Community Education Student Numbers Increased in 2019

Australian not-for-profit community education student numbers continue to increase, according the latest data released from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

In the 2019 calendar year, community education providers enrolled 489,100 “total VET” students, 11.6% of the national total of 4.2 million, representing an increase of 1.6% (7,900) on the previous year – 2018. By comparison, 3.0 million students (72.1%) enrolled at private for-profit training providers, 779,200 (18.6%) at TAFE institutes, 124,400 (3.0%) at enterprise providers, 108,000 (2.6%) at schools and 77,600 (1.8%) at universities. (Percentages add up to more than 100% as students may have enrolled in training with multiple provider types.)

“With almost one-half million students in 2019, community education providers represent a significant force in Australia’s crucial training system. To be clear: for all of the public attention paid to TAFE, the public provider enrolled just 59% more students than community providers,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia (CCA).

Overall, 23.4% of the Australian resident population aged 15 to 64 years participated in nationally recognised VET in Australia in 2019. Comparing 2019 with 2018:

  • student numbers increased by 3.2% from 4.1 million to 4.2 million;
  • full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) increased by 0.9% to 1.1 million;
  • students enrolled in nationally recognised programs increased by 3.0% to 2.1 million; and
  • students enrolled in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program increased by 4.0% to 2.6 million.

Government-funded VET community education students slightly decreased in 2019 (71,700) compared to 2018 (72,500), representing 6.2% of the national student total of 1,083,300. By comparison, 614,100 government-funded students (53.4%) enrolled at TAFE institutes, 56,500 (4.9%) at other government providers, 357,400 (31.1%) at private for-profit training providers, and 98,500 (8.6%) at other training providers.

“Australia’s not-for-profit community education sector has great capacity to expand its student delivery of government-funded VET. Up until 2002, more than 200,000 government-funded VET students enrolled with community providers each year. It’s a terrible loss to Australia that the numbers are only about one-third that now, however the anticipated expansion with JobTrainer means that community providers can again contribute to meeting Australia’s national skills needs,” said Dr Don Perlgut.

According to the NCVER report (Tables 3 & 4), 336 community education providers delivered government-funded VET nationally in 2019, down from 357 the year before. In addition, 25 TAFE institutes, 10 other government providers, 1,025 private for-profit providers and 276 other providers received government VET funding.

The most popular level of study in government-funded VET was Certificate III, which represented just under half (46.8%) of all 2019 enrolments. In 2019, compared with 2018, the number of government-funded students increased in all jurisdictions except the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Notes on NCVER provider definitions

  • “Other government providers” are government-owned and managed education facilities/organisations, other than TAFE institutes, that deliver VET (for example, agricultural colleges).
  • “Other training providers” refer to secondary schools, non-government enterprises, education/training businesses or centres, professional associations, industry associations, equipment/product manufacturers and suppliers, and other training providers not elsewhere classified.

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