Concerns for TAFE SA following MOU sell out

The Australian Education Union (SA Branch) has raised serious concerns over today’s announcement by Minister Gardner regarding the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between TAFE SA and the Independent Tertiary Education Council of Australia (ITECA).

The agreement opens the door to private providers taking up residence at TAFE sites, directing policy and cherry picking the delivery of profitable courses.

ITECA is open about actively pursuing its reform agenda by increasing its private provider members’ share of the vocational education and training sector.

Australian Education Union South Australian President Howard Spreadbury is wary of how TAFE SA and ITECA will work together under this new agreement.

“The two organisations are in direct competition within the same market. Minister Gardner’s statement confirms he will allow private providers to further erode TAFE’s market share, compromise its independence and allow ITECA to push its own agenda,” said Mr Spreadbury.

Instead the AEU is calling for the Marshall Liberal Government to recognise the value of TAFE SA and to return appropriate investment levels, suggesting this would be a more effective way to make it more competitive and sustainable in the long term.

“TAFE SA is the largest provider of vocational education and training in the state and must be valued for its place within the community. TAFE SA provides quality education that is accessible to all, offering pathways for many who may otherwise miss out on opportunities.”

The AEU asserts that TAFE SA is already responsive to the needs of employers and works with industry groups to deliver quality training to build a skilled and sustainable workforce for South Australia.

There are concerns about how TAFE SA facilities may be used in the future. It may end up being more ‘competitive’ for TAFE SA under its new management to lease out its facilities rather than provide courses for students.

“It is like having a ‘fire sale’ after the place has been gutted. Instead of supporting and investing in TAFE SA, the Marshall Government is surrendering its responsibility and handing it over to private providers who are driven by profit,” said Mr Spreadbury.

“Letting private providers access taxpayer-funded facilities and set up in direct competition on TAFE SA’s own doorstep has the potential to undermine TAFE program delivery.”

/Public Release.

Ai Group welcomes focus on VET to drive economy

“Senator Michaelia Cash has today drawn a welcome line in the sand in placing vocational education and training on the same footing as higher education,” Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

“Australian industry is acutely aware that our transforming economy needs workers with the skills and capabilities developed through both sectors if we are to compete globally.

“Senator Cash’s speech at the National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference recognises that the VET system is critical to ensuring industry has the skilled workforce it needs to grow and to compete internationally. It provides the technicians, the tradespeople, the supervisors and the para-professionals that are needed in an Australian workforce adapting to new technologies and higher-level skills and capabilities.

“Digitalisation is transforming the economy and disrupting skill needs. Employers are facing significant skills shortages, particularly for technicians and trades with STEM capabilities, reflecting the changing tasks and jobs being created as new technologies enter all industry sectors. As with higher education, VET is under pressure to develop people with higher order STEM skills and broad enterprise skills for the digital economy. At the same time, it must develop the workers for occupations with innate people skills, such as the growing Community and Personal Services sector.

“Equally welcome is Senator Cash’s call for the VET system to better connect with industry and to have clear, consistent funding. Ai Group maintains that industry must have a stronger role at all levels to work through the current challenges dogging the system. We have previously highlighted that the funding of the VET system is inadequate, in terms of both the level and composition and its resourcing relative to both the higher education and school sectors.

“Ai Group has welcomed the recommendations of the Joyce Review, notably the implementation of a National Skills Commission, the National Careers Institute, apprenticeship reform and the pilot Skills Organisations. All these reforms strengthen VET, ensuring that industry is at the heart of the system that will be vital to develop skills for our future workforce.

“While we welcome the Government’s $525 million skills and training package, seeking amongst other measures to create up to 80,000 new apprentices, Ai Group is keen to work with the Government to implement broader reform. More can and must be done to:

  • align skills from education and training outcomes with industry needs through improved skills forecasting;
  • address critical workforce STEM skills shortages through education and skills training and funding for initiatives that enhance the VET sector’s role in filling these gaps, such as Ai Group’s Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeships;
  • review apprenticeship incentives, placing greater priority on high-skill occupations that will play key roles in the digital economy. In particular we call on the Government to extend the doubling of Commonwealth Employers Incentives to the engineering trades to ensure adequate trade skill development for the large defence procurement and ship building program and the supply chain;
  • support industry to develop workforce plans around their digital strategies, assess existing workers’ capabilities and train when necessary;
  • improve the foundational language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills of entrants to the workforce;
  • increase work-based and work integrated learning models underpinned by closer partnerships between industry and the education and training sector.

“Many of the challenges facing the VET sector are equally those that higher education faces. Ai Group believes there can be greater coherence between VET and higher education which would benefit the nation. Ai Group’s position paper, Realising Potential: solving Australia’s tertiary education, identifies the challenges and makes recommendations for post-secondary education in Australia.

“If the Australian economy is to continue to prosper and remain internationally competitive, it is vital to have access to a highly skilled and qualified workforce. With the rapid advance of technology and digitalisation, a higher level of skills for the workforce is more important than ever,” Mr Willox said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Minister praises vocational study over uni

Michaelia Cash
Minister Michaelia Cash hopes to raise the profile of the vocational education and training sector. (AAP)

Skills and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash wants Australian students to choose vocational training over university study when they finish school.

The federal government hopes Australian students will put their hands up for vocational education over university study.

Skills Minister Michaelia Cash will on Thursday address the vocational education and training sector at a conference in Adelaide, outlining the Morrison government’s aims for the field.

Senator Cash hopes to raise the profile of the sector to ensure it’s the first pick for students choosing their next steps after high school.

“It is a valuable career choice for many Australians and should not be seen as being something less important than a university degree,” she will say.

“We know that people with VET qualifications are highly regarded and sought after by employers, but we need more people to choose VET as their path to success.”

Senator Cash will also urge education providers to work closer with industry to ensure students receive better training.

“Employers look to vocationally trained workers because of their suitability in skills and experience,” she will say.

“Australia’s VET system must better connect with industry, respond to community needs and have clear, consistent funding.”

There were more than 250,000 apprentices and trainees at the end of last year, while more than four million Australians undertook vocational education and training in 2017.

Under the Morrison government’s $525 million plan, up to 80,000 extra apprenticeships will be created over the next five years in areas with skills shortages.

Youth unemployment in regional Australia will also be combated, with 400 scholarships on offer to the value of $8 million.

Escape from country, but not your student loans

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will be contacting Australian expats this year reminding them that leaving Australia doesn’t mean leaving their student loans behind.

As at 31 January, there are over 3.2 million Australians with outstanding student loan debts, totalling over $66 billion. The ATO will be engaging with the Department of Home Affairs to identify those who leave or have already departed Australia. Individuals who leave or have already departed Australia with Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), Vocational Education & Training student loan (VSL) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) debts can expect to be contacted by the ATO in the coming months.

“We know it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of moving overseas. That’s why we’re reminding expats about obligations they may have forgotten back home,” said Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat.

“On average, it takes someone nine years to pay off their HELP debt. But for Australians who travel overseas and don’t make any repayments, it takes significantly longer.

“Moving overseas does not cancel student loan debts and your repayment obligations do not change with your address. Current laws give us the power to pursue these debts overseas,” Ms Foat said.

Under new rules, Australians with an income contingent loan travelling overseas need to notify the ATO of their new address and lodge an overseas travel notification. They should also report their worldwide income if they earn over $11,470 (AUD). Expats can lodge their tax returns through ATO’s online services via myGov.

“Expats should know that once their income reaches the new threshold of $45,881 for 2019-20, they need to be making repayments, just like anyone living in Australia,” Ms Foat said.

Individuals within Australia who have an income contingent loan are also required to make compulsory repayments against their study or training loan debt. The income threshold for 2019-20 is $45,881. It is important to tell your employer you have a study or training loan debt, so that the correct amount is withheld from your salary or wages.

More information on overseas repayments:

More information on study and training support loans:

Details of the ATO’s data matching strategies are published at

Accessing myGov from overseas

If you can’t receive security codes by SMS to your Australian mobile number overseas, before you travel download the ‘myGov Access app’ to update your myGov sign-in option.

If you have a myGov account linked to the ATO and answer a secret question to sign in, you can continue using this option whilst overseas.

If security codes by SMS are switched on but you don’t have access to your Australian mobile number overseas, you will not be able to login your account. You’ll need to create a new myGov account and link to the ATO, you can do this whilst overseas using the ‘myGov Access app’ as your sign-in option.

Income contingent loans include:

Income Contingent loan No. of individuals Amount owed
HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) 2.8 million $62.9 billion
SFSS (Student Financial Supplement Scheme) – scheme closed in 2003 165,409 $2.1 billion
SSL (Student Start-up Loan) 161,768 $406 million
ABSTUDY SSL 3,119 $7.2 million
TSL (Trade Support Loan) 88,926 $631.6 million
VSL (Vocational Education & Training student loan) from 1 July 2019 n/a n/a

Top 5 international destinations for Australians with income contingent loans

Top 5 Country Number of Australians
1 United Kingdom 12,296
2 United States 5,569
3 New Zealand 2,632
4 Canada 2,444
5 Hong Kong 2,111
/Media Release. View in full here.


EDministrate is a consultancy business focused on helping providers of Vocational Education and Training services grow and improve. We offer a range of specialised products and services related to quality, audit and compliance for Registered Training Organisations.
We are committed to providing excellence in the work we do to support our clients, focusing on improving productivity and performance for their organisations as we understand the dynamic and challenging environments they operate in.

Vocational education and training in spotlight at roundtable talks


  • Indonesian-Australian talks will focus on VET in mining and tourism sectors
  • Indonesia is the biggest economy in South-East Asia


Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley will participate in roundtable talks today aimed at improving Western Australia’s offering of vocational education and training (VET) in the mining and tourism sector for Indonesia.

The roundtable was jointly organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Canberra; the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Perth; the Indonesian Investment Promotion Centre, Sydney; the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre, Sydney; and the Australia Indonesia Business Council.

Western Australia already contributes up to 40 per cent of Australia’s total exports to Indonesia. Events such as the Indonesia-Australia Roundtable are key drivers to supporting the upskilling of Indonesia’s workforce through the promotion of VET opportunities.

It is anticipated that the March signing of the long-awaited Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will come under the spotlight during the roundtable.

The IA-CEPA offers new opportunities for Indonesians to receive training from Australian training providers in both Indonesia and Australia, and to grow the number of Indonesian students seeking to study in Australia.

Indonesian students made up 2.2 per cent (1,121) of WA’s international student population in 2018 – the 16th biggest student population by nationality in the State.

Increasing the number of Indonesian students will help boost the local economy, create jobs and add to the social and cultural vibrancy of the broader community in WA.

As stated by Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley:

“Roundtables such as these are vitally important for WA’s VET ties with Indonesia which is already a key regional and global player and forecast to become the world’s fourth biggest economy by 2050.

“Given our special relationship with our nearest Asian neighbour, we need to work harder to improve its current ranking of 16th place in the rankings by nationality of students in WA and encourage more Indonesian students to live and study in Perth.”

As stated by Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:

“These roundtable discussions help develop important networks and increase VET opportunities in neighbouring countries.

“Encouraging Indonesian students to engage with WA’s education service providers will help boost our economy and create jobs.”

/Public Release. View in full here.

Business welcomes Prime Minister’s emphasis on workplace relations and skills

Australia’s largest and most representative business network, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment to review Australia’s Industrial Relations system and reform Vocational Education and Training.

“It is fitting that the Prime Minister set out an agenda to lift productivity, with an emphasis on workplace relations and skills, at a Chamber of Commerce event in Western Australia today,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said.

“During the Federal Election the Australian Chamber, on behalf of our chamber of commerce and industry association members, called for collaboration not conflict in workplace relations and action to address the collapse in skills. These issues are critically important for business, particularly small businesses which make up 98% of all business and employ over five million Australians.

“We agree with the Prime Minister that reforms to vocational training are a high priority. We must address the real funding decline across the entire system, as well as the collapse in apprenticeship numbers.

“This issue can only be solved through all Governments working cooperatively with industry, so it is good to hear it is a first-order issue for COAG.

“We look forward to working with the Minister for Employment, Skills, and Small & Family Business Michaelia Cash, as she implements decisions made in the Budget to establish a National Skills Commission and Career Institute.

“We strongly support the Prime Minister’s announcement to take a fresh look at the workplace relations system.

“Our members have told us repeatedly that the current system is a minefield of unnecessary processes, procedures, and legalities which frustrate everyone, employers and employees alike.

“We need practical workplace relations reforms, so that employers and employees can find more productive ways of working and create the rewarding and skilled jobs of the future.

“We cannot afford for Australia’s workplace relations framework to remain a barrier to improved competitiveness and productivity.

“The network of businesses we represent will make a strong business case for sensible improvements. We look forward to working with the Minister for Industrial Relations, Attorney-General Christian Porter, to ensure our workplace relations system encourages job creation, delivers job flexibility for both employers and employees, and is simpler and more practical to use – especially for small businesses.

“We encourage the Parliament to support policies that make Australia a better place to do business – so that Australians can have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire. “

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy, in every corner of Australia. Our Small Business is a Big Deal campaign gives voice to what small businesses need from the federal government, and our Getting on with Business recommends ways to make Australia the best place in the world to do business, so that Australians have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire

/Public Release. View in full here.

‘Repay debt for years’: loan changes to hit 136,000 students

More than 136,000 young Australians are soon to join the ranks of 617,000 former students who are repaying their Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) – formerly known as HECS debt – as the income threshold for repaying the debt is slashed to just $45,881.

The Coalition has dramatically cut the threshold for making repayments over the past three years in a bid to step up the recovery of outstanding student debts, which have soared from about $18 billion in 2009 to almost $62 billion in 2018.

Kate Clayton has a HELP debt of about $60,000, and will likely start repaying it next year when she expects to be working full-time.
Kate Clayton has a HELP debt of about $60,000, and will likely start repaying it next year when she expects to be working full-time.CREDIT:LUIS ENRIQUE

A year ago, the threshold for someone earning income from employment before having to make student debt repayments was cut to just under $52,000, from about $56,000 in the 2017-18.

It is not just graduates who will have to start paying back their student debts. Those still studying who earn enough to push them above the salary threshold will still be required to make repayments.

For many, especially those living independently in Sydney and Melbourne, that is going to put their finances under strain.

For many, especially those living independently in Sydney and Melbourne, that is going to put their finances under strain.

Kate Clayton, 22, is a Masters of International Relations student at the University of Melbourne who will be graduating in December. She’s worked throughout her degree and expects to be working full-time next year.

She expects to earn above the salary threshold and to have to start repaying her student debt of about $60,000.

Kate, who rents, is careful with every dollar of her spending. She hardly ever eats out and is a vegetarian because it is cheaper than eating meat.

While she is not complaining, she says her finances are going to continue to be tight for the foreseeable future.

“The lowering of the salary threshold for the repayment of my student debt has made me question whether to pursue a PhD in the future,” she says.

“I feel the need to seek full-time work, in order to get saving for a house deposit and to help me become more financially secure. I expect to be paying off my student debt for years,” Kate says.

Desiree Cai, national president of the National Union of Students, says new graduates are being given less time to build their financial security before they have to start repaying their HELP loan.

She points out that the lower HELP repayment threshold is not all that far away from the full-time minimum wage.

“There’s a lot of stress and worry for graduates on low incomes who might struggle to make ends meet,” she says.

A report by the Parliamentary Library shows the average amount of outstanding student debt in 2017-18 was $21,557, up from $20,303 in 2016-17 and from just over $10,000 in 2006.

The number of people with a HELP debt in 2017-18 was 2.87 million, up from 2.66 million in 2016-17 and 1.37 million in 2008-09.

In March 2018, then minister for education and training in the Turnbull government, Simon Birmingham, said cuts to the threshold were necessary to ensure “our world-leading HELP system is sustainable into the future”.

He said that, under the old system, about a quarter of the debt was never expected to be repaid and the rate of increase in the debt was “unsustainable”.

Under the way that HELP repayment is structured, the higher the taxable income, the higher the percentage of that income is deducted by the Australian Tax Office to repay the debt.

For those earning between $45,881 and $52,973 during 2019-20, the repayment rate will be 1 per cent of salary. That means those falling in this income bracket will pay roughly $10 a week off their student debt.

Between $52,974 and $56,151, the repayment is 2 per cent of income and rising in 0.5 percentage point increments up the taxable income scale.

At $134,573, repayments hit more than 10 per cent of income. That is a significant increase for those on higher incomes.

In the current financial year, those earning $107,214 and more repaid 8 per cent of their income.

The debt is increased each year by the rate of inflation.

Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton says because of the way the repayments schedule will change on July 1, most people earning between $60,000 and $95,000 will actually be repaying a smaller portion of their income than they do now.

“Overall, I think requiring people on lower income to repay has been a reasonable response by government to the problem,” he says.

Norton says a major reason for the growth in the typical HELP loan size is that more people are completing post-graduate studies.

You can use our tax interactive to find out the percentage of workers in your profession and tax bracket that have a HECS debt:

Tertiary reforms will destroy regional education and apprenticeships

The New Zealand National Party

Labour’s tertiary education reforms will be even wider than first thought and will strip power and assets from regional polytechnics, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The reforms will mean regional polytechnics will be renamed as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). After two years they will be amalgamated.

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

“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.

“For high performing polytechs like the Southern Institute of Technology this will be devastating. Education Minister Chris Hipkins is pushing ahead with ideology over what is best for students and regional New Zealand. The paper shows enrolments will likely fall over the two year transition period and perhaps beyond that.

“More than a thousand jobs all over New Zealand will be lost.

“Subsidiaries will exist for two years before consolidation. Current boards will be sacked on day one, including local members and will be replaced by a subsidiary board, and regional leadership groups will be advisory only.

“There will no longer be out of region provision, like the Otago Polytechnic campus in Auckland. This has been a critical way of recruiting learners to the regions.

“The Cabinet paper also details that the industry body which looks after apprentices (ITOs) will be dissolved over a two year period. At the moment the industry organises placements for apprentices because they understand the needs of industry and who will be the best fit for them. That will now be taken from them and given to polytechs who won’t have the resources and skills to manage that.

“National has released this information because we believe these reforms will be disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships. We are bringing this information forward to try to stop the Government from going ahead with this.

“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to communities. We will return polytechnic decision making back to communities and the regions. We will return apprentices to industry. Mr Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions alone.

“National will fight these reforms, we will fight for regional New Zealand and we will fight against idealistic educational reforms.”

The following is a paragraph from the Cabinet paper.


  1. This paper seeks to reform New Zealand’s Vocational Education system, following public consultation.
  2. This paper proposes to move from a system where vocational education is primarily split between eleven industry training organisations (ITOs) delivering work-based training and sixteen institutes of technology (ITPs) delivering provider-based training, to an integrated model where around 4-7 workforce development councils (WDCs) have oversight of all vocational education, which is primarily delivered by a single institution spread across a range of regional campuses. Provisionally titled the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, this institution would deliver both work-based and provider-based training. Wānanga and PTEs would continue to be important contributors to the system.
  3. A companion paper sets out fiscal implications, and seeks agreement to initial appropriations to support the reforms.
  4. A public-facing ‘change document’, a summary of submissions, a Regulatory Impact Assessment, and a Programme Business Case are all attached to this paper.
/Public Release. View in full here.

TVET to collaborate with China in Technological and Vocational Education

Kieni Technical Vocational College in Nyeri,on March 23,2019. [Kihu/Standard]

The government has said it will continue with its reforms within the Technical, Vocational, Education and Training sector (TVET) with the aim of enrolling at least 5 million youths in the institutions by 2022.These reforms will be considered as part of the government’s procedures to address the level of unemployment in the country and bridge the skills gaps identified by potential employers.Speaking at the first ever China and Africa TVET Cooperation conference, the Deputy Director of TVET in the Ministry of Education Bernard Shikoli affirmed that the collaboration is guaranteed to strengthen and revitalise the TVET sector.“I applaud this initiative and give assurance of the ministry’s commitment and support for cooperation in Technical and vocational education with the Chinese technical and vocational institutions,” said Shikoli.

SEE ALSO :MPs want prompt funding for TVET

He added that this collaboration is supposed to help in achieving the Big Four Agenda as well as the Vision 2030.The National polytechnics and Technical Vocational colleges have recorded an increase from 2017 where they registered 98,000 youths compared to the 181,000 youths registered in 2019.Shikoli similarly noted that the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) allocation and capacitation needed to be increased with aim of matching the uptake of trainees in the TVET institutions.“We are also going to deploy about 2000 trainers across the TVET programmes in technical colleges to enhance the deliverance of much needed information,” said Shikoli.He declared that the steps taken will enable the youth to be equipped enough to be absorbed in the manufacturing sector as competent employees.

SEE ALSO :New SDA Conference registered as wrangles intensify

The Head of Kinyanjui Technical Institute Sam Waititu attested to the deliverance of advanced equipment in technical institutes.“The equipment is both manual and computerised, which I believe has built confidence in students in terms of enrolling in TVET institutes,” said Waititu.