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Education Training, Government Federal

Parliamentary Committee’s Death Knell For The International Skills Training Sector

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) 2 mins read

The interim report from an Australian Parliamentary inquiry into tourism and international education sectors contains recommendations that may spell the death knell for the international skills training sector if implemented.  This is the initial response from the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.

“ITECA shares the commitment of the committee to improve the reputation for quality that Australia’s international education sector has.  That said, some aspects of the report and its recommendations lack intellectual merit,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

ITECA’s initial response to the interim report indicates that the committee has failed to understand the commercial environment in which high quality skills training providers work.  This is based on recommendations that include a pause for at least twelve months by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) in processing new provider applications for Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registered skills training providers.

“We are just starting to see the international skills training sector get back on its feet after the Covid-19 pandemic, with several high-quality providers wanting to support international students for the first time.  The committee’s recommendation will set this recovery back,” Mr Williams said.

Another highly problematic recommendation is that there be a suspension of recruitment of international students to CRICOS skills training courses identified with persistent quality and integrity issues and/or of limited value to Australia’s critical skills needs, such as management and leadership courses.

“What the committee is saying in this context is that if an international student wants to pay their own way to study courses in, for example, project management, Australia doesn’t want them.  It’s a unfortunate recommendation that will send all the wrong signals to international students wanting to come to Australia to further their own life and career goals through a quality education,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA draws attention to one recommendation that shows how deeply flawed the committee’s report is.  This being a recommendation to establish a mechanism to separate the training function from the assessment function in limited circumstances for high-risk providers and / or courses, requiring students to be externally assessed by an independent body, an approved provider such as TAFEs, or perhaps a proven high-quality private provider permitted to undertake external assessments.

“The idea put forward in the report that there be independent of validation of student assessment and progress at private RTOs to be carried out by TAFE is based on no more than the ideology that says the public provider is best, something that the government’s own data says is a flawed basis for policy making.  According to the government’s own data, on most metrics of student satisfaction, student course completion, and employer satisfaction private RTOs outperform TAFE colleges,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA’s position is that if the recommendations are taken-up by government, it may possibly be the death knell for the international skills training sector that in 2022 supported 35.4% of all onshore international students enrolments – more than 264,500 – with the remainder being in higher education, English language, and schools sectors.

“From time to time, governments consign to the wastebin of history some of the more unsound recommendations that parliamentary committees make.  There are several in this report that should meet this fate,” Mr Williams concluded.

Ends.


About us:

ITECA Introduction:  Formed in 1992, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.


Contact details:

Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive
e: troy.williams@iteca.edu.au
m: 0400 599 934

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