VET is VET and HE is HE, but the twain can meet

Post-school policy expert Tom Karmel calls for a new type of post school education

Dr Karmel warns on present trends, “VET will be left as a provider of lower level training to meet short term industry needs” while “university education, with its emphasis on research and theory, will be the only game in town in the delivery of training for professional occupations.”

However the former MD of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research and present director of the Mackenzie Research Institute suggests a new type of tertiary education can “address the decline … in practice based education.”

In a submission to the Productivity Commission he proposes teaching and practice institutions, delivering certificates, diplomas and bachelor degrees to cross the different VET and HE regulation, qualification, funding and fee systems.

“We need to rejuvenate vocational education so that there is a direct pathway into higher education. We need applied universities that offer qualifications from lower level VET qualifications to bachelors and applied masters degrees,” he writes.

Specific reforms required would include;

* changing the Australian Qualifications Framework so it is “agnostic” on whether a bachelor degree comes from VET or HE

* amalgamating regulators ASQA and TEQSA

* rebalancing funding so the states support certificates one to four and the Commonwealth diplomas and up

* a VET emphasis on general education “so that a student had multiple options to both acquire technical skills and leave open the possibility of higher level study.”

“There are very good reasons for VET to embrace bachelor degrees as a key element of vocational education, so that we can create a genuine competitor for universities,” he writes.