Scott Cam has attended just one event since October last year as the National Career Ambassador despite pocketing $145,000 of his $350,000 18 month-contract. The Block star’s sole public appearance was a press conference alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash to announce his appointment last year. Cam had also appeared in three short videos, made four social media posts and put a profile on a government website.
Australia is at risk of a dire skills shortage in fields such as childcare, aged care, mental health, nursing and trades where demand is surging according to Education think tank the Mitchell Institute due to funding cuts. Read more here: https://www.smh.com.au/
The chair of the Group of Eight elite universities says higher education providers could be more transparent about their enrolment of international students and it was important for the sector to enforce high English language standards.
Facing ongoing concerns about the consequences of universities’ growing reliance on revenue from international students, Group of Eight chair Dawn Freshwater said the presence of foreign students was changing the character of university campuses in a positive way, but also said the sector had to be transparent and protect standards.
Professor Freshwater, vice-chancellor of the University of Western Australia, suggested universities amassed significant volumes of data about their operations and could be more open with it.
“As we horizon scan for our strategies, we are also thinking about size, shape and composition of the university. That means we have very good data already in regards to student numbers at all levels. Of course, I think we could all be more transparent about information that we use to inform our decision-making,” she said.
She added that universities worked hard to ensure compliance with national standards and regulations, which required reporting on key measures of success and quality.
“We could probably do more at making that transparent,” she said.
Universities are being scrutinised for their adherence to language standards imposed on the sector. A report released in recent weeks found some institutions were using backdoor entry programs to allow entry for people with inadequate English.
Asked if all providers were doing the right thing with entrance requirements, Professor Freshwater said standards should be upheld.
“Just like any standards that we would expect of the students coming into university, including prerequisites, we do have a threshold that we expect people to meet in terms of their language standards coming in and their language skills and it’s important for us to uphold those standards,” she said.
Newly-released data from the Department of Education shows there were 630,000 international students in Australia as of June 2019, up 12 per cent from a year earlier. This follows many years of similar growth levels.
Fifty-one per cent of those students were in higher education, 28 per cent in vocational education and training, and 3 per cent in schools. China remains by far the largest source country, providing 29 per cent of the students.
The highest concentrations of international students are at some of Australia’s top universities. They make up about 45 per cent of the student populations at RMIT and Monash University and 40 per cent at the University of Melbourne. They account for about 35 per cent of the students at UNSW and 30 per cent at the University of Sydney.
University of Queensland chancellor Peter Varghese last week warned the sector was locked into a funding model reliant on increasing numbers of international students.
“The big question with international students is what is the right proportion of international students at our campuses before we fundamentally change the character of our universities. Is it a third? Is it half? Is it three-quarters?” he said.
“At the end of the day … we are Australian public institutions and we have a primary obligation to Australian students.”
Andrew Norton, the higher education program director at the Grattan Institute, said many of the issues associated with international education at universities could be solved by tougher language standards.
He has suggested a tighter approach would address concerns around international students’ isolation and integration, impacts on teaching, and effectively moderate numbers by preventing entry of students without adequate proficiency.
Australians seeking to learn or renew their skills and businesses looking for qualified employees will be at the centre of an overhauled vocational education system.
The nation’s leaders have agreed to pull together to make sure the vocational education and training system is working as it needs to in the face of a growing skills shortage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said ensuring Australians were trained for the jobs of a modern economy was one of the biggest challenges the country faced.
“We all want students, whatever age they are, they could be 21, they could be 61 and going through a career change … to have confidence that that system is going to help them with their future intentions and their future careers,” he told reporters after the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns on Friday.
The system needed to be more agile and less bureaucratic.
The “jobs of the future” weren’t just in technology, Mr Morrison said, but increasingly in human services areas such as aged or disability care.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said training more tradies was vital to politicians seeking to build the infrastructure they had all been elected to deliver.
“We have to change the way TAFE and vocational education, non-university pathways are viewed,” he said.
“This is a first-class option, not anything less than that.”
His NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian said that was a point on which all the leaders agreed.
She has called for universities and vocational education to be treated as a single sector, something the Business Council of Australia has also been pushing for over several years.
The COAG communique didn’t go that far, but Ms Berejiklian was happy nonetheless.
Mr Morrison said parents should be confident about their child’s future if they chose to pursue a trade or a skills-based education.
“It is not second prize,” he said.
The federal government funded a National Skills Commission in its April budget to better identify and plan for skills shortages and work with industry to design training courses, but it is yet to be established.
A new COAG Skills Council will present leaders with a reform roadmap for the sector in early 2020.
The leaders also agreed to ask their environment ministers to set a deadline for Australia to stop sending its waste overseas.
The country exported 4.3 million tonnes of waste in 2018 at a cost of $2.8 billion.
They agreed to the fourth national action plan on reducing domestic violence, for more cooperation between the commonwealth and states on how to spend infrastructure money, and to make mental health and reducing suicide a national priority.
However, a deal on permanently funding free preschool for Australia’s four-year-olds was pushed off until early 2020.
Improving vocational education and training for Australians is shaping up to be top of the agenda for the Council of Australian Governments.
The nation’s leaders are preparing to meet in Far North Queensland on Friday, the first time the meeting is being held outside a capital city.
The leaders are expected to consider the recommendations of a recent review that identified a spate of challenges in the education and training sector.
The Australian Industry group is calling for reforms to ensure there are enough skilled Australians to support the government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline, raising concerns about a growing skills shortage and a degraded training system.
Labor has blamed federal government funding cuts for a further drop in completion rates among apprentices and trainees.
Data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research this week shows over two-in-five apprentices and trainees who commenced training in 2014 did not complete their courses.
The NCVER report shows for those who started training in 2014 among all occupations, just 56.7 per cent completed their course, down 3.2 percentage points from those who started in 2013.
Completion rates for trade occupations were down 4.7 percentage points compared to those who started in 2013 and were two percentage points lower for those doing training for non-trade occupations.
Labor’s assistant spokeswoman for skills Ged Kearney says the coalition government has had six years to turn this around but has failed to take action.
She says vocational education has been severely damaged by a cut of more than $3 billion in funding, the closure of TAFE campuses and allowing “dodgy for-profit providers” to gouge the system.
“The VET sector needs immediate and urgent reform,” Ms Kearney said in a statement on Saturday.
She added that while Skills Minister Michaelia Cash says she wants to see the VET and university sectors on equal footing, the Liberals have failed to commit to the funding and reform required to achieve this important outcome.
“The Liberals must put TAFE back at the centre of the sector, tackle the failures of privatisation and fund the sector properly,” she said.
“With youth unemployment stuck at more than double the national average, young people need a decent skills sector that leads them to secure work.”
In 2018, 1.1 million students enrolled in government-funded vocational education and training, a decrease of 1.9 per cent compared to 2017.
Tanya Plibersek has retained her role as shadow education minister in Anthony Albanese’s newly announced shadow cabinet.
Plibersek’s role has been expanded to include the skills, TAFE and apprenticeships portfolio, previously held by retiring senator Doug Cameron.
Plibersek lost her role as shadow minister for women to Julie Collins, who handled the portfolio during the last two years of the Gillard and Rudd governments.
On Twitter, Plibersek wrote that she was “delighted” to stay on as Labor’s education spokesperson.
Ged Kearney and Graham Perrett will serve as assistant shadow ministers for skills and education, respectively.
The Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) congratulated Plibersek on her reappointment.
“We look forward to continuing a positive working relationship with Ms Plibersek and her office,” ISCA executive director Barry Wallett said
“In her time in the portfolio Ms Plibersek has shown great willingness to engage with all school sectors and has made many positive contributions to the national schooling debate.”
Plibersek stepped down as Labor’s deputy leader to make way for Victorian MP Richard Marles, from the state’s right faction.
Leading into the election, Plibersek told EducationHQ about her passion for education.
“I think education is a terrific portfolio for two reasons,” she said.
“It’s a really great way to make a difference in the life of an individual person; it’s really given so many people the key out of generational poverty. It can mean you realise gifts that you never knew you had.
“It really is literally life changing to get a great education, but it’s also a really important driver of prosperity; our economic success as a nation depends on having a highly skilled, inventive, productive workforce.
“So I really like that combination in a portfolio. The social justice elements and the economic elements brought together make it interesting, challenging and inspiring.”