MEDIA RELEASE - LABOR ANNOUNCES SHAKE-UP OF TAFE AND UNIS - FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2018

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN

 

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS

 

TERRI BUTLER MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EQUALITY

 

LABOR ANNOUNCES SHAKE-UP OF TAFE AND UNIS

 

Labor wants prospective students to see TAFE and uni as equally attractive study options.

 

That’s why today we’ve announced a once in generation National Inquiry into Post-Secondary Education that will look at every aspect of the vocational and higher education systems, to ensure they can best respond to the needs of Australia’s economy and society. 

 

This will be the first time a national inquiry has put TAFE and unis on an equal footing.

 

This is about the future.  It’s about making sure Australians have access to the best post-secondary opportunities in the world.  

 

Labor believes we need to be thinking about children who are just starting school now – what will work and life look like for them in years to come, and what kind of post-secondary education will best prepare them?

 

We want our kids to get the education and skills they need to thrive, and to make sure all Australians have the opportunity of lifelong learning.

 

TAFE specialises in skills, unis are our research powerhouses - and we see many examples of excellence from both.  But there is much more that can be done to capitalise on those strengths, and endless opportunities to reach new heights by having TAFE and unis working together more often. 

 

If Australia is to continue to be a wealthy, highly-educated nation, we must boost participation in quality post-secondary education. 

 

Countries in our region are investing heavily in education and skills.  Experts have warned, if we rest on our laurels, Australia risks being left behind.

 

Strong post-secondary education will underwrite Australia’s future prosperity.

 

This sweeping inquiry is long overdue.  No Australian Government in history has ever looked at vocational education and unis as a whole like this. 

 

TAFE and vocational education is in crisis. The number of students attending TAFE has collapsed due to funding cuts and unhealthy competition from private providers accessing government subsidies.  The system is both fragmented and rigid.  Partial reviews have not fixed underlying problems.  So we must act now.  Labor will put public TAFE at the centre of Australia’s vocational education system.  The review will look at the special role TAFE has, including helping Australian business become more competitive at home, and internationally.  

 

The number of Australians going to university has increased because Labor uncapped uni places.  But the cuts and chaos inflicted on unis by the Liberals means participation is uneven.  Disadvantaged students remain underrepresented, particularly Indigenous students, and students from regional areas.  The fact Malcolm Turnbull has effectively abandoned the demand driven system shows he doesn’t care about fixing this.

 

The status quo simply isn’t good enough.  

 

It’s time to rethink how we do things.  

 

We should not be trying to make our national interest fit the system.  We should be shaping the system to fit our national interest.

 

Labor believes the Australian people deserve to have confidence in our post-secondary education system, and that Australian industry does too. 

 

We want this inquiry ready to go in the first 100 days of a Labor Government.

 

In the coming weeks, Labor will convene a panel of experts, sector leaders, union and business representatives, to advise on the scope and terms of this national inquiry.

 

The inquiry will be conducted within existing departmental resources. 

 

 

FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2018