Private training providers enriched at the expense of taxpayers and students, Senate committee finds
A Senate committee has found evidence of rampant abuse of VET FEE-HELP by private training providers and an explosion in student bad debts.
The Senate Education and Employment References Committee recommends a full review of the income contingent loans scheme and the prosecution of some training providers.
“The committee recommends that the government, where there is evidence to do so, provides a brief to the DPP to launch prosecutions against providers engaged or benefiting from fraud and take steps to recover monies lost,” the committee recommends.
The cost of VET FEE-HELP has exploded from $325 million in 2012 to $1.76 billion in 2014, according to official data obtained by Fairfax Media, while it is estimated that 40 per cent of the loans will never be repaid.
TDA CEO, Martin Riordan, writing in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, outlined the need for greater transparency and rigour under the federal regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).
He argued that four years since its establishment, ASQA had yet to establish the procedures to distinguish capacity and quality of vocational education RTOs, which had contributed to the extraordinary access by unscrupulous private colleges to VET FEE HELP.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Luke Hartsuyker, introduced legislation to strengthen protections for students.
“No longer can providers and their agents pass-off VET FEE-HELP supported training as ‘free’ or ‘government-funded’, nor mislead students in any way into believing that VET FEE-HELP is not a loan that is expected to be paid back to the Government”.
See Martin Riordan’s Fairfax opinion piece.
See the Senate committee report.
Victoria cancels training provider contract
The Victorian Department of Education and Training has terminated the Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG) funding contract of Australian Management Academy (AMA), which is owned by the publicly listed Australian Careers Network Limited (ACN).
The Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert said the department is also reviewing other ACN providers that hold VTG funding contracts.
“There are 1,688 government funded students enrolled at AMA who could be affected by the termination of AMA’s VTG funding contract,” Mr Herbert said.
“The Department is contacting students via letter, and will support them in transitioning to a TAFE institute if required, in order to complete their training.”
AMA’s contract was terminated following an independent review. The review found a number of issues, including non-compliance with the terms of the provider’s VTG funding contract, the minister said.
TAFE leaders meets Minister Hartsuyker, MPs at Parliament House
| Martin Riordan, Minister Hartsuyker and Warren Tapp |
The new Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Luke Hartsuyker met with Warren Tapp, Chair of the TAFE chairs network, and Martin Riordan, TDA CEO, last week in Canberra.
Minister Hartsuyker outlined his commitment to quality in the vocational education sector, and supported self-accreditation in governance for quality providers.
TDA and the TAFE chairs network agreed to begin a high-level dialogue with the government to support new skills strategies, including efforts to lift apprenticeships.
Minister Hartsuyker spoke on ABC Radio National Life Matters, outlining his priorities for the portfolio.
House of Representatives TAFE inquiry chair meets TAFE leaders
| Martin Riordan, Ewen Jones and Warren Tapp |
The Chair of last year’s House of Representatives Inquiry into TAFE, Ewen Jones, met with TAFE leaders Warren Tapp and Martin Riordan, during their visit to Parliament House.
Ewen Jones’ committee made recommendations that included the federal government agreeing to the special role and appropriate funding for the national provider network, particularly to support infrastructure and community service obligations.
Mr Jones, who represents the North Queensland electorate of Herbert, said he was supportive of following up with the newly appointed Education and Training portfolio Ministers under Senator Birmingham.
He was especially welcoming of Warren Tapp, Chair of the TAFE chairs network and also Chair of TAFE Queensland, sporting a commemorative jersey from the Queensland Cowboys after their victory in the NRL grand final.
TDA national conference presentations online
For those who missed the TDA National Conference in Hobart, or for anyone wanting to access the amazing breadth of material discussed there, all the key presentations are now available online.
Photos from the three days are also available.
See the conference presentations.
See the photos.
TDA and LH Martin Institute study mission to Canada – a driver of innovation and jobs in SMEs
The recent delegation to Canada sponsored by TDA and the LH Martin Institute explored the fully functioning applied research model in Ontario Colleges and Institutes.
Several delegates also visited Southern Alberta Institute of Technology which is a polytechnic institute located in Calgary, Alberta.
Fifteen senior delegates from Australia and the UK, met with Colleges and Institutes, Federal Granting Councils, Industry Sector Councils, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Colleges and Institutes Canada (the TDA of Canada), Austrade and the High Commissioner, and attended a Symposium on Applied Research hosted by the Ontario Institute of Studies for Education. The delegates came away convinced that this is a model that we need in Australia.
The model has developed and flourished in Canada with the support of the Federal Government which provides the bulk of the funding under a competitive application process via four major Granting Councils, and it is co-funded almost 50/50 by industry and enterprises. This is a model that can be easily adopted by Australia, as we have experience with competitive funding processes and certainly the same economic imperatives.
See the full report by Ruth Schubert, Associate Professor and Associate Director, LH Martin Institute.
Indonesian government representatives take part in TAFE Queensland program
Eight Indonesian representatives from the Ministry of Manpower are taking part in a three-week, Australia Awards fellowship at TAFE Queensland East Coast’s Nambour campus.
One of the objectives is for TAFE Queensland to demonstrate how inclusive practices, including teaching methodologies, assistive technologies and reasonable adjustments can improve the learning outcomes of students with disabilities.
“Part of what we’ll be doing together is developing a better understanding of students with disability and how to modify vocational areas to include strategies and methods that would benefit those with a disability,” said Paula Ingles, TAFE Queensland East Coast Community Services teacher
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) supports the program under its Australia Awards Fellowships offering organisations the opportunity to broaden links with leaders and professionals in developing countries.
Free trade agreement training provider grants available
In order to increase awareness of the North Asia Free Trade Agreements, the federal government is introducing a Free Trade Agreement Training Provider (FTA-TP) Grant.
A total of $2.145 million is available in funding over two years.
The grant can help offset the costs of producing and delivering training that assists small and medium-sized enterprises to use and access Australia’s FTAs with China, Japan and Korea.
A number of information sessions will be held during October to provide information about the program.
Australia-Pacific Technical College seeking vocational trainers
The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) is seeking applications from experienced Vocational Trainers in:
- Business / Leadership and Management
- Catering Operations
- Mechanical Trade (Fitting and Machining)
- Hospitality (Housekeeping / Food and Beverage)
- Engineering (Fabrication Trade)
- Youth Services
The APTC is a TVET centre of excellence aimed at skilling and qualifying Pacific Island citizens for a range of occupations in demand across the Pacific. It operates from the regional corporate head office in Fiji and campus facilities established in Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
An attractive remuneration package will be in line with the DFAT Adviser Remuneration Framework Discipline Category B2. There is also an opportunity to apply to the ATO for tax exemption.
Applications close this Sunday, 18 October.
For more information and how to apply visit the APTC website.
Nursing accreditation standards open for review
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) has commenced the review of the Enrolled Nurse Accreditation Standards used to assess and accredit Enrolled Nurse Programs of study.
TAFE Institutes have been invited to provide input into the review by responding to the first consultation paper and survey on the ANMAC website. This first stage of consultation closes on Friday, 20 November.
There is also an opportunity to provide face-to-face feedback at a series of consultation forums.
For information about the consultation process or attendance at the forum please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 6274 9121.
Sustainable campus conference and Green Gown awards on this week
There are just days until the 15th International ACTS Conference, hosted by Deakin University at their Waterfront Campus in Geelong, from 21-23 October, as well as the internationally regarded Green Gown Awards Australasia ceremony - celebrating sustainability excellence on 22 October.
The conference will provide learning and networking opportunities for professionals and students working in all areas of sustainability across campus and surrounding communities.
Webinar - Practitioner research: why it is useful in VET and how it is used and analysed
DATE: 26 October 2015
DETAILS: More information.
2015 AUSTAFE National Conference
Bringing TAFE and VET to the Nation’s Capital
DATE: 28 – 30 October 2015
DETAILS: Contact National President Jerome.DeRose@cit.edu.au
2015 Australian Training Awards
DATE: 19 November 2015
NCVER Research Forum
VET’s role in re-skilling displaced workers
DATE: 19 November 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
DETAILS: Find out more.
HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia)
The Shape of Higher Education
DATE: 4-7 July 2016
DETAILS: More information