Rather than a new review of the VET-higher education interface, as Tanya Plibersek proposes, a new Labor government could re-read the last major policy plan the party commissioned. The Bradley Review filed a decade back concluded;
“If we are to meet the ambitious tertiary participation targets necessary for Australia to remain internationally competitive, a more holistic approach to planning and provision is vital. What is needed is a continuum of tertiary skills provision primarily funded by a single level of government and nationally regulated rather than two sectors configured as at present. Such a model would deliver skills development in ways that are efficient and fit for purpose to meet the needs of both individuals and the economy. Responsibility for the funding and regulation of the tertiary education and training system should rest with the Australian Government and the independent regulatory agency should consolidate all regulatory functions across this tertiary system.”
But as Labor appears intent on a new review, Peter Noonan has ideas on what it should look at. Informed idea, Professor Noonan (now at Victoria U’s Mitchell Institute) was a member of the Bradley Review and has decades’ experience in VET governance and funding policy and planning. He tells CMM that if Ms Plibersek is minister for education after the next election the issues her reviewers should address are:
– A long-term vision for tertiary education in Australia including respective roles of VET and HE
– the future role of TAFE as the public VET provider in that system
– future capacity to meet needs of Australia’s growing population give participation rates are at risk of falling over the next decade
– a funding framework for the tertiary education system, recognising differences between VET and HE, particularly to address funding distortions, such as upfront fees in VET
– specific VET issues particularly national system governance and deficiencies in VET standards and qualifications.
– pathways across the tertiary sector and interface with the senior secondary education.
“The challenge will be to address specific issues in each sector while keeping a broad focus. VET issues are particularly urgent,” Professor Noonan says.