Prime Minister weighs into private training college scandal, while TDA calls for a freeze on VET FEE-HELP payments to risky private colleges
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has foreshadowed further measures to crack down on the activities of unscrupulous private training providers and the explosion of VET FEE-HELP.
Meanwhile, TDA has called for an immediate ban on VET FEE-HELP payments to training colleges at the centre of the escalating student loan scandal.
Speaking in Launceston on Friday, Mr Turnbull said students have received poor value and the government has been left with loans for courses that weren’t completed, describing it as a “shambles”.
“We have made a number of changes and we’re monitoring the situation and we’ll make further ones,” he said.
“We don’t want to continue to subsidise what has turned out to be, in many cases, very speculative and poor quality courses being offered.”
TDA CEO Martin Riordan also called for the Australian Skills Quality Authority to put greater focus on risk categories among registered training organisations (RTOs), to establish a benchmark for provision of VET FEE-HELP funding.
“TDA has been urging action on this front in submissions going back as far as 2011. We have made a number of suggestions and submissions to ASQA, and remain surprised by the response to date.,” he said
See TDA’s media release.
ACCC starts a series of training college court actions
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced its first court proceedings against a private college, and has foreshadowed another ten prosecutions before the end of the year.
The ACCC alleges Unique International College enrolled over 3,600 students in diploma courses, costing between $22,000 and $25,000 and received approximately $57 million from the Commonwealth.
The ACCC says only 2.4 per cent of the consumers who signed up and commenced Unique’s courses between July and December 2014 completed their course.
“The conduct of concern allegedly targeted some of the most vulnerable groups in the Australian community, including consumers from remote areas and from low socioeconomic backgrounds,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
He said the court action will seek to recover the Commonwealth funds and have the student loans cancelled. Another ten colleges under investigation could face prosecution before Christmas, he said.
William Angliss to offer new sustainable food studies degree
| William Angliss Institute gastronomy lecturer Kelly Donati, lecturer Dr Nick Rose with Jonai Farms owner Tammi Jonas at the announcement of new Bachelor of Food Studies at the recent Sustain conference. |
William Angliss Institute will offer a new Bachelor of Food Studies, aimed at students who want to contribute to a more sustainable, ethical and equitable world through food.
Starting next February, the degree will have a multi-disciplinary approach, exploring the relationship between food, agriculture, policy and health.
Associate Director Higher Education and Quality Dr Paul A. Whitelaw said the degree is a fantastic opportunity for people who want to become experts and leaders in shaping food systems.
“Food Studies is a thriving field of study that cultivates fertile ground for understanding how our food and drink choices—what we consume, how, where and why—shape the world.
“Building on our strong traditions in culinary artistry and gastronomy, Food Studies students at William Angliss Institute will gain access to a unique blend of hands-on cookery, sensory education, fermentation and crafting practices as part of the curriculum,” Dr Whitelaw said.
Apprenticeships in decline, according to new data
The proportion of employers with apprentices and trainees fell 2.6 percentage points to 24.3% in 2015, according to new data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).
The decline was most significant for medium employers (down 6.5 percentage points) and large employers (12.6 percentage points).
“This follows a trend over recent years of declining use of apprentices and trainees by Australian employers and coincides with a decrease in the number of apprentices and trainees in-training over a similar period (as seen in recently released Apprentice and Trainees 2014 Annual figures).”
Within the trades, 10.6% of workers were employed as an apprentice or trainee as at December 2014, compared with 12.3% in 2013.
TAFE market share in Victoria still down
The level of government subsidised training in Victorian fell over the last year, with TAFEs down 18% and private training providers down 15%, according to the Victorian Training Market Report.
“Government subsidised enrolments in TAFEs have declined year-on-year since 2012, with the number of enrolments in 2015 lower than in 2010,” the report says.
However, it says the rate of decline in TAFE market share has slowed.
“Market share by TAFE providers in government subsidised training fell only marginally in 2015 to 27 per cent, from 28 per cent in the same period in 2014.
“This decline is significantly less than that seen in previous years, which have been up to eight percentage points,” the report said.
See the ‘Victorian Training Market Report - 2015 Half Year’.
Central Institute wins ‘Green Gown’ award for world class training centre
Central Institute of Technology has won the inaugural ‘Built Environment’ category at the sixth annual Green Gown Awards in Geelong.
A total of 43 finalists from 22 institutions from Australia and New Zealand contested the awards at the Australian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS) conference.
Central Institute won the Built Environment prize for its Green Skills Training Centre, designed to be the embodiment of sustainable technology.
The building earned the highest possible sustainability rating from the Green Building Council of Australia with a 6 Star Green Star design rating. The building is designed with the dual purpose of being a world leader in sustainability and a teaching tool for sustainable design.
International student numbers continue to grow
The past year has seen continuing growth in the number of international students coming to Australia, according to new Department of Immigration and Border Protection figures.
Almost 230,000 student visas were granted in 2014-15 – a 2.6 per cent increase on the previous year, marking the fifth successive year of growth.
Of the total student visas granted in 2014-15, 21.9 per cent were to Chinese students while students from South Korea, Brazil and Thailand also increased from previous years.
Skilled occupations list submissions extended to 13 November
The public submissions process for the Skilled Occupations List has been extended to 13 November 2015.
TDA strongly encourages input from members to this annual review. Submissions will be considered in the development of the 2016-17 Skilled Occupations List.
If you would like to provide a submission, you can directly access the online form here.
For more information, email: SOLsubmissions@education.gov.au or phone 02 6240 3797
Free trade agreement training provider grants now open
The Free Trade Agreement Training Provider (FTA-TP) Grants are designed to help organisations to use and access FTAs with Korea, Japan, and China.
Applications will be open for a month, with a total of $2.145 million available in funding over two years.
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