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Newsletter | 24 October 2016

In this edition


NSW data used to set course costs under revamped student loans program

The Department of Education and Training used data predominantly from NSW to arrive at the pricing structure for courses approved under the new national VET Student Loans program.

The student loan program, which will replace VET FEE-HELP from 2017, will see 347 courses eligible for government funding, compared with  more than 800 under the former scheme.

Appearing before the Senate Education and Employment Committee, the Department of Education and Training outlined the process for selecting eligible courses and setting the level of government funding.

Dr James Hart, Skills Program Group Manager with the department said that data from the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) was the primary source for establishing typical course cost, although other data sources were also used.

In selecting eligible courses, Dr Hart said the methodology required that they be on at least two state skills needs lists, while STEM subjects were also included on the advice of the chief scientist.

The Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham told the committee that the three course price bands - $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 - were deemed appropriate to most courses, although there was a ministerial exemption available for some high cost courses such as aviation.

The Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships Senator Doug Cameron questioned why TAFE was not exempted from the new rules.

TDA has expressed concern at some of the courses axed from the new list and will be presenting its recommendations on the VET student loan legislation to a Senate committee tomorrow.

TDA convention presentations and photos now available

A number of presentations to the the 2016 TDA Convention, Skills Resurgence, are now available on the convention website.

There is also a selection of photos from the event that are available.

Thank you again to to all who attended and contributed.

Former Sydney TAFE head named on international education council

The former director of TAFE NSW Sydney Institute, David Riordan, is one of the members appointed to the federal government's new Council for International Education.

The council will oversee the National Strategy for International Education 2025, which is being supported by $12 million in funding.

Members of the council are:

  • Professor Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Community & Engagement), University of Western Australia
  • Mr Brett Blacker CEO, English Australia
  • Ms Sue Freeman CEO and Managing Director, First Impressions Resources
  • Mr Phil Honeywood CEO, International Education Association of Australia
  • Mr David Riordan, Director of City Operations, City of Sydney
  • Ms Tracey Horton – Incoming Chair, Navitas
  • Ms Karyn Kent CEO, StudyAdelaide
  • Ms Nina Khairina President, Council for International Students Australia
  • Mr Gerald Lipman CEO, International College of Hotel Management
  • Ms Belinda Robinson CEO, Universities Australia
  • Mr Derek Scott Principal and CEO, Haileybury

The Council will be chaired by the Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham, who will be joined by ministers with portfolio responsibilities in international education.

Australian training providers set for scrutiny under ASQA agreement with Hong Kong

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see improved information sharing and compliance activities.

ASQA Chief Commissioner Chris Robinson said both agencies will share information to inform risk assessments of applications by Australian-regulated registered training organisations (RTOs) and their partners that deliver VET provision in Hong Kong,

“ASQA will also share information about its regulatory and quality assurance actions and results relating to RTOs that deliver VET in Hong Kong," he said.

ASQA will be undertaking a series of audits of Australian VET providers in Hong Kong over the coming weeks, making it ASQA’s second round of international audits, following audits of training providers in China last year.

International report examines matching skills and jobs by sector

The European Centre for Skills, CEDEFOP, in collaboration with other partner organisations, has published a guide to matching skills and jobs by sector.

It looks at practices across many countries including the recent experience in Australia and in particular the role and work of Industry Skills Councils (ISCs).

The guide aims to provide policy makers with strategies to anticipate skills needs at the sectoral level and a menu of practices for implementing them.

Green light for international education agent code of ethics

TDA joined other sector peak bodies in endorsing an Australian Agent Code of Ethics at last week's annual Australian International Education Conference.

The Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham announced the endorsement of the code, which will become an important piece of Australia's International Education and Training Quality Framework.

The code provides a guide to the expected professional behaviour of individual agents and agencies working with Australian international students, parents, providers and fellow agents across the sector.

It also places in an Australian context the London Statement, which promotes world best practice amongst agents.

For further information, please context TDA International Education Director, Jen Bahen, via email at jbahen@tda.edu.au

Senator Simon Birmingham, centre, with international education representatives

Why is STEM missing from VET?

The prevalence of university in the public debate about STEM skills is unbalanced and should be more focused on vocational and technical (VET) education, according to a new paper from the National Centre for Vocational education research (NCVER).

The paper, 'What is STEM? The need for unpacking its definitions and applications' by Gitta Siekmann looks at the umbrella term 'STEM' and its various definitions and understandings, as well as its place in the education hierarchy.

The paper raises concern that while the VET sector provides significant contribution to training and skills in the technical workforce, the emphasis is often on secondary schooling and higher education, and pathways between the two.

"In spite of a large provision of engineering, technology and employability skills from the VET sector, its contribution and potential is underreported and underrepresented," it says.

“VET employs a learning model uniquely suited to teaching STEM skills in real or simulated workplaces, in close collaboration with industry and employers. This model makes the VET sector an ideal provider of skill development," NCVER says.

Digital labs open in Tasmania's TAFEs

The Tasmanian government has launched three new DigiLabs across TasTAFE to help encourage innovation in literacy skills.

The DigiLabs in campus libraries in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie have been funded through a Skills Tasmania grant.

They include 3D printers, virtual reality glasses and games, and a virtual office, and will be used to teach a new TasTAFE qualification - 3D Gamification and Entrepreneurialism.

Skills Oz announces executive director

The Skills Oz Board has announced that Phillip Charlton has been appointed to the new Executive Director position leading Skills Oz.

Mr Charlton will commence working with Skills Oz on 21 November.

“The Board of Skills Oz is delighted that Phillip will now lead Skills Oz as we work to deliver services for the construction and property services industries through a strong VET system,” said Noel Hamey, Chairman of the Skills Oz.

Diary Dates

AVTERA conference
VET, trades & apprenticeships: voices from the shop floor
28 October, 2016
La Trobe University, Melbourne
More information

E-Oz and Skills Oz Conference
Assuring quality in the National VET system – Change, Challenge and Opportunity
8 - 9 November, 2016
Marriott Resort & Spa, Surfers Paradise, Queensland
More information

Australian Training Awards
17 November, 2016
Darwin, Northern Territory
More information

2016 National Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education
Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group 
8 - 9 December, 2016
More information


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