The Future of Registered Training Organisations in Australia report highlights several challenges facing Australia's VET sector and calls for an urgent review.
The research was conducted by researchers from RMIT University's College of Business with the Australian Learning, Training and Education Centre (ALTEC).
Researchers found operation and compliance costs with inadequate funding support from government and little financial assistance for students was suffocating Registered Training Organisation (RTOs) in particular.
Report co-author from RMIT’s School of Business IT and Logistics, Professor Prem Chhetri, said Australia had struggled in recent years to formulate a consistent policy framework towards international education in general, and RTOs in particular.
“Recent media commentary reiterates the need for the re-elected Coalition government to find the best way to regulate the VET market,” he said.
Conflicting and incoherent immigration policies and visa requirements for international students had created confusion for potential students, he said, while unpredictable policymaking made it hard for RTOs to respond effectively to market demands.
“The future of RTOs in a demand-driven, quasi-market system in Australia looks uncertain,” Chhetri said.
“This is compounded by a reluctance to deal with the difficult nexus between education and permanent residency."
"Policy interventions to deter access to permanent residence for locally-trained international students have been a key element of nationalist and populist rhetoric.”
The report warns worst-case scenarios from failing to act could be reduced VET completion rates, reduced student choices, increased fees and student debt, and possible unethical business practices that would harm Australia’s reputation as a quality educational provider.
“The future of RTOs is heavily dependent on good policy formulation and an effective regulatory regime. The primary stakeholders including domestic students, teachers and unions however have the power and interest to shape the future of RTOs, so now is the time to do that.”
The report was co-authored by Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research in RMIT's College of Business, Professor Geoffrey Stokes.
Story: Michael Quin