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Newsletter | 12 January 2015

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In this edition  


Crackdown starts on rogue training brokers

The new federal minister responsible for vocational education and training (VET) has warned of a crackdown on rogue training brokers that has now come into effect.

The Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham said the government is taking decisive and coordinated action to stop the exploitation of students.

“Stories abound of people being stopped on the street and offered incentives including cash payments to sign-up for a course they don’t need,” he said.

"As the new minister I intend to do all possible to ensure training is of the highest quality so that students and potential employers can enjoy confidence in our training system.”

Under new standards, training providers and their brokers must provide clear information about any VET-FEE HELP loans, state entitlements and subsidy arrangements that they sign students up to.

Training providers are ultimately responsible for services delivered by brokers on their behalf. More than 4,000 existing training providers have until 1 April to comply with the new standards.

See more.

Inquiry looming into VET FEE-HELP

A formal examination of the misuse of VET FEE-HELP is likely following confirmation that the Auditor-General will seek to place the matter on its priority list.

Shadow Higher Education Minister Kim Carr and Shadow Vocational Education Minister Sharon Bird wrote to the Auditor-General last November following media, industry and ASQA reports on unscrupulous behaviour and the misuse of VET FEE-HELP in the VET sector.

Senator Carr and Ms Bird said last week that they have received advice that the Auditor-General has requested that a performance audit of VET FEE-HELP be included in the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) 2015-2016 work program.

“It is imperative that taxpayer funds are spent on quality training and that students are not incurring debts for poor-quality or unsuitable courses,” they said.

”VET FEE-HELP should be not a pot of money that dodgy operators use to lure and exploit our youth.”

International education policy update

With all education sectors now included in the renamed Federal Department of Education and Training, TDA looks forward to a more streamlined approach to international education policy.

The end of 2014 saw a flurry of discussion papers and reviews. TDA’s responses to the Reform of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, the review of streamlined visa processing, and aid investment plans for five countries in South East Asia are now on the website.

Further consultations on the reform of ESOS are scheduled for early February.  

TDA also responded to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Reviewing the Skilled Migration and 400 Series Visa Programmes discussion paper. All submissions can be found here.

In December 2014, the Department released a second Proposal Paper: Simplification of the skilled migration and temporary activity visa programmes, encompassing the proposed framework and issues for consideration.

Submissions are due by 30 January and expressions of interest in attending consultative forums should be sent to the review mailbox at:  smdt@immi.gov.au

Kangan Institute first to receive new Victorian funding

The new Labor government in Victoria has committed the first $20 million of its $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund to assisting the Bendigo Kangan Institute.

The Minister for Training and Skills, Steve Herbert, said Bendigo Kangan Institute was one of seven TAFEs eligible for fast tracked funding from the fund.

He said the funds would help TAFEs in financial turmoil to stay afloat, so they can retain staff and improve training, courses and job opportunities for students.

The funding is in addition to the government’s $7.8 million investment in a new, state-of-the-art agriculture centre at the Institute’s Bendigo campus.

New federal-state deal urged for VET funding

The federal and state governments have been urged to consider a new funding arrangement for vocational education and training to fix the inequities faced by non-university students, according to an article in The Australian.

In the article, Professor Peter Noonan from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute says a “tertiary education entitlement” across the VET sector would require a new federal deal with the states but could create a more ­coherent model for education.

TDA Acting Chief Executive Malcolm White warns of a situation where VET providers may be forced to lower quality to meet the reduced funding available.

“There needs to be a more equal system, especially for TAFE students doing diplomas and advanced diplomas,” he says in the article.

See the article, ‘Trades training left short $16bn’ in The Australian.

New faces to lead South Australia’s training sector

TAFE SA has announced Robin Murt (pictured) as its new CEO, following an extensive search.

Mr Murt is the former Chief Operating Officer for the Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

He also has extensive experience in the vocational education and training sector, with TAFE SA and the then Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology.

The South Australian government has also appointed two new members to the State’s Training and Skills Commission.

Anthony Kittel will be the new Deputy Chair of the Commission and Melinda O’Leary will become a member.

TDA international engagement

After an extremely busy and productive 2014, TDA is finalising arrangements for a number of significant events and projects for 2015. These include:

  • Continuation of our Taiwan consultancy and teacher training programs
  • Mentoring programs for TVET leaders from India, Myanmar and China
  • Work plans for our research centre in China, in partnership with the China Institute for Vocational Training and Education
  • Procurement training in Indonesia
  • Implementation plans and mobilisation for the delivery of training in Kazakhstan
  • A schedule of activities to support our recent cooperation agreements with three institutions in India
  • On-going coordination of the UNESCO-UNEVOC Pacific region cluster
  • On-going support for the World Federation of Colleges & Polytechnics including a lead role in their Higher Education Affinity Group
  • On-going support for our International Higher Education Network and our Australian TAFE International Network

We are participating in the third East Asia TVET Network conference in Malaysia in early February and planning a major mission to Brazil to coincide with the International World Skills Competition in August.

TDA members will also be invited to participate in a workshop in Melbourne on 4 March to guide the development of our strategic plans for 2015 – 2018. In mid-March our International Manager, Jessica Davis, takes up her Endeavour Fellowship Awards in Bonn Germany for three months and will be hosted by UNESCO-UNEVOC.

TDA members are encouraged to contact TDA for further details of current and planned activities.

Immigration Department helps identify “genuine” international students

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has compiled sources of publicly available information to assist education providers in recruiting genuine students.

It covers some of the key source markets for international students and contains links and information to help providers assess the veracity of claims and documentation provided in support of clients’ student visa applications.

See the ‘Combined Country Specific Open Source Information and Links’.

TDA meets with TEQSA Commissioners

As part of TEQSA’s regular engagement with peak bodies, representatives from TDA met with TEQSA Commissioners in December 2014 to discuss the provision of higher education in TAFE.

The Acting Chief Commissioner Professor Nick Saunders, Emeritus Professor Cliff Walsh, Commissioner Michael Wells and TEQSA staff Tricia Roessler and Karen Treloar met with TDA’s Acting CEO, Malcolm White, Maxine Courtier (Holmesglen) and Melinda Waters (TDA). 

TDA appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback on TEQSA’s regulatory approach and on a draft TEQSA Corporate Plan for 2015-19.  Once finalised in early 2015, the new Corporate Plan will be made available to the sector.

TDA also outlined the achievements of the national TAFE Higher Education Network in 2014 and the results of a national student survey undertaken in October.  The survey demonstrates that higher education students value the applied nature of learning in TAFE and are highly satisfied with the educational experience. 

TEQSA confirmed the value they place on these regular meetings with TDA and emphasised the importance to them of receiving updates on TDA and sector initiatives, as well as receiving feedback on TEQSA regulatory approaches.  They committed to further scheduled meetings with TDA in 2015.

Industry Skills Fund applications about to open

The first tranche of the federal government’s new $476 million Industry Skills Fund – the Growth Stream – will open for applications next week.

The Growth Stream aims to generate 200,000 training places and support services, and is largely aimed at SMEs, including micro businesses.

Funding is on a co-contribution basis and is available to individual businesses and consortia, who may be led by groups including peak bodies, industry associations, not-for-profit organisations, large businesses, Industry Skills Councils, regional bodies and community organisations.

See more.

Vacancy for Policy Director at TDA

An opportunity will shortly become available at TDA in the role of Director, Policy.  

This full time position may be located in either Sydney or Canberra (negotiable).  

As an initial step, please contact Member Services on email: memberservices@tda.edu.au or phone 02 9217 3180 to obtain a Candidate Information Package.  

Applications close 6th February 2015.

Diary Dates

Victoria University
Financial Sustainability in VET

DATE: 25-26 February 2015
LOCATION: Victoria University City Convention Centre, Melbourne
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Australian Workplace Practitioners’ Network
Foundation Skills at Work

DATE: 18-20 March 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne, Victoria
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

18th Annual Conference

DATE: 8-10 April 2015
LOCATION: The Rendezvous Grand, Melbourne
DETAILS: More information.

National Congress & Expo

DATE: 2 & 3 June 2015
LOCATION: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Western Sydney Careers Expo
DATE: 18-21 June 2015
LOCATION: Showground, Sydney Olympic Park
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

‘No Frills’ conference

DATE: 6-8 July 2015
LOCATION: University of Western Sydney
DETAILS: More information.

VET Development Centre
Teaching and Learning Conference

DATE: 3-4 September 2015
LOCATION: RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
DETAILS: More information.

National VET Conference
Velg Training

DATE: 17-18 September 2015
LOCATION: Adelaide Convention Centre
DETAILS: More information.