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Newsletter | 18 January 2016

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In this edition  


Minister says student loans may be cut for courses of "dubious value"

The federal government is looking at narrowing the range of courses that are eligible for VET FEE-HELP.

In an interview on Sydney radio 2UE, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Luke Hartsuyker said the government was looking at curtailing public funding for courses of "dubious value".

"One of the things I will also be looking at in going forward is whether the particular courses that are being offered are appropriate to be funded by the taxpayer, so there will be a range of measures that will be taken into account when we implement the new system," the Minister said.

The measures are in addition to those that came into effect on January 1 to protect VET students from unscrupulous training providers.

The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham is also reported to be considering changing the repayment threshold for HECS loans as a means of making the higher education system more sustainable.

The Australian Financial Review says the option of reducing the HECS repayment threshold from about $54,000 a year is under active consideration.

New report says Indigenous higher education falling short 

The progress of Indigenous students into higher education is hampered by a policy and program disconnect across the education cycle, from early childhood through to post-school education, according to a report to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham.

The final advice of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council (ATSIHEAC) makes a number of recommendations to improve the state of Indigenous higher education.

It says that while there is encouraging growth, "it is not yet occurring at a sufficient pace to make real inroads into equal representation of Indigenous Australians enrolling and succeeding at university".

It calls for a national indigenous higher education strategy to grow the Indigenous academic workforce and increase participation in STEM and business studies, as well as participation in international mobility programmes and a new, whole of university approach.

Journalist targeted in student loan sign-up

A senior journalist who has written extensively on the of VET FEE-HELP crisis has herself been targeted by private college spruikers.

The Australian's Higher Education Editor Julie Hare has detailed her experience with a phone call from a representative of Martin College, promoting a diploma course as a way of advancing her career.

"And I didn't have to pay a cent. Well, not upfront. Because Martin College was working closely with the federal government to offer courses to people just like me. People whose career needed a big VET FEE-HELP-induced adrenaline rush," Ms Hare reported.

"Being a journalist who has followed closely what can only be described as one of the greatest policy stuff-ups in living memory, I was both intrigued and appalled," she said.

The article says Martin College is part of a multinational private education company, Study Group, paid $124 million in VET FEE-HELP in the year to November.

See Julie Hare's article in The Australian.

TDA recognised in The Australian's 'most influential'

TDA CEO Martin Riordan has been listed in The Australian's '30 most influential' figures in the higher education sector for 2016.

"Not every lobby group boss takes the chance to get all scholarly, heading overseas for a month or three to check out how things are done on the other side of the planet. Martin Riordan has bagged both a Fulbright and a PM’s Postgraduate Asia Scholarship in recent years." The Australian says.

"It’s providing a big picture perspective that is standing TAFE Directors Australia — where Riordan is CEO — in good stead as it enjoys an increasing media profile, albeit thanks to the rolling disaster engulfing vocational education," it says.

The list is headed by Glyn Davis and includes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ministers Chris Pyne and Simon Birmingham, Barney Glover, Brian Schmidt, Belinda Robinson, Andrew Norton and Phil Honeywood. 

Western Australia launches TAFE campaign

The West Australian government has launched a campaign to promote the diversity of choices available through TAFE.

The 'Make A Name' campaign uses former and current students as well as training lecturers to highlight courses offered in industries including aviation, engineering, agriculture, health, children services, tourism and fashion. It will run on television, radio and online until June.

Training and Workforce Development Minister Liza Harvey said it was the first time in many years since the entire state training sector collaborated on an individual campaign.

"TAFE has come a long way over the years and provides some of the most diverse and exciting career training opportunities, and we want to ensure the community understands what is available," Mrs Harvey said.

A one-stop-shop website will allow people to explore career opportunities offered through thousands of courses, in a range of industries across all TAFEs.

Skills commissioner appointed in Victoria

The Victorian government has announced Neil Coulson as the state's first Skills Commissioner.

The Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert said the role signals a new direction in how industry will engage with the training system.

"The Commissioner will work with industry, employee unions and government to ensure Victorians get the skills industry needs," Mr Herbert said.

Mr Coulson was the CEO of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) from 2000 to 2007, He was also Chief Executive of Jacyo Corporation, and a member of the Victorian Learning and Employment Skills Commission.

New education secretary in Tasmania

The Tasmanian government has appointed Jenny Gale  as the new Secretary of the Department of Education.

Ms Gale has a 37 year career in education, working across primary, secondary and senior secondary schools as a teacher and principal for 22 years, before being promoted to the position of Director, Office for Educational Review in 2000.

Ms Gale was Acting Secretary of the Education Department between 2010 and 2011 and, most recently, served as the Deputy Premier’s Chief of Staff.

The position of Acting Secretary was filled by TDA Chair, Stephen Conway, who will return to his position as CEO of TasTAFE.

Call for presentations - 'No Frills' conference 2016

25th National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’, 4 – 6 July 2016, CQUniversity, Rockhampton

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) and CQUniversity are calling for abstracts for presentations and poster sessions for the 25th National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’. Industry, practitioners and researchers are invited to share their work on vocational education and training (VET).

The 2016 conference will highlight (but is not limited to) research across three themes:

  • Equity: supporting diversity through promoting inclusive training opportunities for all Australians
  • Engagement: students, providers, employers and government working together to improve access, participation and outcomes from training
  • Evolution: developing a skilled and flexible workforce to adapt to rapid technological change in the workplace, and to improve national competitiveness.

Call for presentations and poster session closes Monday 22 February. Download the information pack here.

Honda invention competition reminder

Could your student be the next inventor of an innovative 4-stroke petrol powered product?

Honda’s ‘Best Powered by Honda invention’ for 2015. competition closes on January 31.

This is the last opportunity to show the engineering brilliance of TAFE teachers and students by entering an innovative 4-stroke powered product (not a mobility device).

Honda also invites teachers and students from TAFE engineering and manufacturing departments to attend the awards ceremony to be held at Science Works in Melbourne next April.

Michael Sanders from Holmesglen Institute has been selected to represent TAFE on the judging panel.

All information about the competition can be found here.

Diary Dates

Group Training national conference
‘Skilling for Growth’
7 – 8 April 2016
More information

AVETRA 19th annual conference 
20 – 22 April 2016
More information

EduTECH 2016
30 - 31 May 2016
More information 

25th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
4 – 6 July 2016
Rockhampton, Queensland
More information 

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

Corporate Affiliates