with the exception of Queensland, which saw a modest rise.

Of the 1.6 million students in government-funded training last year:

  • 1.2 million were Commonwealth or state-funded students
  • 373 100 were fee-for-service students at TAFE and other government providers (where the training was paid for by the student or an employer).

Comparing 2015 with 2014, enrolments at TAFE fell by 13% and hours of delivery fell by 19%.

Consultants give thumbs-up to NSW 'Smart and Skilled' program

A new study has delivered a largely positive finding about the impact of the NSW government's 'Smart and Skilled' training program.

The second part of a two-stage review by the Nous Group says that Smart and Skilled has delivered on the majority of its key objectives, and it has recommended only minor refinements to the scheme.

In regard to NSW TAFE, the report says it remains "a strong and viable public provider" and says it has performed better than other providers under the financial caps imposed for the delivery of government subsidised training.

Nous says there is no evidence that higher student fees were responsible for the recent decline in student commencements.

However, it says that the "loading" for disadvantaged students is insufficient for those with very complex needs.

The report makes 32 recommendations, including progress toward partial deregulation, but says that "reform fatigue" in NSW means such a step should be progressed in a staged manner.

2016 Australian Training Awards – 17 November – register now

Australia’s best apprentices, trainees, VET teacher/trainers, vocational students, businesses, industry partnerships, secondary schools and registered training organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to skilling Australia will gather in Darwin on Thursday 17 November at 7:00 pm for the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

The majority of the awards are the culmination of the state and territory awards with winners from aligned categories in each state and territory eligible to compete at the national level. There are also seven award categories available by entering directly to the Australian Training Awards.

To book tickets for the presentation event visit the Australian Training Awards website or email:

For real time updates on the night, you can find the Australian Training Awards on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube.

Diary Dates

VETnetwork Australia
Biennial National Conference
27- 28 July, 2016
Gold Coast
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
18 - 19 August, 2016
More information

NSW TAFE Managers Association
26 August, 2016
Taronga Zoo, Sydney
More information coming soon.

National Skills Week 2016
29 August – 4 September, 2016
More Information

VET Development Centre Teaching & Learning Conference
1 - 2 September, 2016
RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
More information

National VET Conference 
Velg Training
14 – 16 September, 2016
Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre
More information

LH Martin Institute
Innovation Eco-systems: Study Mission to Italy and the Netherlands
21-30 September 2016
More information

TDA 2016 Convention – Skills Resurgence
4 - 6 October, 2016
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, Melbourne, Victoria
More information

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Conference
4-7 October, 2016
Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart  
More information

2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition
6 - 8 October, 2016
Melbourne Showgrounds
More information
Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) Conference  
12-15 October, 2016
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
More information
Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) Conference
9-12 October, 2016
Pullman Hotel Auckland, New Zealand
More information

ACER National Adult Training and Assessment Conference
13-14 October, 2016
William Angliss Institute, Melbourne
More information

Australian Training Awards
17 November, 2016
Darwin, Northern Territory
More information


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