Regulations driving learning resources students can use

As Australia moves to “COVID-normal”, it is timely to consider whether tertiary education will revert to previous levels of face-to-face teaching and, as a former regulator, what that means from a regulatory perspective?


While regulation was not cited as a factor in the shift to more on-line/blended learning reported in the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning (ACODE) January 2021 White Paper; in a recent project with Conor King – a number of senior university figures cited Section 3.3 of the Higher Education Standards Framework as a significant barrier to students paying for essential learning materials, which in turn has meant institutions increasingly making all learning resources available in their (on-line) learning management systems.

While higher education students can still purchase additional learning resources, the Standards are understood to mean that universities must make all learning materials available to students at no cost. Universities are therefore rapidly moving to make greater use of their LMS.

And what about VET – where Industry Reference Committees set the rules mandating when training must take place in a workplace and/or whether a simulated environment is appropriate?

During COVID many IRCs were loath to trust simulated learning environments, instead preferring no training take place at all. That contrasts with the 2.1 million community college students in California who had access to simulated labs during COVID.

With a recent ASQA report showing that nine in 10 respondents to an online poll of 1,651 people had moved their delivery on-line last year, it is clear that providers are recognising the benefits of online education.

According to Minister Robert, speaking at an online CEDA event last week, the VET sector is on the verge of “substantial changes… to the way in which qualifications and competencies are designed, built and updated”. The changes will reduce the time taken to develop new qualifications to “no more than 90 days” and will result in a “system led by industry, for industry.”

It remains to be seen what these changes will mean for the sector and for more flexible delivery in VET.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector