On National TAFE Day, Labor is proud to announce that a Shorten Labor Government will establish Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education to deliver new technical and education opportunities to areas where access remains difficult and participation is too low.   

A total of ten pilot sites will be established across Australia, in locations where need is demonstrated, and where institutions, industry and local communities are ready to implement locally tailored Institutes.

The Institutes will see universities working together with TAFE to trial approaches tailored to local conditions, giving students the skills they need to find local jobs.

While Australians are accessing higher education at record rates, the participation rate in some areas has hardly budged.

Hurdles preventing access vary from place to place, but include high unemployment, industry dislocation, economic structural change and distance to campus.

Labor knows these barriers must be broken down to ensure access to jobs and education is fair and widely available. Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education are part of that solution.

Commonwealth Institutes will deliver a mix of higher education and advanced vocational education as joint ventures between universities, TAFEs, industry and in many cases state and local government.

Commonwealth Institutes will be the specialist providers in the delivery of high quality and hands-on work-integrated learning. Applied real-world learning will be their distinguishing feature.

Labor will invest up to $430 million nationally to establish the network of pilot sites for this timely and practical initiative.

The funding will directly support over 10,000 Commonwealth Supported Places across the country, as well as helping to provide essential infrastructure for high quality teaching that will benefit thousands more.    

Commonwealth Institutes will deliver Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees, as specified by Australian Qualifications Framework Level 6. Students will have a tradeable high-skill exit qualification, and the option to continue on to bachelor-level study at university.

As a condition of funding, Commonwealth Institutes will be required to demonstrate engagement with industry and links to regional labour market need, give instruction that leads to real economy jobs, and offer a pathway to higher study at a university.

For the first time, Australia will have a network of tertiary education institutions that bring together the best of applied higher education and high-level technical and vocational skills to deliver an innovation and technology driven boost to the Australian economy.

This initiative will build on Labor’s existing commitments in schools, TAFE, universities and workplaces across the nation.

By contrast the Liberals are cutting university funding and introducing $100,000 degrees. It is hard to imagine a more economically myopic decision than erecting walls around education.

At the same time, the Liberals have stood by while the VET system’s reputation has been trashed, its students ripped off, its quality of provision degraded, and the taxpayer bled dry by unscrupulous operators raiding the VET FEE-HELP system.

Only Labor can be trusted to have a comprehensive plan for Australian higher education, ensuring Australia’s prosperity and secure jobs of the future. 

For more information on Labor’s positive plan for Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education, please visit:

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