One must try and remain positive, and I remain very proud of the many private and public providers I know and respect for their genuine commitment to education. We still have a system that produces great results, though I acknowledge that it gets little airplay at the moment.
I also remain committed to cleaning out ACPET’s membership, with the view to ensuring we do represent those colleges that stand for ethics and quality in tertiary education. I acknowledge we are not there yet.
It has been pleasing to receive a surprising amount of support over the last few weeks, where ACPET has strongly stated its case that only those genuinely committed to quality education have a role in this proud sector.
I am very confident that the cream will rise to the top. It always does. I now often wonder how best to fasten that journey. We are still working across a range of areas that will make a difference, though time is of the essence.
We should not lament that all is ruined because it is not. The many providers delivering fees for service training, State and Territory funded qualifications, and many offering VFH are continuing to deliver a quality product.
However, there are some issues across areas of VET FEE HELP delivery. Let’s start with the data:
- Student loans have more than doubled to $1.74B in 2014
- Since commencing in 2009, $3.1B has been funded
- Student numbers increased by 103% to 202,800 from 2013 to 2014
- Nearly half of students are under 25, and 66% are women
- 44% of enrolments are in management and commerce
- IT enrolments have increased by 560%, as the fees for IT increased by 85%
- Online students increased by 57% and now make up 47% of all enrolments
- Completion rates remain at about 10% below that of the sector average
- On-line VFH completion sits at a 7% completion rate compared to 23% for students funded outside of the program
- The tuition fees for students increased by 29% in the last year, almost tripling since 2011, and
- Agriculture and related course fees increased by 61% and mixed field by 64%.
I don’t really think I need to say anymore. You can see from the numbers that the sector does need to lift its game. VFH is a critically important program for Australia’s future. As the only real growing fund source, quality qualifications can fuel the skills, innovation and entrepreneurship needed in our future economy. It is that important.
Looking at the trends and the outcomes from the VFH investment, we must do better.
We are all citizens and have both the right and responsibility to demand proper outcomes from any government investment. While the accounting treatment might be different, student loans, bankrolled by the government, must produce results at least equivalent to those elsewhere in the sector and put simply, at the moment, it is not.
Our collective voice is needed. I have discussed the problems with government, industry, public and private providers and industry, to name a few. Despite all having different angles, politics and desires, all unite in the belief both in the sector and of the many quality providers.
All also lament where we are now.
Where to – now that is the question.
I look forward to continuing the discussions with many of you with a sense of urgency. As an industry, we can show the way.