Government-funded VET student numbers down but community provider student numbers up

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released details of government-funded students and courses in calendar year 2018: approximately 1.1 million students enrolled in the government-funded VET system last year.

Australian government-funded VET student numbers peaked in 2000, with 1,721,425 students, and were 1,113,369 last year (2018), down 1.9% from 2017 (1,135,335 students). This is the lowest number of  government VET students since 1992 (1,042,547), when the Australian population was 17.5 million. By comparison, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated Australia’s population at the end of 2018 at 25,180,200 people – an increase of 38%.

In other words, 6.7% of the Australian population aged 15 to 64 years participated in the government-funded VET system in Australia in 2018. This compares to 2000, when more than 8.9% of the population participated in the government-funded VET system, and when the Australian population was only 19.2 million.

The report also notes that, “In the past six years, government-funded full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) have decreased by 30.6%, from 673,600 FYTEs in 2012 to 467,200 FYTEs in 2018.”

“This decrease is dramatic, because it means that the actual percentage of Australians participating in government-funded VET dropped by about 25% over an 18 year period, and in absolute terms by more than 700,000 students. In the past 6 years, the drop has been more than 200,000 students,” said Dr Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia (CCA).

“The good news is that government-funded VET students with not-for-profit community providers increased by 2.8% in 2018, to 58,070, from 56,473 in 2017. Contrast this to other VET sectors, with students attending TAFE increasing by 0.9% and students attending other – primarily for-profit providers decreasing by 5.3%,” said Dr Don Perlgut.

“It is important to place these numbers in perspective, as the Australian population increased by 1.6% in 2018. This means that the national decrease is even more dramatic,” said Dr Perlgut.

According to the NCVER, in 2018, a total of 1747 training organisations delivered government-funded VET, consisting of:

  • 35 TAFE institutes;
  • 10 other government providers;
  • 357 community education providers; and
  • 1403 other providers.

The government-funded VET system in 2018 comprised:

  • 575,800 (51.7%) students at TAFE and other government providers (570,000 in 2017);
  • 58,100 (5.2%) students at community education providers (56,473 in 2017);
  • 406,700 (36.5%) students at other providers (429,400 in 2017);
  • 72,800 students (6.5%) attending more than one type of provider (78,600 in 2017).

Data note: The report notes that, “From 2016, all fee-for-service activity (including that delivered by TAFE and other government providers) has been excluded from the scope of government-funded activity, so that Government-funded students and courses now only reports Commonwealth and state/territory government-funded training activity. The new scope has been backdated to 2003 in all NCVER resources. Fee-for-service activity from TAFE and other government, adult and community education and other training providers is reported in the Total VET students and courses publication.”

Read the Sydney Morning Herald report on the report release (18 July 2019), which quotes the Business Council of Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, TAFE Directors Australia and Minister Michaelia Cash.

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