NCVER statistics show a massive increase in community education students in 2016

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) 2016 “Total VET Students and Courses” report (released 22 August 2017) shows a surprising – and very healthy – massive increase in activity for Australian community education organisations.

The report estimates the number of community education provider students in 2016 at 378,900, more than doubling the percentage in 2015: from 4.2% to 9.0%. The report also estimates a massive increase in community education subject enrolments, from 1003,600 (3.4% of the total) in 2015 to 1646,900 (5.5%) in 2016.

The NCVER report comments (p. 8) that, “The increase in the estimated number of students studying with a community education provider is likely to be a combination of better data reporting as well as an increase in training activity in 2016.”

Community education provider domestic fee-for-service subject enrolments also increased substantially from 2015, by 154.6% to 1.1 million.

In summary, in 2016:

  • Training activity was reported by 4279 training providers, including 426 community education providers. Of the community providers, 268 were Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and 158 were non-registered (all of the latter group located in Victoria).
  • The community education breakdown of RTOs was:
  • New South Wales – 75
  • Victoria – 113
  • Queensland – 35
  • South Australia – 10
  • Western Australia – 14
  • Tasmania – 7
  • Northern Territory – 4
  • ACT – 10
  • There were 4.2 million students enrolled in VET with an Australian training provider in 2016, a 4.9% increase from an estimated 4.0 million in 2015.
  • The participation rate of VET students in Australia as a proportion of the Australian population aged 15—64 years is estimated at 24.2%, an increase from 23.5% in 2015.

The estimated total VET students by provider type in 2016 (Table 3 in NCVER Report) was:

Provider type












Community education provider



Enterprise provider



Private training providers



Attending more than one provider type



Total students



Of students in the government-funded VET system in 2016, community providers had 5.8% (73,300 of 1.3 million), according to a separate NCVER report.

CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, comments:

“We are pleased the NCVER report shows that community education providers are now estimated to service some nine per cent (9%) of Australian VET students. We are concerned, however, that such widely varying data from previous years may hide some inconsistencies in reporting, and we note that organisations ‘self-identify’ for the purposes on NCVER data collection, so there can be some discrepancies.

“Irrespective of any inconsistencies, the NCVER figures tell us that community education providers now make a massive – and growing – contribution to Australian training.

“We call on all state, territory and the Commonwealth governments to ensure that our sector is properly resourced to provide our students and their communities with the support that they require to do their job. This is especially important given that our sector specialises in reaching the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.”

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