Victorian VET funding Review – The things I didn’t know about VET funding in Victoria
July 18, 2015 2 Comments
So as some of you may notice it is a Saturday and I am posting which is unusual I know, but a connection of mine on linkedin posted on Friday the issues paper from the Review of VET funding in Victoria and as I said in a response to her post I was gobsmacked when I read it because, while I freely admit that I don’t have intimate knowledge of how things work in VET in Victoria, I found a range of things that I simply couldn’t believe were and had been happening, and it seems allowed to continue to happen by the Victoria government and its departments and which were a universe away from what I has been the case in QLD for years.
Victoria funds every course accredited under the Australian Qualifications Framework. Why? As I said in my initial response, who thought that this was a great idea, in my mind it is one of the stupidest ideas around. Yes I get that different courses are funding at different levels, but surely (as it says in a number of places in the review there needs to be industry outcomes from funded training) how are you ever going to target industry outcomes well when you fund everything. This idea of not (like QLD and other states) having a list of those qualification which are funded and which contracted providers can deliver. A list which has been developed considering the needs of the State and industries within it, is for me so far removed from common sense I find it unfathomable. The other issue with this it that when everything is funded it leads to a range of other issues which seem to occur in Victoria which we in QLD in particular don’t seem to see.
The issue of substitution. First off, if it is an issue and you have name for and people know it has been happening why didn’t the Victorian government do something about, surely they had to know that this was occurring and who was doing it. All you have to do is look at the data people it will all be there in black and white. So for those of you who don’t know what substitution actually is (I certainly didn’t because as I will explain later QLD has very simple safeguards against that sort of thing). “Substitution utilises the broad training packages and flexibility built into the funding system to select units from alternative training packages to receive higher funding rates. In one example mentioned, providers switched units relating to the responsible service of alcohol, commonly delivered under a hospitality qualification (which attracts a low funding rate) to higher-funded units delivered under health support services”.
Now here is a couple of really quick things about this practice. It is way less likely to happen if not everything is funded. Also and please someone correct me if I am wrong, it appears that you can, in Victoria simply replace one unit with another as long as it meets the packaging rules, so for example import a unit for a different qualification or training package into another qualification in which it does not naturally reside, without any kind of check or balance by the people handing out the money, they pay you. Wow, no wonder there has been so many problems.
In QLD when you apply for pre-qualified supplier status (with additional approval criteria over and above just being and RTO, including industry support to deliver the qualifications, from the approved list, that you have on your scope and want to deliver) the scope of units that are funded are the units explicitly stated in the qualification documentation. If you import a unit which is not explicitly stated in the qualification, then it creates an error and you don’t get paid. This doesn’t mean you can’t import units and be paid for them, what it means is that you have to tell the department what you are doing and they make a decision about whether or not that substitution is appropriate, meets packaging rules etc. No approval from the Department no payment for the unit, it is as simple as that.
Zero or low fees. Again, of course, when everything is funded and everyone is trying to scramble to deliver there is going to be a race to the bottom in terms of student contribution fees. However it also needs to be remembered that probably about 25% of our funded students are there because they can afford our fees, which quite low simply for that reason and a lot of non-profit and community sector providers try to keep their fees as low as possible for just that reason.
Contracted providers. Now again I don’t know what percentage of providers in Victoria are contracted to deliver training, but I do know again in QLD that the number of PQS RTOs is far lower that the number of actual providers. Why, well firstly there are additional compliance burdens but secondly, and let me say this again
NOT EVERY QUALIFICATION IS FUNDED
So that is my little weekend rant. There is a range of other things in the issues paper which worried me as well, but I am going to save that for a more lengthy review of the document which I will post next week.
Anyway that is just my opinion.