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Privatisation of vocational education isn’t working

In The Conversation (24.2.15) Serena Yu and Damian Oliver discuss the ‘various horror stories of the workings of dodgy private providers of vocational education and training.

‘Private providers are amassing huge profits at taxpayers’ expense, the quality of the system is declining and students may face large debts for courses they either didn’t complete or were not of a high standard. Unscrupulous practices by some private providers include:

  • aggressive marketing with a common “buy now, pay later, plus free iPad” hook
  • subcontracting out course content, teaching and assessment to other providers, including unregistered providers
  • up-selling students into courses they hadn’t intended to enrol in
  • delivering courses in fewer hours and online
  • significant merger and acquisition activity, with large enterprises owning portfolios of registered and unregistered training brands, which are out of the regulator’s line of sight.

They conclude that ‘we need to recognise that the rhetoric of privatisation has not matched reality, and work out how to shift to a system that reliably delivers what students expect – a high-quality course at a fair price.’

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