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Newsletter | 20 February 2012    

In this edition

  • Changes to student visa assessment levels
  • Universities opt-in to streamlined student visa arrangements
  • Peak provider summit with VET regulator 
  • TDA enhances China links
  • Traineeships up in new figures
  • Offshore position for second language teachers
  • New student centre for NMIT
  • Workforce planning conference, Melbourne
  • Diary Dates 

Feature story

Skills for All - South Australia signs up for VET FEE-HELP

The South Australian Government has signed-up to the Commonwealth’s National Skills Reform Agenda, joining Victoria as the only other state to have made this declaration.

The bilateral agreement opens the way for approved South Australian providers to offer VET FEE-HELP for students studying Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses.  Other arrangements in the deal can be viewed here.

Changes to student visa assessment levels

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon Chris Bowen MP has announced a reduction in assessment levels for 29 countries, effective from 24 March.

Click here to view the announcement. 

Although the VET sector has reduced assessment levels for eleven countries, only South Korea is a major source of student applications.

The postgraduate sector stands to benefit the most, with applicants from China, India, Indonesia and Nepal now assessed at level 1.

The good news for all sectors is that no country has had their assessment level increased.


New data from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship shows that the number of onshore Indian students applying for student visas increased dramatically in the year to December 2011. See an article in The Australian here.

Universities opt-in to streamlined student visa arrangements

Last week was the deadline for Australia’s 39 universities to opt-in to streamlined visa arrangements.

TDA understands the vast majority have opted-in and final agreements are expected to be in place by the end of March. Under these agreements, all students applying to study at a participating university will be assessed at level 1, regardless of their country of origin.

Of particular interest to TDA and its members will be the willingness of participating universities to nominate educational business partners and continue to offer packaged courses. Packaged courses, where international students can combine English language study, vocational education and training and higher education, have long been the cornerstone of Australia’s international education. There is significant risk in fracturing such partnerships and highlights the need for streamlined arrangements to be introduced for all low risk, high quality providers as soon as possible.

Peak provider summit with VET regulator

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) will meet with TDA and peak provider representatives in Melbourne tomorrow to review the national approach to regulation in vocational education and training.

To date, Victoria and Western Australia have not referred their powers to be incorporated in the new ASQA Authority.

TDA invited all members to nominate key issues before the consultative meeting and a long list of concerns were raised including:

  • a lack of proportional risk management, with TAFE as a provider already completing key risk functions for state/territory agencies
  • delays in new course registrations, raising industry concerns over provider flexibility
  • delays to the timetable for further ASQA regulation – noting the Queensland experience.

TDA will report to members the outcomes of the ASQA consultative meeting.

National information sessions on regulation

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) will be holding a national program of information sessions in major cities across Australia for training providers and course owners in the first half of 2012.

For more information see the latest issue of the ASQA Update available here.

TDA enhances China links

TDA recently welcomed a high-level delegation from China, including Deputy Secretary-General  Lin Zuoping from the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) and Zhang Limin, President of the China Education Institute for International Exchange and Research.

Top of the agenda was confirmation of a joint TDA/CEAIE Green Skills conference in Beijing in October and further planning for a China-Australia student exchange program.

Mr Lin also confirmed that the CEAIE would be sending up to 30 tertiary vocational leaders to Australia this year as part of the four week Vocational Education Leadership Training (VELT) program.

Since early 2010 TDA, with the support of members, has run five VELT programs with more than 90 China tertiary vocational college presidents and vice presidents participating. 

Traineeships up in new figures, but apprenticeships decline

The number of people starting traineeships increased to an all-time high in the December Quarter of 2011, however apprentice commencements decreased for the fourth time in the last five quarters.

A new report from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows the number of trainee commencements increased to 58,600 in the quarter, up from the previous high of 57,000 in the March 2011 quarter.

For apprentice completions, 21,400 people started in a trade in the December 2011 quarter, down from 23,500 in the previous quarter.

For further information, click here.

Other recent NCVER publications…

  • Have a heart: challenges for lead vocational teachers in the changing VET landscape
    • This paper investigates the role of lead vocational teachers in TAFE Queensland and their personal and career development needs. Click here to view the paper.
  • Lifting the lid on completion rates in the VET sector: how they are defined and derived
    • This paper aims to 'lifts the lid' on completion rates, explaining how they are defined and how they are calculated. Click here to view the paper.

Offshore position for second language teachers

Austraining International is seeking expressions of interest from highly experienced ‘English as a Second language’ (ESL) teachers for a two month advisor position in Kiribati with possible extension for up to 18 months.

Details can be read here including contact details. Other opportunities to work with Austraining can be found here

New student centre for NMIT

The Northern Metropolitan Institute of TAFE (NMIT) has opened its new state-of-the-art Epping Student Centre which will help meet the growing demand for vocational and higher education services.

The centre was officially opened by the Victorian Minister for Higher Education and Skills, the Hon Peter Hall MLC. It boasts a state-of-the-art library, 24 hour computer laboratories, general purpose rooms, and a brand-new fully-equipped gym which will be available for wider community use.

Click here to view a media release.

Workforce planning conference, Melbourne

Workforce Planning Australia, a division of MEGT (Australia) Ltd, is holding a workforce planning and development conference in Melbourne, 26 – 27 April.

The 2012 Workforce Planning Conference will bring to Australia the most current and progressive case studies from USA, UK, Europe and Asian markets.  

For more information, click here.

Diary Dates

Quality in the Making
DATE: 27-28 February, 2012
LOCATION: Sofitel Hotel, Brisbane
DETAILS: Click here for more information

What’s new on the Horizon, incorporating Project Management
DATE: 29-30 March, 2012
LOCATION: Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
DETAILS: Click here for more information

DATE: 12-13 April, 2012
LOCATION: Canberra
DETAILS: Click here to submit an extract.

TAFE - Leading Skills Enrichment
DATE: 17-18 May, 2012
LOCATION: Hilton on the Park, 196 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne 3002
DETAILS: More information will become available in February.