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Newsletter | 12 December 2016

In this edition


Education department urged to use its powers to help victims of VET FEE-HELP shams

The Commonwealth Department of Education and Training (DET) is being too passive in its efforts to get redress on behalf of the victims of the failed VET FEE-HELP scheme, according to former senior bureaucrat Mark Warburton.

He argues that the department and the regulators have not fully addressed the likelihood that the massive student sign-ups to courses constituted a "sham", with none of the normal legal rights and obligations associated with enrolling in a course of study.

"It is quite clear that the Commonwealth can disregard a ‘sham’ enrolment and that would mean there was no entitlement to VET FEE-HELP, no payment due to a provider and no debt for the student," his report says.

The paper, 'The VET FEE-HELP debacle: Helping its victims and lessons for administration' argues that while action by the ACCC against errant providers is important, DET needs to use fully its powers to help the victims.

"It was in part passive administration that led to the problem in the first place," he says.

He is also critical of MPs who simply agree that the problems were "systemic and the policy was naïve".

"Both of the major parties are fearful that blame for the debacle will stick to them. Each side has mud that can be slung at the other and both sides know some of it might stick," the report says.

Increased revenue for VET in 2015

Operating revenue for government-funded VET increased by 13.6% in 2015, with a 24.4% increase since 2011, according to NCVER.

However, government expenditure on training through departments and public providers remains almost 10% below 2011 levels, and includes a 76% decrease in payments for infrastructure capital between 2011 and 2015.

A large proportion of the growth comes from VET FEE-HELP loans, with a 76% increase since 2014 for students training at non-government providers.

In addition to an increase in loans, students have seen a 19% increase in fees and charges since 2014, and a 63% rise since 2011.

Since 2011, the share of federal funding for VET increased by 46% with a corresponding 10% decrease in the share of state/territory government funding. This has resulted in federal funding now making up nearly half of total operating revenue, compared to 28% in 2011.

See more.

TAFE market share increases in Victoria

The market share of TAFE in Victoria increased from 36.3% to 42% in the first six months of 2016, according to the Victorian Training Market Half Year Report 2016.

The report, released by the Department of Education and Training, shows that over the same period, the market share of private training providers fell from 52.6% to 46.1%.

The number of program enrolments in Victoria's TAFE system fell by 3% to 110,768, while in the private market, enrolments fell 26% to 121,000.

There were 243,000 students enrolled in government funded training in the first half of 2016, a 13.6 per cent decline on 2015.

For the first time, the report draws predominantly on data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), rather than solely on Victorian training data.

See the Victorian Training Market Half Year Report 2016.

Quick turnaround needed for course additions under new student loans scheme

The Department of Education and Training issued last Thursday its detailed outline of the requirements for Listed and Not‑for‑Profit providers that want additional courses made eligible under the new student loan program.

Providers would need to show evidence of employment outcomes for additional courses, as well as their track record of student progression and completion.

The requirements are in response to guarantees sought in the Senate by the Nick Xenophon team senators.

The deadline for responses was midnight last night.

See more

New board members for TAFE Queensland

New appointments to the board of TAFE Queensland took effect on 1 December, following approval by the Governor.

The CEO of TAFE Queensland Jodi Schmidt said that incoming chair Annabel Dolphin would bring significant experience from her previous and current board roles and leadership positions across the private, government and resources sectors.

Joining Annabel as new board members are Shaun Coffey, Louise Cox, Deborah Wilson and Noela L’Estrange.

"Existing Board Members Peter Price and Peter Dowling will continue on as members and will provide an invaluable link to the large body of work commenced by our inaugural Board," Ms Schmidt said.

Thanks and best wishes to TDA's Melinda Waters

After five years working as a consultant and staff member at TDA, our Director Technical and Tertiary Education, Dr Melinda Waters is moving on from TDA at the end of this year.

During her time with us, TDA and its members have benefited greatly from Melinda’s work, particularly in policy development and her collaborative work facilitating applied research, innovation and higher education in TAFE.

Melinda has an ideal VET policy background, having come to TAFE from a successful business career in the hospitality industry. She worked as a teacher and senior manager in TAFE in head of faculty, business development and innovation roles.

Before joining TDA, she worked with the VET Development Centre in Melbourne on workforce development strategies with a particular interest in applied research and scholarship in TAFE.

More recently, Melinda completed a Doctor of Education from the University of Melbourne which investigated innovation in teaching and learning in VET; an academic area she is now keen to pursue.

We will miss Melinda’s contribution both at the intellectual level and as a wonderful team member and look forward to her continued interest and participation in the education and training sector.

Minister Birmingham keen to increase skills engagement with India

The Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham has expressed keen interest in broadening Australia’s skill engagement and partnerships with India.

"Australia deeply values its close and productive bilateral skills relationship with India and both nations share much in common with skills collaborations," the minister said at the Australia India Leadership Dialogue 2016 in Melbourne last week.

"In a bilateral sense, we’re also doing substantial work with India on the development of international occupational standards to support greater shared understanding of skills and mobility in skills for industry across country borders," he said.

"We have been delighted to see that Australia’s Kangan Institute is working with India’s Government of Gujarat and Maruti Suzuki to build India’s first international Automobile Centre of Excellence” he said.

He that Australia’s VET system is well designed to assist India in meeting its target of skilling 400 million people by 2022.

See an article in India's The Economic Times

A name change for Group Training Australia

Group Training Australia is to be known as the National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN).

The peak body for the national group training network says the change better reflects its activities in matching apprentices and trainees to employers around Australia.

The National Executive Officer of NAEN Ms Lauren Tiltman said the organisation is the largest network employer of apprentices and trainees, with some 25,000 in work, while it represents around 100 group training organisations nationally.

“I am delighted that the group training network enters this new phase with a new look and identity that will equip it to meet the needs of members, employers and stakeholders," Ms Tiltman said.

See NAEN's media release.

TAFE partners celebrate automotive training award

TAFE Queensland's SkillsTech, Sydney TAFE and Kangan Institute's Automotive Centre of Excellence shared in the accolades as industry partners in the award-winning Mentored Apprenticeship Program, known as NISSMAP.

The initiative won the Australian Apprenticeships - Employer Award at the Australian Training Awards.

NISSMAP was developed by WPC Group and Nissan to offer Nissan dealers a turnkey solution to addressing their skills needs. 

It offers an accelerated apprenticeship qualification that is delivered in state-of-the-art training facilities, in conjunction with the Nissan Learning Academy and TAFE. 

The program has had over 140 participants and an 86% apprenticeship retention rate, significantly higher than the 49% industry average.

A happy Xmas from everyone at TDA

TDA extends the season's greetings to all its members, stakeholders and readers.

This will be the final edition of the TDA newsletter for 2016.

We look forward to resuming in 2017 and wish everyone a happy festive season and a wonderful New Year.

Diary Dates

2017 TDA Convention - Network TAFE
7 - 8 September, 2017
More information coming soon


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