Media Release: Commonwealth support for sub-degree is bad for business
Celebrated by the Commonwealth Government as an opportunity for “more students to have more pathways to higher education”, the extending of Commonwealth funding to so-called ‘sub-bachelor’ courses will have an adverse impact on the industries that depend on Diploma qualified staff in their workforces.
The move – clearly a sop for universities whose incomes will be adversely impacted in other reforms in this budget – fails to appreciate the sensitivity of a market that is shared by both the Vocational Education & Training (VET) and Higher Education sectors.
VET and HE ‘overlap’ at levels 5 (Diploma) and 6 (Advanced Diploma / Associate Degree) of the national Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). While many industries depend on VET graduates at the AQF 5/6 level, for universities this tier of the education system functions only as a pathway to degrees (hence the term, ‘sub-bachelor’).
“Students who exit their university program with a sub-degree qualification will find it has weak application to the world of work: it won’t help them get a job” said Andrew Williamson, Executive Director of the Victorian TAFE Association. “For industries like early childhood education, community services, nursing, veterinary nursing, legal services, cyber security and building design, VET Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas are the qualifications that industry recognise.”
“This is a complex and price-sensitive market: extending Commonwealth support to Higher Education Diplomas and Associate Degrees will skew the market away from the very training programs business want” said Mr Williamson “VET Diplomas are vital qualifications in many industries: they are developed and endorsed by industry and play an important role in Australia’s labour force. University Diplomas hold no value in industry, they are simply another stepping stone to higher education.”
TAFEs – at the heart of the VET system – deliver industry recognised learning programs that have real job outcomes.