In 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed on a vision for vocational education and training (VET) to position the sector as responsive, dynamic and trusted. To deliver on this vision, COAG tasked Skills Council with developing a VET Reform Roadmap (the Roadmap). Skills Council has asked senior officials in all jurisdictions to work together to develop a Roadmap for consideration by Ministers and endorsement by COAG by the middle of 2020. Skills officials have developed a consultation draft of the Roadmap. This draft is a working document of the Skills Senior Officials’ Network; it has not been reviewed or endorsed by governments or COAG.
The opposition’s education and training spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has accused the Morrison government of ripping $3 billion from TAFE and training contributing to a national skills shortage.
Vocational Education & Training
The Australian Government has announced that the VET Student Loan limits have been increased for a number of courses, with the changes scheduled to come into effect from today, 29 January 2020. More than one hundred courses have seen the VET Student Loan cap increase, reflecting advocacy undertaken by ITECA and other stakeholders to ensure students have access to loans that more closely reflect the cost of delivery.
Key Issues —
The VET Student Loans program assists eligible students pay tuition fees for approved higher-level (diploma and above) vocational education and training (VET) courses, when studying at approved course providers.
The Australian Government assesses whether a course is eligible for a VET Student Loan and the maximum loan cap for that course. There have been some expected removals and additions to the eligible courses; however, of considerable interest is the increase in the loan cap for a number of courses.
There were sixteen courses removed from the list that are now non-current, deleted, or have been superseded for more than twelve months. These were in areas including racing services, industrial design, food processing, geosciences and seafood processing. Existing VSL students can continue to be taught-out (and access VSL) in accordance with the regulatory standards.
There have been twenty-two courses added to the list as now meeting the VSL criteria: being either on at least two state and territory subsidy/skills lists; a STEM related course; or required by a jurisdiction for licensing purposes for a particular occupation. These courses are in areas including electrotechnology project management, horticultural science, local government, and water industry operations. Replacement courses for previous superseded or non-current courses have also been added to the list and these make up the majority of the additions.
Changes In Loan Caps —
More than one hundred courses will experience an increase in the loan caps, in some cases for specific providers. Several principles have been applied to identify courses to move up one cap band. Loan caps were moved where program data for completed VSL students indicated the cap was not sufficient to cover at least 80 per cent of full fee paying students. Loan caps were moved up a band to at least match the states and territories’ price for subsidised students since, by definition, states cannot subsidise by more than the full fee cost of a course. Courses have not been moved in cases where there was either insufficient evidence from VSL program data or a lack of state and territory price and subsidy information.
The full list of changes was published by the Australian Government on 28 January 2020, taking effect from 29 January; the changes can be downloaded from:
VSL Provider Information —
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) supported a number of members that made direct representations to government when the VSL loan cap were heavily mismatched against the price of delivery. It is pleasing to see that there was an increase in the VSL cap in most of these cases.
In November 2019, COAG Skills Ministers announced a review of VET Student Loans that will examine scope for greater parity of access for students across Australia taking into account state subsidy arrangements and alternative higher education options. These issues will be discussed at the 2020 Vocational Education & Training Business Summit to be held on 7 February 2020 in Sydney. Information is available online at:
ITECA Event Information —
The COAG review of VET Student Loans will be completed in April 2020 and inform future changes to the program in alignment with broader VET Reform work underway. The next update to the VSL course list is scheduled for January 2021.
The VET Student Loans program is of considerable interest to the independent tertiary education sector. As the ITECA State of The Sector Report notes, independent providers support more than 58% of the students undertaking a VET Diploma or higher qualification.
Member Engagement —
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Vocational Education Reference Committee.
Further Information —
For more information on this issue please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison appeared at the National Press Club last week in what is seen traditionally as the launch of the political year.
While the summer has already been packed with political action, which he responded to, he reminded Australia of his commitment to VET reform.
“Skills reform will be a priority for COAG discussions in March and beyond and I want to thank the states and territories, premiers and chief ministers, for their commitment to that agenda,” he said.
He also mentioned the $50 million commitment to TAFE Revitalisation which has been authorised and will deliver “infrastructure projects, refurbish facilities, and purchase specialist training equipment”.
“ASQA is being reformed to improve its governance, accountability and engagement with the sector.
“And we’re making it easier for many VET students to access courses by increasing the size of loans available for around one-quarter of all eligible courses. That was signed off last week and I will expand further on all of these issues and the economic plan on other occasions,” he said.
See the the PM’s National Press Club address.
Message from ASQA’s Chief Commissioner
Happy new year and welcome to our first ASQA Update in 2020. While I hope you all had a safe and relaxing holiday season, I’d like to acknowledge the difficult time faced by many as a result of the unprecedented bushfires across Australia. My colleagues and I extend our thoughts to everyone affected. I reiterate our previous advice to providers affected by these events to please contact us if you require any regulatory activity to be placed on hold or extensions of time to provide information.
During 2020, we will continue to increase our engagement with the VET sector and expand our education program. We have just launched our new website, which is aimed at delivering the information you need easily and simply, and we are in the process of organising more events like the webinars delivered towards the end of 2019.
Another important milestone for 2020 will be the outcome of the rapid review of ASQA. I’d like to thank all stakeholders who have provided feedback. We are looking forward to working with the outcomes of the review and continuing ASQA’s evolution to support a vibrant and high-quality VET sector.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous year.
Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer
Australian Skills Quality Authority
The Department of Education has shared a notice from the Department of Health for vocational education and training providers regarding the coronavirus situation.
If a student or staff member has been informed by health authorities that they are a close contact of a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and have developed symptoms, they are advised to contact their local Public Health unit for assessment.
They cannot attend their vocational education facility until Public Health informs them that it is safe for them to do so. If they have not developed symptoms, they should monitor their health closely but should not be excluded from attending their vocational education facility.
If a student or staff member has a recent travel history to mainland China and develops symptoms, they should contact their primary care provider. Their primary care provider will liaise with Public Health units and determine whether or not the student/staff member needs to be excluded from their vocational education facility.
If a student or staff member has travelled to mainland China and has not developed any of the symptoms, they may attend their vocational education facility and should not be excluded.
To read the advice in full, download the document here.
2020 VDC Professional Learning Program Released
The VDC 2020 Professional Learning Program is now available. An extensive range of new and existing continuous PD opportunities are scheduled in the form of workshops, webinars, free thought leaders functions as well as industry symposiums for the Semester 1 program between January and June 2020.
Changing young peoples’ perception of TAFE and VET
June/July last year saw Year13 and YouthSense conduct a national survey of Australian youth to understand how much young people understand of TAFE and VET.
They also wanted to get a handle on their perceptions and pre-conceived ideas about these education pathways. Here’ s what they found.
Online delivery of VET qualifications: what’s the story?
Online delivery is used extensively as part of the delivery approach for many VET qualifications. But, what is the story when it is the major or only form of delivery?
A recent report from NCVER takes a look at this issue.