One rule of some another for TAFE!

The VET sector in this country is regulated by a set of standards which are supposed to apply to all providers whether they are public, that is a TAFE or a private provider.  However after revelations this week about the Kangan Institute having left sensitive student files in an abandoned campus for

5 Years.

It is abundantly clear that all providers are not equal!

 In fact in this case if it wasn’t for the fact that the local council issued a notice to the Victoria department of education to do something about the state of the campus because local residents were scared to walk past it, the files may well have sat there forever.

This unequal treatment is clearly the case at least in Victoria at the very least, which of course has not yet managed to get its act together and hand over regulation from its state based regulator to ASQA so regulation of its providers is still provided by a body which is funded by the State government which, oh that’s right, also owns the TAFEs.  Can anyone else see problems with this because I certainly can.

For a system which is supposed to regulate all providers in the same way and according to the same standards it seems while private providers certainly are being held to account as can be seen by the list of ASQA audit decisions,  looking at the same table clearly tells us that TAFE is not being held to account in the same way.  There does not appear to be one single reference to any TAFE in Australia ever having been sanctioned by ASQA.  Now to be fair Victoria and WA  are not regulated by ASQA, but I have to say that I seriously doubt if we were to look at the audit decisions of those sate regulators that we would find any adverse decisions against TAFEs under their jurisdiction either.

Now please do not get me wrong here, I am not attempting to bag TAFE  or suggested that most of them do not do a great job, those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that I am a supporter of the public VET system.  However are we actually to believe that of all of the TAFEs, are all so perfect that there has not ever been even conditions applied to their activities by a regulator anywhere, when clearly given the revelations above and a range of other issues that have surfaced over the past few years with other public providers, this is not the case.

Now let us for a moment consider what the ramifications might have been of the Kangan Incident had rather than it being a public provider, it had been a  private provider who had left sensitive student documents strewn around an abandoned office.  I don’t think we need to consider this too deeply to say with a fair amount of certainty that if this had happened at a private provider that they would have been DEREGISTERED. 

So the question which sits in my head now is what will happen to Kangan and the staff and management responsible for this massive, ongoing, systemic failure.  My guess would be nothing.  Kangan won’t be closed, (Can’t close a TAFE that would have devastating effects on the community), the management and staff who are responsible won’t be fired (they might be lightly chastised though), the government, Kangan or anyone else involved won’t take responsibility and probably wont even acknowledge it happen or even apologise to the students whose records and personal details they treat so carelessly.  What will happen then?  There will be a review and some policies and procedures will be updated, TAFE, the Unions and maybe even the Victorian State government will come out and say that has clearly been caused by competitive funding which has stripped TAFE of the resources which it needs to operate properly and that it is all the fault of the private providers in the system.

The situation where TAFE is treated differently from all other providers, even though they are all governed by the same standards, simply because they are a government-owned entity is ridiculous and needs to stop.  If a TAFE does something worthy of deregistration it should be deregistered, or at the very least suspended from delivery of VET qualifications until it gets its act together.  If the problem is in one of its schools or campuses, or courses then stop them delivering.  It is really as simple as that.

We have a single set of regulations it is about time that everyone was actually regulated in the same way.

Anyway that’s just my opinion.

About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

11 Responses to One rule of some another for TAFE!

  1. Stephen Auburn says:

    I think that you find that most if not all Victorian TAFEs are regulated by ASQA as they deliver outside of Victoria and/or to overseas students. TGA indicates that Knagan is regulated by ASQA.

  2. Brad says:

    Hi Paul,
    Business must be slow! What were the files? They weren’t lunch orders were they? Were they locked up in storage that someone broke into? Hope they weren’t laid out on a table for everyone to see like a RTO I was recently at. When you say you’re not bagging TAFE, your headline should say Kangan TAFE as not all TAFEs are ‘related’ just as not all private RTOs are related

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Brad, I certainly agree with you that not all TAFEs are the same. I have a hell of a lot of respect for the work that most TAFEs do in particular those in Queensland and NSW which I know the most about. While what I wrote was prompted by the Kangan incident, it was more of a general comment about the perception, which definitely exists, and whether it is true or not is certainly I think up for debate that public providers may be treated differently to non-public ones even though they are supposed to be regulated the same. The thing that sort of got to me about this is that if this had been a private provider, the media, TDA and unions would have all had stories about this and commentary about how terrible it was, however this story was one that was run in a local not national paper and no one has made any commentary about it what so ever, even commentary to explain what had happen, if it was the case that the documents were not particularly sensitive. There is a perception and a fairly widely held perception if the comments on my piece both here and in other forums are to be taken at face value, that there is a difference in the way in which regulatory issues are handled when it comes to public providers.

  3. They should be subjected to the same rules as RTO’s. I am fed up with TAFE constantly blaming RTOs and calling us cash cows. There are many RTOs that are not cash cows and work hard to ensure they can run the RTO and still pay their staff to provide quality education to their students. In fact, I had a couple of TAFE trainers that wanted to work at my RTO they did not even have a bachelor degree and had been teaching for 8-10 years in a TAFE. Our college policy is that they must have a basic bachelor degree or higher with industry experience. Trainers need to be a few steps ahead of students. They need to have higher knowledge and skills to help my students. If they don’t they do not get hired at my college. I am glad that I set a high standard for trainers in my college as it is the students who benefit most from these well qualified trainers. Cheers Janet

  4. Timithy Rolls says:

    I recently seen an advertisement in my local paper for TAFE Western Sydney.
    There was no mention of their RTO number anywhere
    There is certainly a double standard.

  5. Kalvin b says:

    I’ve worked for tafe in the mid 2000’s. I’ve for private rtos. Had tafe been held to the same account as private they would have been desisted years ago. Completely agree on this one. Saw the bias first hand. Either deal with both sides equally or clean up the rules. I’ve seen good and bad in both. ASQA was the best step they could have possibly taken to equal the rules between public and private. Still a long way to go to see equality as a basis for judgement on regulatory outcomes that promotes a fair operational framework.

  6. Pingback: One rule of some another for TAFE! | TAFE Educa...

  7. Warren James says:

    Let’s get rid of the all RTO’s, this would satisfy all our governments, place training in the hands of Industry, training people as monkey’s for profits, one task per student that will raise the profits.
    I think we are loosing perspective on all of this, VET providers are a service to the community by helping those who are less fortunate then the upper & middle classes of Australia.
    VET has provided many of opportunity for our people by providing our people with opportunities for employment, which puts less strain on our current social welfare country, Australia cannot afford to continue this way, the divide between our social classes will continue to grow.
    Industry Skills Councils, competency based training & regulation bodies that do not look at learning outcomes, maybe time to look at learning outcomes for students, better still make public student results, I look after Plumbing Apprentices from a regulated Industry, why not publish our external exam results, ask our students about our facilities, support, mentoring, training, teaching staff etc etc, the reality is that our government’s do not know what to do with training in this country & do not want to subsidise training anymore.

  8. Pingback: One rule of some another for TAFE! | TAFE Educa...

  9. Noel says:

    If left TAFE to start my own RTO and thought that our materials was good as it only just passed an ASQA audit 6 months earlier with TAFE. But no, as a private RTO the same materials failed the audit. We were even told “you are not TAFE now, they are treated differently”

    Where is the level playing field for private RTO’s

  10. Pingback: One rule of some another for TAFE! | TAFE Educa...

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