Newsflash: UK to reintroduce two year post-graduation work visa

Two-year work rights for international students in UK reinstated for 2020/21

The UK education sector is elated that post-study work rights are set to be offered to international students for two years post-graduation, with enrolments from the 2020/21 academic year set to benefit from this new immigration rule.

Work rights for international students in the UK will be rolled out for all – the welcome mat is out again, say stakeholders.
“The economy, universities and students will all benefit from a more sensible approach”

In the midst of a political meltdown, the government revealed the policy change as part of an announcement about the world’s largest genetics research project also being launched, with the emphasis on the UK’s need for expertise – notably in STEM fields – made apparent.

“This will put the UK back where we ought to be”

“International students make up half of all full-time postgraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. The new immigration route… will mean international graduates in any subject, including STEM, will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work,” read the statement.

UUKi director Vivienne Stern, just back from a trade delegation to India, welcomed the change.

She told The PIE News, “This will put the UK back where we ought to be – a first-choice destination for international students. We lost ground in the last few years, particularly in South Asia.”

It was a rule that the sector had been campaigning hard for, particularly in the last few years, since the same two-year work rights were rescinded in 2012.

Indian student enrolments were particularly impacted by the post-study restrictions, with corresponding huge growth in Indian enrolments in Canada.

“In India last week, there was huge press and student interest in the likelihood of this change so I feel very confident that the announcement will result in a real bounce in interest in the UK,” noted Stern.

“This is very positive news,” echoed UUK chief executive Alastair Jarvis.

“Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students.”

According to a government statement, the new PSW visa will be available to students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK HEI which has a “proven track record” in upholding immigration checks.

There will be no cap on the number of applications.

The new immigration route will enable eligible students to work or job hunt at any skill level, and they will be able to switch to the Skilled Work route if they find a job which meets its requirements.

Asked which cohort of students will be the first to benefit from the new regulations, a Home Office spokesperson told The PIE: “Plans will be revealed in due course. Universities will be able to recruit on the basis that students of 2020/2021 will benefit. The government is currently working on a timeline.”

The sector has enthusiastically welcomed the news. “At last. Godot has finally arrived,” HEPI director Nick Hillman told The PIE.

“All the evidence suggests we need a better regime. We’ve been slipping behind our competitors because our offer has been so uncompetitive. The economy, universities and students will all benefit from a more sensible approach.”

The new regulations are good news for the ELT sector as well, English UK commented, highlighting the sector’s role as a pipeline for HEIs and expressing hope the news will enhance its competitiveness on the global stage.

“This announcement makes the UK a more attractive place to study,” English UK marketing director Annie Wright told The PIE.

“It is likely to mean that more young people and their families will choose the UK’s ELT sector to start their educational journeys or prepare for university study, in the knowledge that they can get a valuable two extra years of experience and using their skills in the workplace.

“We can also hope that this is only the start of making the UK more attractive to all international students through the visa system and positive messaging, so that the ELT sector can compete effectively with other destinations.”

The policy change has “been a really long time coming”, as Stern noted, with many sector stakeholders actively engaged in lobbying for the past few years.

“We felt we had won the policy argument some time ago, but it really took some dogged persistence to make sure that minister after minister pressed for the change in government,” she explained.

“At last. Godot has finally arrived”

Stern said particular credit should go to outgoing universities minister Jo Johnson (who resigned last week), but also to his predecessor Chris Skidmore, and to Paul Blomfield, Lord Hannay and Lord Karan Bilimoria who have “pressed and pressed for years to get the government to make the visa system welcoming, rather than off-putting, to international students.”

Hillman agreed. “I shall forever think of it as the Jo Johnson memorial policy, given the excellent work he did on this in and out of office,” he added.

PM sets new goals for digital skills

PM sets new goals for digital skills

Scott Morrison: Productivity focus on building better digital skills across the economy

In his first major domestic speech since the May 18 federal poll, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to improve Australia’s digital skills, and to drive the uptake of new technologies within the nation’s financial system.

Mr Morrison outlined for the first time the government’s response to recommendations of the Joyce Review into Australia’s vocational education and training system, which was handed to the government in March.

The review, led by former New Zealand minister for tertiary education, skills and employment Steven Joyce, pointed to a need for VET courses to be updated to address skills gaps in emerging industries such as advanced manufacturing, information and communication technology, and cybersecurity.

“The Review acknowledges the good work undertaken in the sector so far, but says VET needs to adapt so it can support important and emerging industries and become a first choice for students who want to pursue technical careers,” the Prime Minister said.

“We believe that learning through a vocational education is just as valuable as a university degree, so we want to transform the way we deliver skills, support employers and fund training.”

Mr Morrison said initial steps would include setting up a National Skills Commission and a new National Careers Institute “to give people the information they need to decide their future careers and the best pathways to get them into a job.”

He said government would create up to 80,000 additional apprentices over five years in priority skills shortage areas through increasing apprenticeship incentives.

Small Business minister Michaelia Cash and assistant minister Steve Irons have been appointed to oversee these implementations, Mr Morrison said.

Speaking to the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday, the Prime Minister also pledged to focus attention on boosting competition and technology adoption in the financial services sector a pet issue that Mr Morrison has pressed since his time as Treasurer.

Mr Morrison said Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Jane Hume would drive changes in the financial services sector, including the introduction of Open Banking, the new Consumer Data Right; as well as encouraging wider uptake of the New Payments Platform across the economy; establishing a mandatory comprehensive credit reporting system; and finalising a digital trade benchmark agreement with Singapore by the end of the year.

“With greater information, new entrants and small lenders, including innovative FinTech firms, will be encouraged to compete for small business and retail customers,” Mr Morrison said.

“The mutuals sector, including customer owned banks and cooperatives, will also be able to compete better with our legislation lifting restrictions on their ability to raise capital being passed just before parliament rose.

“More broadly, our Government will continue to advocate strongly for a rules-based and open global trading environment that supports digital trade, builds trust and confidence in the online environment, and reduces barriers.”

sourceAAP:www.innovationaus.com

‘Less jobs, less opportunities’ – National claim polytech Cabinet paper leaked

National are claiming to have been leaked a Cabinet paper, in what it says will “strip power and assets from regional polytechnics” in wide-ranging reforms to the polytech and vocational training sector.

Tertiary spokesperson Dr Shane Reti said the paper “proposes to move from a system where vocational education is primarily split between 11 industry training organisations… and 16 institutes of technology… to an integrated model where around 4-7 workforce development councils have oversight of all vocational education”.

Dr Reti said the leaked paper showed the new model would be delivered by a single institution.

“National has obtained a Cabinet paper which outlines this information, the Government will take this paper to Cabinet on Monday,” Dr Reti said.

“The polytechs will be controlled by a head office. They will have their cash and community legacy assets ring fenced at head office. All other assets including buildings and land will be taken away and consolidated.”

Dr Reti said for “high performing polytechs like the Southern Institute of Technology this will be devastating”.

“More than a thousand jobs all over New Zealand will be lost,” Dr Reti claimed.

He said National would “fight” the reforms.

“We will fight for regional New Zealand and we will fight against idealistic educational reforms.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins unveiled proposals in February, with a possible plan to bring all of New Zealand’s polytechnics and technology institutes under a unified banner.

Mr Hipkins said in a statement that the new entity has a working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, and would incorporate all of the country’s 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs).

“It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered,” Mr Hipkins said.

Concerns have been raised around the country over the proposed merger.

The Nelson City Council’s core concerns for the region’s biggest tertiary institute, NMIT, was a loss of control, land and millions of dollars.

The council is also concerned the changes may jeopardises the independence of NMIT.

There had also been criticism of the consultation period, with a major training organisation furious the Education Minister refused an extension for a plan that radically alters the industry.

Skills Active Aotearoa said they were given six weeks to consult with 25,000 employers and 145,000 trainees across the country.

Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt said he was shattered when he heard news of the proposal of the merger in February, with his city home to the Southern Institute of Technology. The zero fees scheme saw enrolments growing from 1000 to 5000 students since it was introduced.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker was also shocked by the announcement, but said he saw some merit in the Government’s plans.

“We need reforms, we need a system that works better… but we can have our cake and eat it, we can have both worlds,” he told 1 NEWS in February.

Earlier in February, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “far-reaching” vocational training reform would be a priority in 2019.

“We currently have a vocational education system that is in many cases, struggling,” she said at the time.

“Over the last two years this Government has been forced to spend $100 million to bail out four polytechnics, and that is a pattern that started before we took office. That is not the sign of a healthy and sustainable sector.”

Ms Ardern said” “Instead of our regional polytechnics and institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery throughout the country”.

SourceAAP:www.tvnz.co.nz

English courses for international students face audit against new standards

English language course providers that enable international students’ entry into the Australian education system will be probed by the regulator to ensure they are complying with strengthened standards.

Amid ongoing concern about the standards in Australia’s booming international education sector, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will later this year audit the more than 50 providers of English language intensive courses for overseas students (ELICOS).

English language courses for international students face an audit by the regulator.
English language courses for international students face an audit by the regulator.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO

The providers will be scrutinised for their compliance with national standards that were tightened from 2018, requiring proper measures to demonstrate students’ outcomes are adequate for the higher education programs they are entering.

Providers have indicated they are ramping up efforts to comply with the changes ahead of the regulator’s reaccreditation project.

“As part of this, the agency will systematically go through provider by provider (and there are about 55 providers that offer ELICOS courses) and will be assessing those courses against the strengthened ELICOS national standards,” the spokeswoman said.

Australia’s international education market has boomed over recent years, growing 14 per cent in 2018. Last year, about 400,000 foreign students were enrolled in Australian universities, pumping $34 billion into the economy.

The explosive growth has led to concerns about foreign students being treated as cash cows, the impact on teaching standards, and potential complications stemming from the heavy reliance on Chinese students.

Brett Blacker, chief executive of English Australia, a peak body representing the ELICOS providers, said there were no systemic issues on English standards in international education.

“That’s not to say there aren’t pockets of issues or areas that need to improve. Any measures that are taken to ensure the quality of the sector are welcomed,” Mr Blacker said.

“The reaccreditation project, I expect that it is going to validate that the regulations are working effectively.”

He conceded that, given ongoing concerns about the issue, there was an “onus for measures to be taken which support the student experience for all students”.

Amanda Muller, a senior lecturer responsible for student language development at Flinders University, said the tightening of ELICOS standards was “entirely needed” and it was to be expected that TEQSA was now ensuring compliance.

“Rather than each ELICOS provider setting their own private standards, now they have to show that their tests are valid, what criteria the students are meeting, and that there is some form of benchmarking going on to other related pathways,” Dr Muller said.

She said there was pressure on providers to produce results for their customers in the smallest amount of time possible.

“So it puts pressure on responsible ELICOS providers who genuinely are trying to get students very proficient in English versus ones who are more interested in selling the more popular shorter courses,” she said.

The government is currently considering further measures to tighten rules around language standards.

Following the introduction of the stricter ELICOS standards, Education Minister Dan Tehan has sought advice on applying similar rules to academic foundation courses that provide foreign students with another pathway into higher education.

TEQSA has also recommended universities be forced to “record, in detail, the basis on which a student met the required English language entry standard”.

Dr Muller backed the ideas, saying it was important for academic foundation courses to face tighter rules and that improved data collection was key to quality.

“Currently, if a university does not have full detailed records of how a student established their English proficiency, we can’t detect problematic demographics, providers, and pathways,” she said.

SourceAAP:www.smh.com.au

It’s time to stop worrying about a robot taking your job… because something else will

A robot isn’t going to steal your job – the future of work has a “very human face”, finds a new report which warns the real risk for Australian workers is the looming skills shortage.

The Deloitte report, released on Wednesday, said between now and 2030 80 per cent of jobs created will be for knowledge workers, with two-thirds strongly reliant on soft skills.

Lead author David Rumbens said the in-demand soft skills were the hardest to automate.

“Jobs increasingly need us to use our hearts – the interpersonal and creative roles with uniquely human skills like creativity, customer service, care for others, and collaboration that are hardest of all to mechanise,” Rumbens said.

“Demand here is set to soar for decades, and this is actually a liberating trend. Much of the boring, repetitive work will be taken care of by technology, leaving the more challenging and interesting work for humans.”

He said technology would change the nature of jobs instead of getting rid of them altogether.

“We don’t face a dystopian future of rising unemployment, aimless career paths, and empty offices. Yes, technology is driving change in the way we work, and the work we do, but it’s ultimately not a substitute for people,” he said.

“We can use technology to our advantage to create more meaningful and productive jobs involving more meaningful and well-paid work.”

He said if policies were put in place to accommodate this, it could boost Australia’s GDP by $36 billion a year.

But the report said many of the key skills needed for the current and future workforce were already in shortage, with the national skills deficit set to grow to 29 million by 2030.

“At the start of this decade, the typical worker lacked 1.2 of the critical skills needed by employers seeking to fill a given position. Today, the average worker is missing nearly two of the 18 critical skills advertised for a job, equating to 23 million skills shortages across the economy,” Rumbens said.

At the start of the year, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) released a report calling for a national coordinated, cross-sector strategy to prepare the entire workforce for the looming skills shortage.

Alex Snow, FYA head of research, told Pro Bono News this was vital in order to address the extended time it was taking, for young people in particular, to transition from full-time education to full-time work.

“At the moment it’s costing us, in reference to young people, about $4.5 billion in opportunity costs,” Snow said.

He said workplaces could take matters into their own hands by rethinking the recruitment process, and redesigning what a job looks like.

“You need to shift the focus onto skills and capabilities rather than just education, and look at where you’re getting your talent from because if you broaden the pipeline you will get a more diverse cohort,” he said.

“Rather than being focused on the traditional ‘job’, you need to look at the skills and competencies required across the business to create more dynamic job roles based on skills and tasks.”

He added it was important for workplaces to invest in professional development to keep up with rapidly changing technology, but he said that organisations with tight budgets, like many in the community sector, could struggle with this which is why it was important a national strategy was implemented.

“There must be a nationally coordinated approach from government around this revolution to support all sectors of the economy to take up the opportunities and minimise the risks,” he said.

SourceAAP:probonoaustralia.com.au

Australia can Follow Finland to Reverse TAFE and Training Crisis

Australia should consider whether it wants a higher education and vocational training system more like that of Finland or more like the USA, according to a new report from The Australia Institute’s Nordic Policy Centre.

The report, co-authored by Professor Andrew Scott, Emeritus Professor Tor Hundloe and Mr Shirley Jackson, shows Australian vocational training is in crisis and explains how the higher education experience of Finland should be used as a blueprint for improving outcomes in Australia.

The report has been released ahead of The Nordic Policy Centre’s roundtable discussion on building an equitable vocational pathway in Australia, which is being hosted by The Embassy of Finland in Canberra and will be attended by business, TAFE and labour union leaders.

Key Findings:

  • Australia is excessively prioritising university education over vocational training and apprenticeships
  • Social and institutional prejudice against vocational education is impacting Australia’s ability to prepare for the labour market of the future
  • Finland has achieved remarkable upward educational mobility with an equitable higher education and training system built on four pillars;
    • Publicly funded education and training
    • Producing highly capable graduates
    • Supporting students financially via social security
    • Debt-free tuition and training
  • Australia should consider adopting these policies and a ‘Youth Guarantee’, which would see every unemployed young Australian offered work, work experience, training or education

“Australia can learn from Finland’s attainment of excellence with equity in its post-school educational institutions,” Professor Andrew Scott said.

“We do not, at present, properly recognise and resource vocational pathways. We have still to break free from the prejudice against ‘vocational’ education as being somehow culturally inferior to ‘academic’ learning.

“Crucial first steps towards improving vocational training outcomes in Australia include restoring proper public funding of TAFE institutes, placing them on a more even cultural footing with universities.

“Finland shows us how to have both high-quality, research-intensive universities and effective vocational training institutions, which should be the ultimate educational goal in Australia.”

/Public Release. View in full here.
SourceAAP:www.miragenews.com

ASQA Training Provider Briefings 2019 commence 27 June

31 May 2019

Registrations are now open for ASQA’s Training Provider Briefings for 2019, which will be held during June and July.

This year ASQA Commissioners and General Managers will participate in the briefings alongside audit staff. This gives attendees an opportunity to discuss issues and ideas directly with senior ASQA decision makers.

These free face-to-face briefings will cover:

  • important information on core activity across the VET sector
  • what providers should expect over the next year
  • Q and A with ASQA Commissioners, General Managers and audit staff.

A total of 22 briefings will be held in 14 metropolitan and regional locations across Australia.

Registration is essential and can be made through Eventbrite.

This year’s dates and locations include:

New South Wales

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

Northern Territory

Australian Capital Territory

Register now

More information about the briefings is available by contacting the ASQA Info Line on 1300 701 801 or by emailing events@asqa.gov.au.

For those unable to attend an event, ASQA will provide an online alternative following the events in 2019.

SourceAAP:www.asqa.gov.au

The alignment of vocational education and training


How can vocational education and training match workforce skills with the needs of the economy? Senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Anna Round reports.

The alignment of vocational education and training with workforce skills and needs of the economy is vital for economic and social justice, and the design of skills systems reflects its importance. Employer engagement, partnership working, and work-based learning all play a part, as does the decentralisation of skills governance.

An increasingly sophisticated range of technological tools use data to draw up detailed accounts of skills priorities for specific roles, sectors and places – and provide forecasts of skills demand over the next few years. This intelligence is invaluable in planning learning and skills policy, as well as for people seeking to progress into or within work.

But the global economy, the UK’s place within it, and the nature of work itself are undergoing rapid transformation. The world will look very different when people now entering the workforce find themselves at mid-career. What long-term trends will impact on skills demand, and how can provision meet these challenges?

Increasing longevity means that many people will want – or need – to work for longer. But jobs that make heavy physical or emotional demands may not be practical for older workers. Mid- or late-career opportunities to train and retrain must be accessible and appropriate for local labour markets. As well as letting individuals switch track without a drastic fall in job quality, they will prevent a wealth of skills and experience, gained through decades of employment, from simply dropping out of the economy.

But it isn’t just older workers who will need to reskill. Technological developments such as automation and digitisation are already reducing demand for some skills and opening up new types of work. They will also change – and continue to change – the skills demands for many established jobs as tasks, rather than jobs, are automated. At the same time, digitisation is becoming more pervasive right across the economy, its importance growing even for sectors and businesses that have traditionally had little involvement with ICT.

Research suggests that resilience to these changes depends on widespread ‘upskilling.’ Workers whose jobs are displaced or reshaped need the skills to manufacture, maintain, and manage technological systems, and to work alongside automated or digitised processes. Creativity, problem solving, innovating, and human interaction will all be in demand; the ability to combine these with scientific knowledge even more so. The UK also needs the expert skills to drive and disseminate digital innovation, but ICT professional skills are in short supply.

Decarbonisation is another area where effective skills provision can both help to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and create a great deal of high-quality, sustainable employment. In parts of the UK that have historically depended on industries such as coal, oil and gas, the creation of much-needed ‘green jobs’ offers a route to both social and environmental renewal. The associated skills provision must be as innovative and systematic as decarbonisation itself if these opportunities are to become real for workers and businesses.

The skills to manage new kinds of career paths – longer, potentially more varied and less stable – are also important. Careers advice in schools is benefiting from substantial innovation, but among adults, awareness of vocational education is still relatively limited. Whether it’s delivered in schools, to unemployed people or through HR departments, guidance needs to look beyond the immediate horizon. If nobody has a ‘job for life’ any more, everyone has a career.

Strengthening the long-term focus of our skills development frameworks, without compromising vital provision for the here and now, will not, and probably should not, come cheap. Over time, investment in adult learning has shifted away from government and towards individual learners and businesses. Yet even with the Apprenticeship Levy in place, employer spend on training remains below the European average, and the number of people starting an apprenticeship fell (for the second year running) in 2017-18. Advanced Learner Loan applications dropped by 13%.

The evidence is strong for economic benefits to individuals and businesses as a result of skills investment. But this argument is unlikely to provide either sufficient incentive, or sufficiently timely incentive, to drive reskilling on the scale required to meet these long-term challenges, or to make sure that it is strategic enough to make the most of new opportunities for local and national economies.

Substantial government investment is needed along with policies to address long-term skills needs that may not be on the current radar of learners and employers. To respond to large-scale, fast moving social and economic shifts, skills provision needs to be funded in agile and responsive ways; a range of incentives and subsidies for individuals and businesses, facilitation for small employers to work together, and funding that recognises time as a limited resource are all effective options.

Such investment will position the UK to be at the forefront of developments such as digitisation and decarbonisation, and to use these opportunities to address regional and social imbalances. It will also reduce the potential costs to government (such as unemployment, deprivation and regional imbalance) if we are not well prepared for a changing global economy with a new and evolving set of skills demands.

Skills supply alone cannot create skills demand, and skills provision needs to work hand in hand with national and local Industrial Strategies that look to the medium- and long-term horizons. The Industrial Strategy represents a crucial opportunity to improve skills utilisation and support employers (including England’s large SME population) to develop their workforce’s skills in ways that raise innovation and productivity. For example, by embedding digital technologies across a range of sectors and business processes. Proposals such as stronger institutions for vocational learning and the National Retraining Scheme are moves in the right direction.

Arguably, the most important skill of all is the willingness to learn and continue learning. This is the curiosity that drives entrepreneurs, that supports innovation and digitisation across economies, and that facilitates major changes such as decarbonisation. Within sectors, an ‘underpinning’ grasp of key theories and principles also makes it easier to adapt and to acquire new knowledge on an ongoing basis. The new T Levels offer a welcome shift towards this within the ‘technical’ curriculum.

We also need to reconsider the relationship between work and learning with an element of ongoing training and upskilling considered as a core task in the majority of jobs – which is resourced to reflect this. Investment in workforce skills needs to sit alongside investment in physical infrastructure or equipment. And skills should be viewed (and funded) as a co-created resource between employers, employees, and government, with lifelong learning as the norm, not the individualised exception.

SourceAAP:http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com

Aus: int’l students underwhelmed by rental options

Accommodation options only just past muster with international students in Australia, according to a new report from edtech company Cohort Go, which found a growing need for options catering to the specialised needs of overseas students.

Australia's accommodation options received a satisfaction score of 57 out of 100 from international students. Photo: Markus Spiske/UnsplashAustralia’s accommodation options received a satisfaction score of 57 out of 100 from international students. Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash
Only 12% of students used an education agent to find living arrangements

The 2019 Aussie Study Experience report, which surveyed almost 700 international students, gave Australian accommodation a satisfaction score of 57 out of 100, finding 60% were living in a private rental over other options.

“The more preparation that was done, the greater the satisfaction”

“The trend means that students coming from overseas aren’t necessarily getting a service that’s tailored to their needs by the accommodation providers,” said Cohort Go chief executive Mark Fletcher.

“Our research shows that these students are underwhelmed by their current, mostly privately-rented accommodation.”

Fletcher added the average rating provided an opportunity for purpose-built providers, which currently represent 8% of the market, to deliver specialised services for international students.

“I think what we see with the purpose-built student accommodation providers… they provide a really streamlined experience and a superior experience than those that are living in private rentals,” he told The PIE News.

While an opportunity for purpose-built providers, Fletcher added education agents had a substantial role to play after the report found a correlation between dissatisfaction and pre-departure research.

“It really came through that the more preparation that was done, the greater the satisfaction was for the international student,” he said.

Only 12% of students used an education agent to find living arrangements, Fletcher said, with counsellors five times as likely to assist students to find other services such as OSHC.

“There is a big opportunity for education agents and providers to work together to showcase the best that student accommodation providers have to offer.”

In 2018, reports that six international students were found living in a 24-hour study facility lead to calls from the sector for more purpose-built and affordable accommodation options.

SourceAAP:thepienews.com

Private providers want single funding system for higher ed: Exclusive

Private education companies want the Morrison government to merge the entire tertiary education system into one operation.

A new lobby group, the Independent Tertiary Education Council of Australia (ITECA), is being launched on Thursday with the aim of ending what it says is excessive red tape, duplication of effort and discrimination against some students.

The council represents 500 private training-sector companies with enrolments in excess of 2.5 million students.

Chief executive Troy Williams said higher education providers such as the major universities benefit from unparalleled stability and predictability in funding and student loans.

But private educators, which work mainly in the skills training sector, face uncertainty in regulation and finance.

He said this worked against students, especially as the economy was evolving and workers increasingly needed to switch between higher education and the training sector to refresh their skills.

“We need a single funding system for higher education and training,” he said. “Then we can let public and private educators compete to attract students. Students should be able to work with the provider of their choice.”

ITECA has been created out of the old Australian Council for Private Education and Training.

Mr Williams said the council wanted to drive reform of the higher education system. “Australia deserves an integrated tertiary education system in which the higher education, vocational education and training sectors operate as one to deliver students and their employees with the outcomes they are looking for,” he said.

He said sectors should retain their separate identities but, to avoid inequalities like fee discrimination, they should be managed at one level.

Dual-sector universities had to duplicate all their reporting because they answered to two lots of regulators – an excessive cost and time burden.

On Monday TAFE Directors Australia called for the training sector to be put back into the education department. Training was split off the education department in the Morrison cabinet reshuffle in August.

TDA chief executive Craig Robertson said it would be better if all of the education functions of government were under one portfolio and one minister.

Both the university and the training sector said they were having to revise the outlook in view of the Coalition win.

The training sector had been expecting a big boost for TAFEs under Labor and universities had been promised an extra $10 billion.

Labor also promised a review of all post-secondary education which was widely tipped to bring training and universities together.

This would also have equalised the student loan system, which favours university students over people doing training and has led to a sharp rise in university enrolments at the expense of skills enrolments.

The Business Council of Australia has been calling for a single, sector- neutral funding model for post-school education.

This would give all would-be students a subsidy which they could use for skills training or university.

BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott called for a single system of information on higher education that would show students the true cost of the course they are doing, the return they could expect and how long it would take to get their qualification.

The Group of Eight universities supports reform for the skills sector arguing it would be better for the economy overall.

CREDIT: Robert Bolton Education editor

SourceAAP:www.afr.com