Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Extend Vocational Education Reforms to Australian Universities?

Reforms to the Australian Vocational education and Training  (VET) Student Loans program will come into effect on 1 January 2017. These will:
  • "limit eligibility to courses to those that align with industry needs and have a high likelihood of leading to employment opportunities
  • cap loans at $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 to reflect the cost of delivery (with higher caps for courses with high delivery costs such as aviation)
  • require students to regularly engage with the VET Student Loans online portal to ensure they are active and their enrolments are legitimate 
  • set a much higher bar for providers to enter the program, with a new application process to assess providers’ relationships with industry, student completion rates, employment outcomes, and their track record as education institutions
  • strengthen legislative, compliance and payment conditions, including increased powers to suspend poor performing providers from the program, cancel their payments and revoke their approval
  • ban brokers, cold-calling, providers using third party lists to contact students, or incentive-based sales tactics
  • limit the subcontracting of training to stop providers ‘selling access’ to higher-fee loans arrangements to training organisations that don’t meet the higher bar to qualify."
From "Stronger vocational education system delivered", Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, 1 December 2016
It will be interesting to see if the government brings in similar reforms for the university sector, which has its own loans scheme on which the failed VET scheme was based. While there is not the same level of misuse of the university scheme apparent, there is currently no requirement for university programs to align with industry need. If students were also required to undertake Higher Education in smaller increments (first a month long VET Cert IV, then a six month university Certificate, followed by university programs each of no more than two years) these measures would reduce cost and boost completion rates.

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