Urgent Steps Needed To Protect Our Independent Tertiary Education Sector

As the response to the Covid -19 virus outbreak causes students to stay at home, classes to be suspended and
the total evaporation o f forward international student enrolments, the independent tertiary education system is
facing a challenge to its sustainability. To support independent providers in the higher education, vocational
educ ation, training and skills sectors, a series of measures have been put to government by the sector’s peak
body, the I ndependent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA ).

“Independent providers enrol around 80% of the 4.1 million students in vocational education and training.

The se providers do the heavy lifting in delivering the quality education and training that make s people job ready.

This is the time for government to step -up and support th e sector that will play a lead role in the economic
recove ry effort,” said Mr Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

Independent higher education providers support around 10% of the 1.5 million students in higher education and
ITECA’s recommendations are also directed at ensuring the sustainability of the independ ent higher education sector.

“Removing the fees and charges that government places on independent higher education providers, plus
suspending routine reporting and audit activity and removing taxes on student loans would allow the sector to
get on with the job of supporting students,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA has given government a series of reforms that will support the independent tertiary education sector. The
measures seek to cut unnecessary red -tape and delay the introduction of proposed new fees and charges. Put
togeth er following extensive consultation with ITECA’s members, the measures include.

▪ Delaying by twelve months, the move towards full cost recovery by the two regulators, the Australian
Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and the Tertiary Education Quality and Stan dards Agency (TEQSA);
▪ ASQA and TEQSA suspending routine reporting and audit activity by three months;
▪ Suspending by twelve months the tax on student loans ;
▪ New funding to allow independent providers ramp -up delivery of online courses; and
▪ Allowing independ ent providers to access underutilised TAFE facilities.

“In total there are twenty -two different measures that will ensure that the independent tertiary education system
operates sustainably in the short term, positioning it to strengthen the coming economic recovery,” Mr Williams said.

According to ITECA, although the public TAFE sector plays an important secondary role in skilling Au stralia, the
public sector lacks the capacity, expertise or capability to play the same lead role that independent providers play.

“Independent providers support more apprentices and trainees than public TAFE colleges, indeed independent
providers support around four times more students in voca tional training. It’s the independent tertiary education
system that will play the lead role in delivering the skills that people need to get back to work, ” Mr Williams said.

ITECA’s immediate focus is on advocac y that will cut the red -tap e that independent tertiary education providers
face, freeing -up time to transition to online training and other ways to keep students in their courses.

“ITECA is asking for a moratorium on all routine reporting and auditing activity, plus suspension of ch arges levied
on the independent tertiary education system, so that our members can focus on supporting their students and
employees in these challenging times,” Mr Williams concluded.

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