The Senate education and employment references committee is inquiring into the shambles in South Australia’s TAFE system. The inquiry follows training regulator ASQA cancelling accreditation of a bunch of courses but only a cynic would suggest that the federal government is using the inquiry to embarrass the state government in the lead-up to the SA election and stop Labor arguing that public sector training is good and private providers bad.
To date, friends of TAFE are making the running.
University of Queensland economist John Quiggin, argues in his inquiry submission that the problems in SA TAFE are due to funding cuts and “ideologically driven projects of marketisation.” “Funding for TAFE should be increased and for-profit providers excluded from direct funding,” he states.
VET commentator Gavin Moodie argues the problem with training is not just in SA, and is caused by “several states” making “ill considered attempts to allocate public subsidies to private for-profit providers while concurrently removing caps on the number of places they subsidised, and subsequently sought to correct or reverse the excesses that these dysfunctional policies financed.”
He also points to funding cuts and state-national policy fragmentation adding that the Senate is not helping; “This review of Tafe SA perpetuates and exacerbates this fragmentation of vocational education and training policy, as if the South Australian Government’s policy and funding of vocational education and training were unrelated to its funding agreements with the Australian Government, vocational education student loans, standards, quality assurance and related issues.”
It’s early days, with the inquiry not reporting until the end of February and only three submissions filed, but CMM suspects that supporters of the public system will continue to make the running.