Vic VET review due

Major shake up of “open market” foreshadowed

The Australian      |     15 December 2015

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The Mackenzie review of Victoria’s VET funding is to be released tomorrow (16 December 2015), with more than 100 recommendations in what is certain to be a major shake-up of Victoria’s open training market.

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Bruce Mackenzie undertook Review with Neil Coulson

Bruce Mackenzie undertook Review with Neil Coulson

The Australian reports that the review will recommend private colleges be made to report their finances to the state’s ­Auditor-General, similar to public TAFEs and universities. It would be the first step towards creating a sector-wide classification system based on a college’s finances and capabilities.

The review, by former Holmesglen TAFE director Bruce Mackenzie and Victorian Skills Commissioner Neil Coulson, makes more than 100 recommendations in what would be a major shake-up of Victoria’s open market for training.

It also apparently proposes that students be charged a minimum fee to ensure students had “skin in the game” and prevent providers from offering free ­courses as an enticement just to pocket the state government course subsidy.

Skills minister Steve Herbert has warned that whatever the state does, it is critical the federal government do more to crack down on the exploitation of the VET-FEE-HELP loan system for diplomas.

He said underprepared students were being lured into ­expensive diploma courses with VET-FEE-HELP and then dropping out with big debts when they would be better off doing a state-funded certificate. The federal government should cap prices to stop colleges exploiting the loans in the same way that university fees are capped. He also wants the government to make VET-FEE-HELP providers more accountable for poor completion rates and poor job outcomes.

Since it was fully introduced in 2011 Victoria’s open market has led to budget blowouts and widespread reports of rorts as private providers rapidly expanded on the back of access to government subsidies. TAFE’s market share of subsidies has nearly halved since 2010 from 50 per cent to just 27 per cent while the market share of ­private colleges has jumped from 20 per cent to 60 per cent.

The Andrews government has initiated a regulatory crackdown, introduced tighter contract requirements and claimed back more than $60m in subsidies.

The review was undertaken by former Holmesglen TAFE director Bruce Mackenzie and now Victorian Skills Commissioner Neil Coulson, formerly the head of employer organisation VECCI,

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