Following significant changes in the sector since Bradley, and increasing delivery of higher education by non-university providers, TDA released a policy position paper in 2013, which argues:
- Students at TAFE should have access to Commonwealth Supported Places, with preference for areas of skills shortages;
- A demand-led system should include funding to support pathway qualifications for students from VET into higher education, and;
- The capability of TAFE to deliver higher education should be recognised through a specific category in the Higher Education Provider Standards.
Two TDA papers inform the policy position:
- Public Technical and Further Education Providers in the Tertiary Sector: Unleashing the capability
- Pathways to higher qualifications: when students choose TAFE to study higher education
The emergence of TAFE institutes as integrated tertiary providers is in line with developments in other countries such as North America, United Kingdom and, in the region, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
TDA’s response to the ongoing evolution of Australia’s higher education landscape was underlined in a 2016 response to the Department of Education and Training’s Discussion Paper, Driving innovation, fairness and excellence in Australia’s higher education, in which the following recommendations were made:
- That reform to Australia’s higher education system supports the creation of an integrated tertiary education sector that better supports student and provider diversity, meets Australia’s workforce needs and promotes student global mobility into the future.
- That TAFE and not-for profit non-university HEPs are provided priority in the expansion of Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) at the same rate and on the same basis as universities, with immediate access in skills shortage areas and fields of state and national priority.
- That a new category in the Provider Standards is nominated for TAFE and not-for profit HEPs to acknowledge their roles in an integrated tertiary education sector.
- In an environment of fiscal constraint, that the expansion of CSP funding to sub-bachelor qualifications is subject to further review to fully scope the impact of any expansion on the sub-bachelor market and the benefits for students.
- That subsidised postgraduate places are reallocated on a transparent and consistent basis to TAFE HEPs and private not-for-profit HEPs according to principles driven by equity, economic and academic need.
- Subject to financial availability, that higher education equity targets and equity support schemes are expanded to TAFE HEPs at the same rate and on the same basis as universities to support increased participation, retention and completion by people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- That regional TAFEs are granted infrastructure funds to support higher education provision in regional and outer metropolitan communities through partnerships with TAFE HEPs and/or regional universities.
- As with undergraduate higher education funding, that a proportion of research funding is allocated to TAFE HEPs to accelerate applied research. This is based on successful international models including the applied research models operating in Canada and New Zealand.
- That the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website is expanded to provide broader information for students and providers with input from the network of providers that work within QILT.
- That any changes to higher education funding are fair and equitable for all higher education students within budget constraints. A modest loan fee applied to all HELP loan recipients would remove inequities for non-university student borrowers and assist future sustainability of the HELP scheme.