Reluctance to tighten international education loopholes – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Reluctance to tighten international education loopholes – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

There has been a bit of chatter over the last week or so around international students. This chatter started in the media on Friday 14 April.

Julie Hare from the Australian Financial Review commented about some international students either not starting at the university with which they had a confirmation of enrolment for their primary course, or exiting soon after arrival to go to a different provider. This situation, where some international students are induced to leave their primary provider, is not new.

TDA and ITECA jointly released a statement in September 2021 requesting various government departments take seriously the problem of onshore international student transfers. We identified the risks onshore transfers created for the primary registered training organisation. While a working group was formed there were no changes that resulted to stop this loophole.

In April 2022, as part of TDA’s response to the review of the ESOS Act, TDA wrote: ‘Our recommendation is that the concurrent Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) functionality on PRISMS (the system for international students), which has been widely used to circumvent the transfer restrictions between providers, should be tightened. One way to limit the unintended use of this functionality would be for the principal course provider to be requested to approve any concurrent COEs within the restricted period on PRISMS. It is also recommended to go back to the minimum transfer time without a letter of release of 12 months, as many of the transfer issues emerged when the 12-month threshold was decreased to the current 6 months.”

Last year TDA wrote to the Department giving examples of specific behaviour that contravened Standard 7. Standard 7 restricts providers from enrolling transferring students prior to the student completing six months of their principal course of study. While officials looked at individual cases there have been no systemic changes to stop this practice.

Why is there reluctance to tackle this problem? It seems such an important matter that can impact “the integrity, reputation and quality of the Australian international education sector” (TDA and ITECA Joint Statement on Onshore International Student Transfers Sept 2021). Now that this matter has reached the university sector, perhaps we will see action.

Solutions for improving VET completion rates to be part of national skills agreement

Ways of boosting VET completion rates will be one of the key elements in a new National Skills Agreement, the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Conner said last week.

Speaking in South Australia, Mr O’Connor said, together with state and territory ministers, he was looking at “a myriad of ways we can improve the completion rates.”

“It’s going to be subject to discussions with all state and territory governments and industry when we are negotiating the National Skills Agreement.

“I’m inviting people to put forward their views as to how do we improve the approach because to date the just over 50 per cent completion rate, which has been around now for close to a decade, is not acceptable,” he said.

“One thing we do know is that if you invest in areas of emerging and existing demand, there is a greater likelihood of completion because people can see a line-of-sight between their training or education and that job.

“We also know that if we engage more with industry and industry engages more with training providers, like TAFEs, then there is, again, more chance of finishing that apprenticeship because they feel a greater confidence about using those skills in the labour market,” he said.

Can machine learning better predict VET completion rates?

The NCVER may have  uncovered a new, more accurate way of predicting completion rates for VET qualifications.

NCVER research released last week looks at the effectiveness of using machine learning to calculate projected completion rates for VET programs, and compares this with the current approach, known as Markov chains methodology.

It found that for the 2016 commencing cohort, the completion rate predictions using machine learning algorithms were generally more accurate than those using Markov chains methodology.

One of the advantages from the adoption of a machine learning model is the timeliness of the predictions.

The machine learning model is anticipated to allow projections to be calculated for a new cohort as soon as the enrolment data are received from the various training providers. However, this method relies on a four-year window of historical training activity data to “train” the model.

Interestingly, while the machine learning models were more accurate across the board, the current approach produced more accurate completion rates for TAFE enrolments.

See Evaluating machine learning for projecting completion rates for VET programs

TAFETalks: A Global Perspective: Understanding the European skills ecosystem and its implications for Australia

Join the next TAFETalks on Wednesday 3 May at 4pm AEST where TDA and guest speakers from the European Commission will discuss the use of skills ecosystems in the European Union (EU). Following the successful international panel at last November’s TDA Convention 2022, TAFETalks will explore the intricacies of the European skills ecosystem at a local level.

You will hear from European experts about their innovative approaches to EU VET policy objectives, specifically how they involve both employers and students.

To register, please click here

Early childhood enrolments double after TAFE SA courses reinstated

The South Australian government has reported a near doubling of enrolments in early childhood courses since the qualifications were reinstated at TAFE last year.

The Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care were removed by the former government from TAFE SA in metropolitan areas.

The Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer said enrolments in Semester 1 for 2023 for both courses are currently at 456 – almost double the same time last year with 276 enrolments.

The courses were also added to the Fee-Free TAFE list.

“The increase in students studying early childhood education and care courses at TAFE SA shows exactly why we made the right decision to bring these courses back,” Mr Boyer said.

TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity

This virtual event will focus on the important themes of access, inclusion and equity in TAFE. It is aimed at educators, policy makers, and other stakeholders interested in improving TAFE education and creating opportunities.

The event will be hosted on Zoom and will take place on 31 May 2023 from 12pm to 5pm AEST. It is free for all participants. Sessions have been designed for both educators and staff.

TAFE Opens Doors will feature a rich program with a variety of speakers and presentation types, including the opening keynote panel on TAFEs and First Nations Peoples. This panel will be delivered by Professor Peter Radoll, DVC of Victoria University, and Leanne Bell, Faculty Manager of TAFE Queensland and Reconciliation Action Plan Chair.

Click here for more information or register now to be a part of the discussion

Empowering culturally diverse leaders: TasTAFE’s innovative program with MCOT

Tasmania’s Diverse Leadership Program, developed in collaboration with the Multicultural Council of Tasmania (MCOT) and TasTAFE, aims to provide leadership skills to culturally diverse workers in the state.

The program selects 25 learners from a rigorous expression of interest process and covers seven units of competency drawn from Certificate IV and Diploma level business qualifications, with a focus on emotional intelligence, project management, leading difficult conversations, and developing teams and individuals.

MCOT chose TasTAFE as its education partner for the program’s quality reputation. The co-ownership model ensures the program is tailored to meet the needs of the diverse participants.

The program is an annual initiative that aims to break down barriers for migrant and culturally diverse workers and help them improve their skills at higher levels in business.

See more

CIT floristry students blossom at Melbourne show

Canberra Institute of Technology has seen its floristry students ranked among some of the best at the recent Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

CIT floristry student volunteers and the Canberra Sustainable Floristry Group scored the ‘Silver Gilt Award for Floral Display’ for their work.

It is an incredible effort and a sign of the creative talent that is flourishing at CIT.

Cloud skills for TAFE by Amazon Web Services

Don’t miss the three-part series by AWS Australia to learn more about cloud technology upskilling and careers in Australia, building upon TDA’s TAFETalks on “Closing the Digital Skills Gap”

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Australia is hosting a three-part webinar series, Cloud Skills for TAFE, to help TAFE educators, tech leaders, and students upskill and explore cloud technology careers in Australia. Part 1 covers how to incorporate AWS Academy in your curriculum with examples from across Australia. Part 2 provides free on-demand resources for continued cloud learning. Part 3 offers practical advice and success stories from former TAFE students who now work at AWS.  For more information, please click the link and view webinar details at the bottom of the page.  To register for any of the webinars, please complete this form.

Please be sure to read the form directions before submission.  Note that on the first page of the form you will need to click “yes” and include your name and email in order for the AWS to be able to invite you to your preferred events.

The first workshop in this series will be held on Tuesday, May 2nd at 3PM AEST.  If you have questions, you can reach the AWS Skills to Jobs team at

Industry Boost – TAFE early childhood forum

Registrations are now open for the upcoming TAFE Early Childhood industry currency Forum in May. Don’t let your educators miss out on this unique opportunity to boost their industry currency!

Industry Expert Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia advocates for quality care, social justice and equity in all issues relating to the education and care of children from birth to eight years and publishes the Australian Journal of Early Childhood.

By attending this industry forum, early childhood educators can discuss upcoming changes in early childcare with Sam and boost their industry currency to improve student outcomes in an area with skills shortages.

The online forum will be on Friday 5 May from 2pm to 4.30pm AEST. Registration is $150 inc GST. Further details can be found at TAFE Industry Boost – VDC

All attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.

See the flyer.

Diary Dates

VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
May to June 2023
More information: Child CareElectricalDental Assistant

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2023 World Congress
23-25 April 2023
Montréal, Canada
More information

TAFETalks: A Global Perspective: Understanding the European skills ecosystem and its implications for Australia
3 May 2023, 4 pm AEST
Register here

TAFE Opens Doors: a focused discussion on access and equity
VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
31 May 2023 Online 12 – 5pm AEST
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2023 Skills Conference
14 June 2023
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

TAFETalks: Innovations in Clean Energy
21 June, 2 pm AEST
Register here

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information

32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
26 – 28 July 2023 – save the date
Mildura, Victoria

National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
More information

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023 – save the date
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information