Posted on 25. Oct, 2011 in News

The Baillieu Government’s public consultation on the Essential Services Commission Vocational Education and Training (VET) fee and funding review is nothing more than a smoke and mirrors exercise, Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships, Steve Herbert said today.

Mr Herbert said the Essential Services Commission’s (ESC) review proposes 43 far-reaching changes to the VET sector which demand longer consultation.

“The Government is proposing major reforms to VET fees and funding arrangements, but has restricted sector and community consultation to only two weeks,” Mr Herbert said.

“The Baillieu Government is attempting to rush through consultation, when the public is preoccupied with the Queen’s visit and Melbourne Cup.

“The sham consultation corresponds with the announcement of funding cuts to TAFE and fee rises for apprentices.

“It appears that as a result of these latest funding cuts, large metropolitan TAFEs will be $5million to $8 million worse off each year, and
regional TAFEs will be $500,000 – $700,000 worse off each year.

“There is grave concern within the education sector that the funding cut and review is more about finding the Baillieu Government’s $481 million education funding cuts than it is about quality vocational education and training.

“This is a cynical exercise from Mr Baillieu and his Higher Education Minister, Peter Hall, who are desperately seeking to avoid discussion because the changes could lead to course cuts, staff losses and escalating student fees,” he said.

Mr Herbert said the changes could force providers to lay off staff, close facilities or cancel courses.

“The Baillieu Government promised that no student would be worse off and front line services would not be impacted by education budget cuts, but their actions tell a different story.

“Minister Hall has said that these recommendations provide ‘considerable food for thought’ and that ‘the proposals are expected to promote debate and discussion among training providers and members of the public’.

“Minister Hall needs to allow enough time for stakeholders to have that debate and discussion about these major reforms,” Mr Herbert said.

The ESC review recommends an increasingly market-based model of VET funding, where demand for courses would have a greater bearing on fees.

The ESC review recommendations include:

  • Revising the maximum tuition fee rates and fee structure following an independent cost and pricing review.
  • Increasing and then eventually removing the maximum hourly rate in areas/courses with greater competition.
  • Indexing tuition fees annually.
  • Removing maximum and minimum category fees and the annual caps.
  • Establishing a market oversight body, to monitor competition within different sectors of the VET market and remove caps on tuition fees so that providers would be free to compete on price.
  • Removing the VTG’s exemption arrangements, and replacing them with targeted concessions.

“Rushing through such substantial changes to VET without proper consultation is a recipe for disaster.”




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