The Minister for Tertiary Education admitted yesterday in parliament, under questioning by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, that there is a legitimate basis for concern about the quality of private VET providers, in particular some of the companies involved, following government reforms to the vocational education and training (VET) system.
Read Hansard of Senator Evans' response to Ms Rhiannon's question and her speech in reply.
"Minister Evans confessed he lacks full confidence in some of the private providers which have entered the VET sector since the introductions of reforms that are so damaging the TAFE sector," Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
"I will be asking the Minister to expand on his concerns in Senate Estimates next week.
"The new VET world order has delivered big profits to private providers by shifting costs to the public purse and harmed TAFE.
"In the name of competition, the Labor government has reduced government investment in an already struggling TAFE system, reduced the quality and availability of courses and driven up student fees.
"There are troubling reports that some private providers lack the skills and facilities to run courses they won tenders for and are now sub-contracting work back to TAFE.
"The so called competitive tender process is also broken.
"TAFE is unfairly penalised when contracts are awarded for having access to state owned infrastructure and assets. On the other hand private providers are exempted from procurement guidelines which require them to give details of their teachers and facilities.
"Australia faces a critical skills shortage at a time when we should be investing in TAFE to build our workforce and make the transition to a low carbon economy.
"The restructuring of the VET sector was a bankrupt move by the government which is lining the pockets of the private sector while endangering our precious TAFE system," Senator Rhiannon said.
Contact: Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880
The questioning was based on a letter from Senator Evans to former NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt in response to her expressed concerns about the VET reforms (letter available on request).