To ensure that the independent tertiary education sector has the capacity to support the economic
recovery and salvage lost export opportunities, the Australian Government should commit to a limited
extension of the JobKeeper scheme. That’s the call from the Independent Tertiary Education Council
Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the higher education, vocational
education, training and skills sectors.
The extension of the JobKeeper scheme is particularly relevant to the English Language Intensive Courses
for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector. In any given year there are ≈180,000 students that undertake an
English language program which may last from a few weeks to a year.
“As students with ELICOS providers complete the courses, few replace them. Without a reopening of
transnational borders by end -2020, the sustainability of the ELICOS sector is problematic and it’s in that
context that the extension of JobKeeper to these pr oviders has merit,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
Independent international education providers that include higher education providers and Registered
Train ing Organisations (RTOs) are currently doing it tough as few new students are able to travel to
Australia to replace those completing their courses.
“Independent providers with a focus on supporting international students are busy resizing their operations
and preparing to take -on new students when borders reopen. A small number are reliant upon JobKeeper
to help them through this transition phase, so its extension would be welcomed,” Mr Williams said.
Advice from ITECA’s members in the higher education sector is that although enrolments have been
relativel y robust for most providers, the delivery has been hampered by social distancing measures to
contain the Covid -19 virus. Here again, an extension of JobKeeper will support a vital contributor to
“With the reopening of college campus es, the challenge is that delivery to previous student volumes is no
longer possible, which presents some commercial challenges through to end -2020,” Mr Williams said.
With the Prime Minister signa lling an expectation that the vocational education and trai ning sector will
play a lead role in the economic recovery, it’s important that the capacity of the sector be retained – after
all, independent RTOs support around 8 0% of the 1.5 million students in the sector.
“The JobKeeper initiative has played a crit ical role in ensuring the viability of independent RTOs, and also
the 200,539 people who work with them. A sector -wide survey sho ws that around 60% of the nation’s
≈3,600 active independent RTOs have accessed the JobKeeper scheme. It is clearly critical to preserving
the capacity of the independent vocational education and training sector,” Mr Williams said.
ITECA’s advocacy on this matter with parliamentary and departmental stakeholders is ongoing.