Australia’s Adult and Community Education Sector in Perspective
The number of Australian adult and community education (ACE) students rebounded by 15.2% in 2021 from a pandemic-impacted low in 2020, according to data from the NCVER. ACE “Total VET” student numbers increased from 390,185 in 2020 to 449,500 in 2021.
In 2021, 4.3 million students were enrolled in nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET), an increase of 9.0% compared with 2020. In 2021, 3,186,795 students (74.1%) enrolled at private training providers, 778,300 (18.1%) at TAFE institutes, 449,500 (10.5%) at community education (ACE) providers, 114,100 (2.7%) at schools, 107,000 (2.5%) at enterprise providers and 75,600 (1.8%) at universities. Read more about the data here.
ACE Students by State and Territory in 2021
|State/Territory||2019||2020||2021||Change 2020 to 2021 (%)||National ACE total 2021 (%)|
|New South Wales||206,940||167,100||168,835||1||37.6|
|Australian Capital Territory||8,935||5,235||4,290||-18||1|
Source: NCVER 2022, Total VET Students and Courses 2021: students DataBuilder
In addition to the 400+ ACE providers which deliver accredited and pre-accredited vocational education and training, more than 2000 other ACE providers offer personal interest learning and other courses, including adult basic education in language, literacy, numeracy, digital and other foundation skills (see Adult Learning Australia, Adult Community Education Australian Environmental Scan 2020).
Australian adult and community education providers have achieved the best results in bringing students from unemployment into employment, according to 2022 student outcomes data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). ACE providers have shown the greatest increase of adult students employed after training, compared to other vocational education and training (VET) providers. Nationally ACE providers excelled, with a 16.1% increase, compared to 12.6% for TAFE, 10.5% for private for-profit providers and a national average of 11.7%. Read more about ACE 2022 student outcomes here.