The massive impact of measures to contain the Covid -19 virus outbreak on the independent tertiary education
system has been assessed – and it’s devastating. A survey of independent providers in the higher education.
vocational education, training and skills sectors shows that 7 5% of them expect enrolments to fall. The survey
was undertaken by the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the sector’s peak body.
“While s ocial distancing is obviously a necessary measure to contain the Covid -19 outbreak, it presents
genuine challeng es in delivering students the qualit y outcomes they have come to expect from ITECA
members. The consequence is a predicted drop in enrolments,” said Mr Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
The ITECA survey asked independent tertiary education providers to assess the impact of measures to control
the Covid -19 virus outbreak on enrolments and commencements. The results showed that.
▪ 57% of providers had seen domestic students cancel their enrolment;
▪ 64 % of providers had seen domestic students postpone their scheduled commencement; and
▪ 75% of providers expect to see a reduction in domestic students.
The impact of social distancing measures was highlighted by the fact that 3 2% of independent tertiary
education providers reported students being quarantined (within Australia) as they had potentially contracted
the Covid -19 virus.
“These data highlight the need for government to step -up and back Australia’s independent tertiary education
sector. ITECA members are doing it tough as students cancel their enrolment and defer their study, and
although many have transitioned to online learning, this isn’t always a practical option for many courses,” Mr
ITECA has provided government with the Covid -19 Response – Backing Independent Tertiary Education
Providers action plan. It sets out twenty -two recommendations to support independent providers in the
higher education, vocational education, training and skills sector s.
“From removing red -tape and providing financial assistance, to better support for students as they transition to
online learning, the ITECA action plan gives government a roadmap to support the sector,” Mr Williams said.
According to ITECA, government will rely upon the indep endent tertiary education sector as economic recovery
efforts get underway.
“As government turns its mind to getting Australians back to work, the independent tertiary education sector will
play a major role. ITECA members have the geographic spread, indu stry links and experience to provide the
education and training to support jobseekers and those seeking career transition. To do this, we need to ensure
that government backs the independent tertiary education sector today, so it can deliver support across the
economy in the months ahead,” Mr Williams concluded.
Independent providers support around 10% of the 1.5 million students in higher education and around 80% of
the 4.1 million students in vocational education and training.