CCA report highlights how NSW ACE providers reach vulnerable and disadvantaged students

The latest Community Colleges Australia (CCA) report shows how NSW adult and community education (ACE) providers significantly over-perform on almost all tracked measures in reaching vulnerable and disadvantaged students.

This achievement results from targeted government funding, which combines with the ability of NSW ACE providers to use those funds effectively and successfully, to meet training outcomes for key equity groups.

Calendar year 2020 figures remain consistent with CCA’s previous analyses of the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 government-funded VET data, and show a long-established ability to provide training to many of the state’s learners who need training most.

ACE Government-Funded VET Student 2020 Percentages

In 2020, NSW ACE providers achieved the following percentage proportions of their government-funded VET student populations:

  • 16.7% students with a disability, compared to 9.6% of TAFE & government providers, 7.2.% of private for-profits, and 6.1% of other VET providers;
  • 62.1% regional and rural students, compared to 31.0% TAFE & government providers, 30.7% private for-profits, and 36.2% other VET providers;
  • 64.2% most disadvantaged students – bottom two SEIFA quintiles, compared to 46.2% TAFE & government providers, 52.3% private for-profits and 50.9% other VET providers;
  • 13.0% non-English speaking background students, compared to 20.8% of TAFE & government providers, 16.2% of private for-profit providers and 6.3% of other VET providers – the only area in which ACE providers do not out-perform other providers, due to high percentage of rural and regional students;
  • 35.5% older (age 45+) students, compared to 20.1% TAFE & government providers, 25.7% private for-profits and 12.1% other VET providers; and
  • 11.5% Indigenous students, compared to 7.9% of TAFE & government providers, 7.5% of private for-profit providers and 7.0% other VET providers.

“This is an extraordinary achievement, indicative of how important Australia’s ACE providers are to Australia’s social, economic and educational development. Re-engaging disadvantaged Australians, who are often the first to leave training during a crisis such as COVID-19 and the last to return, should be a high priority for all governments. ACE providers are central to that mission. New South Wales ACE providers are the ‘go to’ training organisations when you wish to reach regional, disabled, Indigenous, disadvantaged or older learners,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO. (See summary graphic below.)


In addition, 61.2% NSW ACE provider government-funded VET students were female, the highest of any VET provider group in 2020. This compares to 57.9% of TAFE, 51.8% of private for-profit providers, and 51.4% of other providers. According the Australian Medical Association and the Grattan Institute, “The challenges and burdens faced by women are exacerbated with women’s economic security, participation in formal employment, political representation, health outcomes and educational achievement negatively impacted, and more so than men.”

About the Report

The CCA report, entitled Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Students of NSW Adult and Community Education Providers: Analysis of 2020 Data (download a copy here in PDF) is the second “Fact Sheet” in CCA’s series on 2020 VET. It draws on data collected collated by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), and is the fifth year in a row that CCA has analysed the data.

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