The Victorian VET Funding Review

8 May  2015

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The Victorian Review of VET Funding, headed by former Holmesglen chief Bruce Mackenzie, is due to make an initial report to the government in early June (with its final report at the end of August). Over 750 submissions were made to the review by VET providers, industry and employers, students, teachers, parents and other interested parties, including by TAFE Directors Australia (TDA), representing the public providers, the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET), representing private RTOs. Funding issues aside, on which there are significant issues, funding issues aside, TDA and ACPET aren’t worlds apart in what they propose.
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TDA submission

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quote marksVictoria’s TAFE Institutes constitute the backbone of a strong, viable and sustainable VET system. Current VET funding is adequate but its distribution must be fundamentally revised.

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In its submission, TDA proposed that

  •  a differential rate of funding be introduced, on the basis of ownership (with private RTOs receiving 70% of the full rate and TAFEs 100%) and mode of delivery (entirely on line and workplace delivery receiving 20% of the full rate and institutionally based delivery receiving 100%), with loadings for regional delivery and special needs students
  • no less than 60% of the Victorian education budget assigned to VET is allocated to Victoria’s TAFE Institutes
  • a pool of funds available only to TAFE institutes to tender for developing quality learning and assessment materials associated with qualifications and courses on the national register (the space currently dominated by Industry Skills Councils)
  • align nominal hours in Victorian government purchasing guides with the volume of learning specified in the AQF
  • introduce entry requirements, based on ATAR or completed qualifications, for Diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications
  • require RTOs to only engage brokers/third party agents that are registered with a government agency and that it be an offence to operate as such an agent if unregistered.

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ACPET submission

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ACPET supports a diverse and competitive sector to drive quality and innovation….The private VET sector plays a significant role in contributing to the Victorian economy; through the development of the workforce and as well as supporting VET as a major export industry.

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Not surprisingly, ACPET has taken umbrage at TDA’s funding proposals, with ACPET chief Rod Camm saying he was “dumbfounded” by the proposals.

In its submission, ACPET acknowledges that TAFE has an important role to play, but says this role needs to be shaped by student choice. The role of TAFE as a public service provider needs to be made clear and, ideally, aspects of its operation should be funded outside of the contestable market. Community service obligations should be funded and supported from additional investment, and be provided by both public and private providers. It says that re-creating a government funded monopoly ignores the considerable progress the sector has made since the introduction of contestability.

To improve quality, ACPET proposes outcome based moderation where students and trainers are independently assessed. If independently sampled and assessed in person, this would highlight non-compliant RTO delivery and allow the relevant government bodies to respond to inappropriate behaviour in a timely manner.

It says closer scrutiny of how the ‘amount of learning’ in determined, advertised and delivered for courses will help ensure learners acquire the skills of a certification. The AQF minimum hours of volume of learning should be mandatory rather than observed, although ACPET acknowledges that it is challenging to regulate how long a qualification should take, as there are many variables within each type of training scenario, such as Language, Literacy and Numeracy issues, Disabilities and location of delivery.

It suggests that here is potential for ACPET itself  to assist in in providing greater scrutiny of private RTOs as part of its peer review requirements under the ACPET Code of Ethics and proposes that ACPET membership should be considered as part of the selection process for private providers to access VTG. ACPET could also play a role in assisting with the physical assessment of all private RTOs that have applied for subsidised training funding.

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