How much online is OK for international students? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

How much online is OK for international students? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

During the last few weeks TDA has been drafting a response to the ESOS (Education Services for Overseas Students) Review 2022. One of the questions the Department is asking in its Review paper is ‘what percentage of the course should the ESOS framework allow to be studied online?’

As we know, the COVID years have impacted the learning environment. Without online learning many of our international students, indeed many of all our students, would have been lost to learning altogether.

Removing restrictions has also increased innovation and flexibility. It is this innovation and flexibility that we don’t want to lose.

However, as the applied learning sector, vocational education and training needs some form of practical experience. For international students that is, of course, onshore in Australia.

We also know that all students gain from having international students in learning cohorts. That benefit also should not be lost now that we can return to face-to-face learning.

In our vocational education and training system, no two courses are identical. That might mean the amount of online can vary depending on course type.

Therefore, TDA will be responding to this question of how much online with the answer: don’t put back strict limits. Allow the provider to have a degree of flexibility as to how much, while ensuring there is always a practical component within the overall qualification. That is, foster blended learning. Getting the balance right requires the input of quality providers.

If we are to lighten the strict controls, then ASQA and TEQSA as the regulators must focus on high risk providers. It is incumbent on them to ensure that those providers with large cohorts of international students are putting students first and acting with integrity. A focus on student academic progression can provide insight into whether the balance of delivery mode is appropriate. The regulators have the power to ask the questions and to monitor the student outcomes.

In summary, a more flexible approach to how much online delivery international students can undertake is needed. There is no case for fully online. However, strict restrictions in percentages of course or hour limits do not allow for differences in course types, nor do they foster innovation in delivery.

TDA thanks the Department for the chance to provide input into this and other important questions as part of the ESOS Review 2022.

TDA Convention 2022: Courage, Change and Challenge – The Future of TAFE

We are pleased to announce that the venue for the TDA Convention 2022 will be the Hilton Adelaide from Tuesday 15 to Thursday 17 November.

For all sponsorship enquiries, please contact

New SA government reinstates axed TAFE courses

The newly elected Labor government in South Australia has reinstated subsidised training courses in aged care, disability care and childhood education and care at metropolitan TAFE campuses.

The courses were removed in 2020 by the previous government from metropolitan TAFEs.

“These courses will re-open to students for the second semester this year,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

“The return of these care sector courses to metropolitan TAFE SA delivery will give greater access to training and build on the existing range of training market opportunities.”

The government also said that the previous government had advised TAFE SA in February of a further 14 courses to be removed, on top of 20 courses cut from TAFE SA in 2021.

Courses to be cut included dental assisting, health administration, food processing, building & construction and education support. Premier Malinauskas said these further cuts would not proceed.

Election highlights contrasting policies on skills and training: The Australian

The Australian’s Higher Education section has taken a detailed look at some of the “stark differences” in policies for skills and training that the Coalition and Labor are taking to the federal election on May 21.

Journalist Tim Dodd notes that the Coalition is promising to spend $3.7bn, over three times more than Labor, on building skills in the economy, with plans that are far more ambitious in their scope.

“By contrast Labor is offering $1.2bn over four years for its skills plan, which will make 465,000 TAFE student places free of fees, including 45,000 new places. But Labor’s commitment to vocational education is less than this because $482m of its $1.2bn promise will not go to TAFE, instead funding 20,000 new university student places,” the article said.

Tim Dodd says, “There is also a clear difference in philosophy between the two sides of politics. Labor is emphasising TAFE education, and qualifications such as certificates and diplomas, in areas where it sees skills gaps. Labor also promises to underpin the TAFE system by putting a ceiling on the amount of funding that will be “contestable” – that is, available on a competitive basis to all vocational education providers, both TAFE and private.”

Labor will ensure that at least 70 per cent of commonwealth vocational education funding is for public TAFE.

VET consultant Claire Field says Labor is understandably pursuing a policy which will prioritise additional funding for the TAFE sector, while the Coalition is trying, through negotiations with the state and territories to put more scrutiny on where funding goes and to have contestability central to its policy platform.

“If Labor wins, the focus for the TAFE sector will be the more traditional learner, looking for the full post-school qualification,” Field says.

“If the Coalition wins, the focus for TAFE will be different, with more micro-credentials and short courses and potentially a need to find new sources of revenue if there’s a move to efficient pricing.”

TDA chief executive Jenny Dodd says the group welcomes the fact that both parties are putting increased focus on the investment in skills – the first time in many years that VET has been the main focus of the education debate.

See ‘The Coalition and Labor have very different policies on skills and training’

ASQA appoints advisory council members

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has appointed the members of a new National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Advisory Council.

The members are:

  • Mr Peter Costantini OAM (Chair)
  • Professor Valerie Braithwaite
  • Ms Renee Hindmarsh
  • Dr Grant Klinkum
  • Ms Adrienne Nieuwenhuis
  • Mr Neil Quarmby
  • Dr Don Zoellner.

ASQA CEO Saxon Rice said the members have been appointed for their expertise in governance, regulation, industry engagement, and education and training.

“The appointment of the Advisory Council will facilitate continuous improvement of ASQA’s governance practices and improve ASQA’s access to high-level ongoing expert advice, including in relation to ASQA’s strategic objectives and approach to regulation,” Ms Rice said.

The establishment of the advisory council was a key recommendation of the 2020 Rapid Review of ASQA’s governance, culture and regulatory practice.

No need for further expansion of tuition protection to VET students, review finds

The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) should not be expanded further to cover domestic students in the VET sector, a review of the scheme by Nous Group has found.

The review says that the TPS is operating well for international students, but it identifies some anomalies in its coverage of domestic students in both higher education and VET.

Currently the TPS applies to domestic students receiving a Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loan and up-front fee-paying higher education students at private providers, as well as VET Student Loans (VSL) students.

The TPS does not currently apply to full fee paying students at private providers, who, the review says, are “arguably more exposed financially than those who have taken out a Commonwealth loan.”

However, the review recommends against an immediate expansion of the TPS, saying the government should explore “appropriate alternative tuition protection or support arrangements” at lower cost than the TPS.

The review also identified a discrepancy whereby VSL students are only eligible for a loan recredit if the TPS is unable to find a suitable placement for them, unlike other students who can choose between a placement and receiving a refund or loan recredit.

Also, VSL providers are not required to attempt to place students or recredit loans before the TPS is activated, unlike other providers.

The review recommends that VSL students be offered a choice of accepting a placement or recredit, and that VSL providers be required to take these actions in the event of default.

See the Tuition Protection Review Final Report

Invitations open for WFCP world congress youth camp

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) has opened invitations for students to attend WFCP’s 2022 Youth Camp, taking place alongside the WFCP World Congress in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain in June.

The youth camp is a residential retreat for students where they engage in social activities, discussions on issues facing the world, leading to the development of a statement, “The Voice of the Youth” that is presented to the World Congress.

The camp runs from Sunday June 12 to Friday June 17 and is limited to 50 participants.

See details

$15k available for NSW apprentices facing hardship

First year apprentices in NSW facing financial or personal hardship will be supported with $15,000 to undertake their trade and study under the latest round of the Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarships.

The NSW Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the state government will invest $1.8 million in the scholarships to support 120 people to either start, change or further their career.

“This year we have increased the number of scholarships on offer in recognition of the demand for training,” Mr Henskens said.

“Whether you need to purchase new tools, cover fuel or car maintenance costs, or pay for additional training courses, these scholarships have helped people overcome personal barriers to finish their apprenticeships and go onto rewarding careers.”

The program will provide $5,000 each year for three years to support apprentices who demonstrate a high aptitude for vocational education and training and are committed to their on the job and formal training.

Applications close Friday, 27 May.

See details

ASQA joins best practice cost recovery group

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has joined a group of nine regulators as part of a program by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to achieve “best practice” in cost recovery.

PM&C’s Best Practice Cost Recovery Project aims to improve regulator performance and accountability. It brings together nine national regulators operating cost recovery models to review best practice regulation.

The review, led by the Department of Finance, is part of the federal government’s deregulation agenda which provides a whole-of-government approach to regulatory policy focused on reducing barriers to productivity, growth and competitiveness.

Diary Dates

AVETRA 2022 Conference
Are we there yet? Building a research community to share VET’s future
28-29 April 2022
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VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
16-20 May 2022
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TAFETalks: Cyber security; Building capability to respond to risk
18 May 2022
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Disability Employment Australia Conference
31 May – 2 June 2022
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World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics
2022 World Congress 

15-17 June 2022
Donostia-San Sebastian (Spain)
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Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2022 Skills Conference
15 June 2022
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
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31st National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
6-8 July 2022, Online
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ACER Research Conference 2022
Reimagining assessment
22-25 August 2022
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National Skills Week 2022
22-28 August 2022
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WorldSkills Shanghai 2022
12-17 October 2022
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Australian International Education Conference 2022
18-21 October 2022
Gold Coast & Online
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2022 National VET Conference
Velg Training
3-4 November 2022
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
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TDA Convention 2022
Courage, Change and Challenge – the Future of TAFE
15-17 November 2022
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VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
VET Development Centre
17 & 18 November 2022 (Online)
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