Australian Industry Updates – February 2020

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Product Management

The beginning of the calendar year is always brimming with education industry updates, and we’ve been staying on top everything so that we can deliver the best, most-relevant bits to our network.

Read on for some updates for our Aussie readers!

ASQA Changes

As part of the Federal Government’s ‘Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow’ package, the government is working on reforms to ensure that ‘ASQA is a modern and effective regulator focused on fostering excellence across the sector.’

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector. ASQA regulates courses and training providers to ensure nationally approved quality standards are met.

Since announcing the ‘rapid’ review into ASQA in late October 2019, there have been consultations and independent regulatory experts involved in assessing the reforms that need to take place to best improve ASQA’s ability to:

  • Provide best practice governance, regulatory practices and processes
  • Continue to support high-quality student outcomes.

This rapid review was scheduled for completion early in 2020.

In the meantime, the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Bill 2020 was introduced into parliament on February 13th, which will represent some fairly significant changes to the way that ASQA operates, including:

  • replacing the existing Chief Commissioner / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and two Commissioners with a single independent statutory office holder.
  • introduces an advisory council comprising experts from regulatory practice, sector and business engagement, and education and training.

This current Bill is aimed at supporting future changes that will improve ASQA’s transparency, effectiveness and efficiency, following the outcomes of the independent ASQA Review.

$18.0 million

has been set aside towards the ASQ reforms

VET Student Loans Changes

In line with the broader VET reforms that the Government announced in 2019, the VET Student Loans (VSL) program is also being reviewed.

As of 29th January 2020, VET Student Loan limits have been increased for a number of courses.

16 courses have been removed for 2020, while 22 courses have been added.

More than 100 courses have seen their caps increase, based on whether the previous cap (maximum loan amount) was not sufficient to cover at least 80% of full fee-paying students.

Courses have also had their loan caps increased to ensure that their funding matched the states and territories’ pricing for subsidised students.

A COAG (Council of Australian Governments) VSL Review is expected to be finalised in April 2020, which will also inform any changes to VET Student Loans.

The next VSL course list update is scheduled for January 2021.

Consolidation of Government Departments

As of February 1st 2020, the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business has merged with the Department of Education, forming the new ‘Department of Education, Skills and Employment’.

The aim for the Government in regards to the newly formed Department is “..better integrating the Government’s education and skills agenda and ensuring Australians living in regional areas can access the infrastructure and services they need.”

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, and The Hon Steve Irons MP, Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships have maintained their portfolios under the newly consolidated Department.

The new Department ensures that all VET and Higher Education decisions fall under one Department.

Government Funded Courses

The NCVER has just released its report on Government-funded students and courses for January-September 2019.

Some of the high-level data from the report has established that:

  • 1,011,000 students were enrolled in government-funded vocational education and training (VET)
  • 972,900 students enrolled in nationally recognised training
  • 76,100 students enrolled in non-nationally recognised training.

Of these 1, 011, 000 students:

  • 656,400 (55.9%) were enrolled at TAFE Institutes
  • 308,200 (30.5%) were enrolled at private training providers.

Compared to the same period in 2018, there was a 5.5.% increase in government-funded students in 2019, representing a 7.0% increase in TAFE students, and 3.7% increase in students at private education providers.

It will be interesting to see how these numbers compare, following the release of the overall Total VET Students and Courses Report later this year.

Digital Technology Skills Organisation Pilot

A new ‘Digital Skills Organisation Pilot’ was recently announced in January as part of the Australian government’s $585 million ‘Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow’ package.

It is one of three Skills Organisation pilots that will be formed to improve the national training system, and work with existing bodies across the VET sector.

They will work to ‘shape the national training system to be more responsive to its particular skills needs’ and ‘ensuring employers have confidence in the quality of VET graduates.’

The newly formed Pilot will help with:

  • Identifying skills needs
  • Developing qualifications
  • Improving the quality of training and assessment

With the demand for professional, scientific and technical service professionals projected to increase by at least 244,000 by 2024, a focus on the digital technology sector will hopefully make inroads into working towards solving skills shortages in this area and re-skilling the Australian workforce.

We’re looking forward to following all these recent industry developments in more detail, and bringing you more updates over the coming months!

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=100&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Product Management

As Head of Product Management at Candlefox, Claudia is responsible for defining our product strategy so that we can continue to build and deliver innovative solutions for both our B2C Marketplace visitors and B2B partners.

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