ASQA gets the thumbs up – despite an apparent crisis

16 November 2015     

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A survey commissioned by the national regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), reveals an apparent “thumbs up” by stakeholders  for its work on deregulation and slashing redtape.  Meanwhile, in the real world, there’s a sense of crisis in the VET sector, as reported by Fairfax Media (below).  And the Senate has established an inquiry into the Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015 to examine measures proposed to protect students from unscrupulous training colleges. It follows the government’s blocking of Labor amendments to establish a VET Ombudsman and to create a legislated student debt opt-in process to protect them from high pressure sales tactics.

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VET: An industry in crisis is an investor’s worst bet

VET in crisis

quote marksAustralia’s vocational education sector has ballooned since the deregulation of the skills and training sector. The Commonwealth will spend $3 billion this year alone on VET (vocational education and training) Fee-Help loans that help students pay for courses once they gain employment. Around another $3 billion is being spent by state governments subsidising certificate or “non-diploma” courses for hundreds of thousands of students.

This multi-billion dollar honey pot has attracted the bees and several, well documented unscrupulous operators, targeting vulnerable people with telemarketing and door-to-door sales and offering courses that are not up to scratch or not appropriate for the student’s capabilities or resembling anything like skills training for a particular industry.

Victoria has had a particularly open slather approach. It was started by the state ALP, tackled under the Coalition government and now being cleaned up by Labor again after a four-year hiatus in opposition. That crackdown has led to 8000 training certificates being torn up, colleges closed, state funding pulled and a raft of audits and reviews that are still ongoing and could result in more qualifications being disallowed as the crackdown enters full swing.

Students in Sydney, while not immune to rogue operators, have had a better outcome due to the state taking a vastly different approach to funding certificate-level courses by capping ‘entitlements’ to funding for courses. Still the state has been conducting an inquiry over 2015 to finesse its vocational education model which still relies heavily on the TAFE sector.

See

VET: An industry in crisis is an investor’s worst bet
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