Figures released today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) add to the picture of creeping growth in non-completions across Australia’s higher education and vocational education and training systems.
Non-completion can have serious consequences for people who incur costs and debts without gaining a qualification, and for Commonwealth and state government funding for post-school education.
The figures come on top of recent concerning revelations that young Australians are too often being let down and exploited by unscrupulous providers.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) confirmed in Senate Estimates in February that it was investigating 23 providers. In May the ACCC confirmed that it was investigating misleading and unconscionable conduct by training providers.
To date no information has been publicly released regarding any of the providers under investigation.
Students could be undertaking training at a provider who is under investigation and incurring a debt to get a worthless piece of paper while the Abbott Government sits on its hands.
If students are dropping out due to unethical practices or poor quality courses this needs to be exposed now.
The current Senate inquiry into the private vocational education and training (VET) sector has shown that low quality, substandard training is a serious concern.
The Abbott Government has had two years to address the issue but we continue to hear reports of problems across the country.
Australians have seen regular, persistent and disturbing media reports in recent months of shady marketing and recruitment practices, with some providers targeting vulnerable people and signing them up to training courses that may be of poor quality and inappropriate to their needs.
Yet this Government is prepared to bury evidence rather than address the issue, as we have seen with the still unreleased detail sought by Victorian Government on the recent ASQA report into childcare training.
Instead, the Abbott Government must find a way to weed out unscrupulous providers and contain the growth in the cost of the Higher Education Loan Program.
It is now beyond time that the Liberals realise that the responsibility of Government demands action, not more excuses, blame shifting and weasel words.
The Senate inquiry will resume with public hearings on Wednesday 2nd September in Melbourne