11 December 2013
The Australian Senate today passed a Greens motion moved by higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon to establish an inquiry into TAFE operations, accessibility and public funding. The inquiry will pick up where the former House of Representatives inquiry, dissolved as a result of the calling of the election, left off.
Senator Rhiannon said: "Successive state and federal governments have undermined TAFE as a national vocational educator by opening this sector to low-cost, low-quality private providers. "This inquiry will look into different funding models for TAFE, their impact on accessibility and affordability. "I think this inquiry will reveal how TAFE has been undermined as a centre for technical education excellence."
This work will also look at the impacts of a competitive training market on TAFE - a policy supported by both the Labor Party and Coalition and opposed by The Greens "The educational links with secondary and higher education, the development of skills in the Australian economy and the delivery of services and programs to support regions, communities and disadvantaged individuals to access education will also be covered. "The Greens motion to set up this inquiry ensures that hearings will be held in all capital cities as well as regional centres," Senator Rhiannon said.
The motion states:
(1) That the following matter be referred to the Education and Employment References Committee for inquiry and report by 13 May 2014: Technical and further education (TAFE) in Australia, including:
(a) the role played by TAFEs in:
(i) educational linkages with secondary and higher education,
(ii) the development of skills in the Australian economy,
(iii) the development of opportunities for Australians to improve themselves and increase their life, education and employment prospects, and
(iv) the delivery of services and programs to support regions, communities and disadvantaged individuals to access education, training and skills and, through them, a pathway to further education and employment;
(b) the effects of a competitive training market on TAFE;
(c) what public funding is adequate to ensure TAFEs remain in a strong and sustainable position to carry out their aims;
(d) what factors affect the affordability and accessibility of TAFE to students and business;
(e) different mechanisms used by state governments to allocate funding; and
(f) the application and effect of additional charges to TAFE students.
(2) That, in conducting its inquiry, the committee must:
(a) consider any public information provided to the 2013 House of Representatives inquiry by the Standing Committee on Education and Employment on the role of the technical and further education system and its operation; and
(b) hold public hearings in all capital cities, with a minimum of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, as well as a major regional centre in either New South Wales or Victoria.