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Dual sector unis ‘happy to ditch TAFE label’

The Australian | 5 March 2014

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It appears Victoria’s four dual-sector universities have quietly dumped their TAFE status and the burden of state government reporting that went with it.

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RMITNew legislation will see state government-owned TAFE assets and infrastructure transferred to the dual-sector universities. It also frees them to negotiate wage deals with TAFE teachers without the state government having to approve the agreements.

Andrew Smith, Federation University’s deputy vice-chancellor (academic), said there are no funding FED UNI LOGO INSET (2)implications, noting changes to state funding arrangements meant there were no longer any differences between TAFEs and private colleges.  He said FedUni’s former TAFE was now effectively a publicly owned registered training organisation.

RMIT vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner said the new legislation better reflected the new reality of dual sectors.

“The notion that there was this TAFE division was an organisational fiction,” she said, adding there would not be changes to RMIT’s VET offerings as a result of the change.

She said RMIT was happy to dump the TAFE label, which she said didn’t always translate well overseas.

“The legislation allows the universities to represent ourselves as we are; it reduces red tape and frees us to pursue our vision and missions,” she said.

The move may make mergers between the remaining stand-alone TAFEs with dual-sectors more attractive as it would reduce reporting and compliance requirements.

The change in status doesn’t necessarily affect their recognition as “dual sector” universities: Gavin Moodie distinguishes between single sector institutions which offer 97% of their teaching in one sector, mixed sector institutions which teach from 3% to 20% of their students in their smaller sector, and dual sector institutions which have substantial (> 20% of their load) in each of vocational and higher education.

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