The end of demand driven funding was not the only enrolment hit universities copped at the end of last year. The government also cancelled a proposal for them to expand into sub degree courses. But this will not end blurring between HE and VET. In the UK degree apprenticeships, in largely white collar industries, is talked up and here the public training system is looking for ways to grow. TAFE Directors Australia’s budget submission proposes ending the $15 000 cap on VET student loans so it can offer higher-tech courses.
“Now that the VET Students Loans has been implemented and has thus far shown itself to be resistant to the excesses of the previous VET FEE-HELP scheme, TDA recommends the government adjust the scheme so it can meet the real costs of quality training, and aim to meet the demands of students as they seek to build their skills profile and career prospects in a changing economic environment,” TDA proposes.
This would be useful for the 11 TAFEs that are already HE providers and which TDA also thinks should have access to higher education funding. “TDA acknowledges that this proposal runs counter to the current cap on growth in university places but contends that it would be a modest increase in outlays and paves the way for a more diversified tertiary education sector.”
Which is the point. With DDF gone university leaders need new proposals to get back into the policy game – there is talk of a grand review of post-compulsory education. The problem for the universities is that the broader the debate the more vocal other voices will be. Voices who have not annoyed the government as much as the universities did last year.