Extended Support for Australia’s Education Sector

The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement today of an extended multi-million-dollar financial package supporting the education sector to bounce back as international borders reopen.

Today’s announcement comes on the back of requests to ACoP for consultative input from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) on how the sector might respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This led to the release of a Joint Statement in May 2020 by the entire Australian higher education sector outlining consensus-based principles for adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and providing guidance on how to mitigate and minimise the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the following areas:

  1. Accreditation Flexibility and maintaining Course Quality
  2. Maintaining Quality during changed Teaching and Learning
  3. Supporting Online Assessments while maintaining Rigour
  4. Mitigating a reduced availability of Professional Placements
  5. Flexibility on (Re-)Registration/Accreditation of Professionals
  6. Maintaining International Accords for Professionals’ Mobility

You can read the full Joint Statement, facilitated by ACoP, here.

ACoP also provided input to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) ‘Fees and Charges Proposal Consultation Paper’ in June 2021 which was based on aggregated responses from our Member Organisations regarding the impacts of cost recovery on their ability to continue delivering quality higher education.  While we support the current regulatory environment that evaluates and recognises best practices in the higher education sector, concerns were raised that required further consultation.

Our submission argued against a proposed implementation in January 2022, as it was felt that this timeline did not take into account the impacts of COVID-19.  This timing might also have had the unintended consequence of forcing providers to cease offering accredited courses, which provide high quality, niche education that currently ensures curriculum currency for graduates to be work- and professional-practice ready.  ACoP requested opportunities to consult further on some of the elements of the proposal.

Our submission to TEQSA can be found here.

According to the Federal Government today, more than $37 million will be available to support those international education providers most affected by COVID-19, including extended regulatory fee waivers and additional grants. The package includes:

  • $27.8 million in regulatory fee relief for the duration of 2022, including certain fees for Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), TEQSA, Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registrations, and the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) Levy.
  • Extension of the current FEE-HELP loan fee exemption until 31 December 2022, benefiting around 30,000 undergraduate higher education students studying at institutes of higher education and public universities.
  • An additional $9.4 million to extend the Innovation Development Fund, delivering further short-term targeted support to private English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) providers to diversify their education offerings into online and offshore delivery.

“These additional measures are welcome as they are critical if the education sector, both domestic and international, is to continue to provide quality course offerings in a rapidly evolving teaching, learning and accreditation environment”, said ACoP President A/Prof Klaus Veil.

ACoP will continue to consult with key government departments, our member organisations and relevant industry bodies in advocating for support in the development and implementation of a robust, financially viable framework that prepares students and graduates as future professionals and enhance their future employability.

We invite professional associations who are not members of ACoP to join our alliance as we work collectively to uphold the continuity, integrity and reputation of Australian higher education and recognising its indispensable contribution to Australia’s well-being and prosperity.

For more details, head to our Membership page or contact CEO@Professions.org.au

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