19/11/2008 - 22:00

VET funding model flawed – Murphy

19/11/2008 - 22:00

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There has been a significant decline in student enrolment and completion of institutional-based training courses, with only 16 per cent of IBT students completing their courses in 2007, according to an auditor general report.

There has been a significant decline in student enrolment and completion of institutional-based training courses, with only 16 per cent of IBT students completing their courses in 2007, according to an auditor general report.

The report, released last week, also showed the number of enrolments in IBT courses has dropped 10 per cent in the past five years.

IBT includes courses such as IT, business and childcare.

Auditor General Colin Murphy said the current focus on enrolments produces more apprentices and trainees, without addressing a decline in the other 75 per cent of Vocational Education and Training institutions, which include Department of Education and Training and Tafe colleges.

He said that with more than $500 million of public funds spent on VET in 2007, if colleges had to pay a refund for module withdrawals in 2007 it would have cost them nearly $22 million, with almost $20 million of that amount for IBT.

He noted there was significant scope to get more students to stay and complete courses, but DET's funding of colleges provided no direct incentive for student retention and achievement.

"Colleges retain their funding whether or not students stay the course. This clearly demonstrates the VET funding model is flawed", Mr Murphy said.

Deputy director general training for DET Robert Player said the department accepts the findings of the auditor general's report that there is a need for better understanding of student retention and achievement in Tafe colleges.

Mr Player said Tafe colleges were not funded on the basis of a student enrolling in whole course, with funding provided only for those modules which students commenced.

"In most instances, if a student withdraws from a module this does not materially affect the total costs of the training program as the rest of the students still require a lecturer, a classroom and resources," he said.

But, Mr Player said there was a valid point to be made that reducing student withdrawal would enhance the productivity of the training system.

Mr Murphy found that while DET and training providers had responded to increased demand for apprentices and trainees by increasing enrolments 72 per cent and 27 per cent respectively, the number of enrolments in publicly-funded IBT courses had dropped by more than 10 per cent since 2003.

Swan Tafe managing director Wayne Collyer said there had been a focus on employment-based training, with the environment of high employment leading to a downward shift in demand for institutional programs.

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