TAFE Directors Australia chief executive officer Martin Riordan has called for urgent government action to curb funding to substandard private training organisations. Source: Supplied
Taxpayer funding for “risky” private colleges should be stopped, with as much as $9 billion in public money at stake every year, says the public vocational education and training sector.
TAFE Directors Australia chief executive Martin Riordan has called for urgent government action to curb funding to substandard private training organisations.
“We are talking about expenditure of up to $9 billion a year,” he told The Australian.
“It’s massive. This puts pink batts to sleep in terms of the scale.
“There’s too much money at stake to not take more urgent action.”
Mr Riordan’s comments come after revelations in The Australian today that private training colleges have profiteered at public expense, tripling tuition fees in three years and lumping taxpayers with a ballooning $3 billion bill for student loans.
Mr Riordan said it was not just funding for student loans that was “going out willy nilly” but also course funding to vocational education and training providers.
He said the government should work with the regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority, “in an urgent way” to ensure that all training organisations were categorised according to risk.
“Funding should only go to the low-risk providers,” he said.
“Clearly if the government and everyone is saying there are good private providers then put some of those in the low risk categories with the TAFEs.
“But let’s not keep funding groups that we don’t know anything about.”
He said he believed a regulatory structure that categorised operators according to risk was the only way to ensure taxpayer funding was only handed to quality training providers.
“I think it’s the only alternative to stop the rorts and we are as alarmed as anyone at how deep it has become,” he said.
“It’s not just the loans but also student funding that needs to be looked at.”
Mr Riordan said TAFE directors were “surprised” ASQA had “not found capacity to regulate the sector in a more strict way than they have.
From the Australian