Axe falls on 18 Victorian training colleges
Aug 13, 2016 | News | by Learning Press staff
The Victorian government has shut down 18 training colleges catering to 4000 students - just weeks after new research found the state’s expanded vocational training sector was linked to a significant drop in crime.
The Andrews government terminated the contracts after education department investigations found rorting, unauthorised subcontracting and poor quality training were rife among the offending companies.
The government will seek to recoup some $50 million after providers either ignored a ban on offering laptops as sign-up incentives to prospective students, enrolled the same students more than once or failed to provide promised training.
Training and skills minister Steve Herbert said: “Providers have undermined the integrity of our training system and done untold damage to young people's perceptions of training."
The 4000-plus students part-way through their studies have been referred to local Tertiary and Further Education colleges (TAFEs) to continue their courses.
The defunding follows the release of a University of Melbourne report on how the spectre of scandal has caused the benefits of an expansion in Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) to be overlooked.
"These reforms did increase access to publicly funded training and that has had positive flow on effects," said study co-author Cain Polidano.
The paper revealed a boost in enrolments was associated with a 12.8 per cent decline in the drug crime rate, an 11.3 per cent drop in property crime and a 4.5 per cent reduction in assaults and other crimes against the person.
The academics focused on the crime rate in Victoria between 2010 and 2013, which coincided with a 75 per cent increase in school leavers enrolled in TAFEs and private colleges.
The report estimated that for every dollar spent expanding VET in Victoria, the community saved 18 cents by avoiding crime costs.
"Given the large cost to the community of drug crimes, including lost productivity, health and rehabilitation costs, this represents an important saving to the community," it stated.
Following a nationwide crackdown on shonky providers in the sector, latest figures show a 13.2 per cent drop in Victoria’s VET student enrolments for the year.
Australian Council for Private Education and Training chief executive Rod Camm said he supported the crackdown, but argued it had come too late to protect the reputation of the sector.
He emphasised that the majority of private training colleges delivered high-quality courses, with student satisfaction rates above 80 per cent.
The training providers to lose their licences are: