By Don Perlgut, CEO, CCA
A just-released report from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER), entitled VET Provider Market Structures: History, Growth and Change, provides up-to-date numbers on why community education still matters to Australia.
This research paper utilises 2014 data to explore how national and historical policy changes have impacted the numbers and structure of the vocational educational and training (VET) provider market over the past 20 years.
The report’s “key messages” include:
- During 2014, the community sector had 190,604 students, of the total student numbers of 4,008,489 (4.7%). The private (for-profit) sector had the largest number of students – 2,095,171 (52%) – with TAFE second with 1,115,865 (28%). The community sector had approximately the same number of students as the schools and the associations sectors, and more than double the number of the enterprises sector. (See Table 1 below.)
- Of the 497 community-based RTOs operating in 2014: 223 (45%) had 1-100 students, 227 (46%) had 101 to 1000 students, 46 (9%) had between 1001 and 10,000 students and only 1 provider reported an enrolment greater than 10,000. In other words, 91% of community providers delivered to 1,000 students or less. (See Table 2 below.)
- While community providers are represented across all geographic categories, they play a particularly important role in regional areas, especially “inner regional”. While TAFE and the schools sector are important players in regional areas, the private for-profit, associations and enterprises sectors are predominantly metropolitan. This underlines the importance of the community sector to regional and rural Australia. (See Table 3 below.)
- Despite news reports of extensive disruption in the VET sector, the number of VET providers have remained relatively stable for many years: “VET market reforms and changing funding regimes … appear not to have driven major changes in provider numbers, despite the underlying turnover of providers.”
- The VET sector had almost 3 times as many students as the higher education sector in 2014, yet had 35 times as many providers. As a consequence, the report raises questions about the business mass and the VET system’s capacity to regulate this number. This finding underscores CCA’s commitment to enhancing the corporate governance and strategic capabilities of our members.
The report (page 9) notes that, “Over the past two decades the VET market has been increasingly opened up to competition. This has in part been driven by funding policy reforms that support greater contestability across the training market, thereby increasing the numbers of private and other non-government providers in a market historically dominated by the TAFE institutes.”
The report expresses some surprise on the different sizes of providers (page 23): “The extraordinarily wide disparity between the sizes of providers clearly warrants further investigation and prompts questions such as: how have the largest providers in the market achieved their position, particularly the non-TAFE providers?”
Table 1: Training organisations and students by type, 2014 (Table 5, NCVER Report, page 18)
|Schools||960||202 415||211||82||1||16 832|
|TAFE||57||1 115 865||19 577||16 661||680||92 530|
|Universities||15||83 631||5 575||657||33||18 426|
|Enterprises||210||90 816||432||95||1||9 069|
|Community||497||190 604||384||129||1||10 900|
|Private||2 557||2 095 171||819||204||1||104 581|
|Associations||221||193 821||877||238||1||22 117|
|Other||87||36 166||416||80||1||8 815|
|Overall||4 604||4 008 489||871||146||1||104 581|
Note: Some providers report data under multiple types, so the number of providers may differ from that reported in other publications. Students were also counted in each provider type in which they train. The NCVER notes that the “figure of four million may differ from other published figures because in this case students may have been counted multiple times if they train at more than one provider type.” Source: NCVER (2014).
|Private||904||1 198||431||24||2 557|
|Total||1 891||2 063||577||73||4 604|
Note: Some providers report data under multiple types, so the number of providers may differ from that reported in other publications. Source: NCVER (2014).
|Major cities||Inner regional||Outer regional||Remote||Very remote||Unknown||Total|
|Private||1 974||345||143||14||5||119||2 600|
|Total||3 210||821||380||49||18||196||4 674|
Note: Providers can report under multiple types and remoteness categories and in this case they are counted under each category they appear, so the number of providers listed may differ from other publications. Source: NCVER (2014).