The government’s short-course skill plan is politically astute, putting policy into practise will take some thought
People suffering COVID-19 job-losses learning in-demand skills in quick time at low cost (HECS-able $1250-$2500) suits the national circumstances.
But universities will need to want to participate: Learned readers wise in the ways of funding models suggest payments under the new scheme could be a third to a fifth less than the EFTSL discipline-amount for Commonwealth Supported Places for six months. And enrolments will have to take a university above funded-load for a course-area. So, it will be up to individual institutions to decide whether participating is worthwhile.
Open Universities Australia think some will: Last night OUA announced it will waive fees for partner universities listing courses in health, nursing, education, IT and the sciences.
And the government has a bigger objective:There’s more to this than relief for institutions that need the money. It is a test-run (albeit a run on the run) for a substantial restructure of skills delivery to come. “The government will work with universities to give them more flexibility to adjust between bachelor places and sub bachelor and postgraduate places, pending legislative reform to lock in this more flexible model for the future,” according to a briefing note yesterday. And numbers appear uncapped!
Of course, there is a plenty to ponder on how the now unaccredited “higher-education certificates” will be credited to Australian Qualification Framework courses. Curriculum experts were in diplomas of delight as they pondered how the certificates would fit into the AQF. They will have to be quick to work it out. The programme only lasts for six months. But if it works it could create a new foundation for micro-skills training which would have taken years for state and federal officials to argue out.