The announcement by the ALP that it intends to "rebalance" the VET market by allocating guaranteed funding to TAFE is a small but significant step back from the brink for Australian TAFE colleges. When combined with the proposal that an ALP government would develop a national statement collaboratively with the states and territories to define and support TAFE, it is clear that we are witnessing a turn in the tide of TAFEs fortunes. But the battle is not over, and TAFE has not yet been saved.
As we gear up to celebrate National TAFE Day for 2015, it is important to remind ourselves of the year that has passed – and the importance of TAFE to the Australian community.
Mix one part deregulation with one part government funding then sprinkle with a few thousand dollars of student loans and what is the result? A consumer protection disaster.
VET FEE-HELP is an income contingent loan scheme, introduced into the VET sector in 2008 as part of the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). An income contingent loan scheme – the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) - was first introduced into Australia’s Higher Education sector under Education Minister John Dawkins in 1989. HECS has become HECS HELP in the Higher Education sector, and HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP are all administered under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).
The Abbott Government has been erratic in vocational education, as in many other areas, in its first 18 months of office. It started badly with early decisions to reduce quality controls, appoint supporters to key government advisory posts and further cut unions from contributing to policy on vocational education.