It’s election eve and the Liberals have failed to engage in any election policy debate on their education and training policies.

Simon Birmingham this week admitted that the Liberals’ plan for higher education is to introduce fee deregulation and $100,000 degrees after the election, despite not actually talking about it during the campaign.

Senator Birmingham has done his very best to hide the Liberals’ true intentions to cut university funding by 20 per cent, slug students with $100,000 degrees, and Americanise higher education at taxpayers’ expense.

Meanwhile the ‘Missing Minister’ for Vocational Education and Skills, Senator Scott Ryan, has not released one single policy on TAFE or apprentices and has not even bothered to visit TAFEs and apprentices during the campaign. His level of interest in the portfolio is clearly zero.

The Missing Minister’s complete failure to do his job should surely put him on the endangered species list after the election – unless he gets an absentee note from Senator Birmingham, who hasn’t done much better in his portfolio area.

Only Labor has a plan to properly fund universities and TAFEs over the coming decade and avoid the unfair and unnecessary imposition on students of soaring fees and debt.

The choice on education and training this election is stark and clear:



Higher Education

Higher Education

Introduce a new higher education Student Funding Guarantee, which will deliver $2,500 more per student than the Liberals, and remove the need for higher fees and a lifetime of debt.


Cuts and Student debt

Increase the number of university students completing their study by 20,000 graduates a year from 2020.



Invest $31 million in Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency to boost the quality of teaching and resources in our universities.



Establish an independent Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to ensure graduates meet the needs of the future economy.


Offer a Startup Year at university to young Australians looking to start their own enterprise.


Restore funding for indirect cost of research and better collaboration.


Introduce a Higher Education Access and Growth Strategy to improve outcomes for low income students, students from rural and regional areas, Indigenous students and first generation migrants, students with disabilities and other disadvantaged students.


Cut equity programs


Cross Portfolio

Invest up to $430 million nationally to establish a network of Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education to deliver new technical and education opportunities to areas where access remains difficult and participation is too low.



Vocational Education

Vocational Education

A loan cap of $8,000 a year in the VET FEE-HELP program to stop the huge waste of taxpayers’ money, to prevent price gouging of students and to improve training.


A TAFE funding guarantee. This will ensure that a guaranteed proportion of government funding for vocational education stays with TAFE, so that our TAFE system can continue to provide training opportunities for those who need it most.


Establish a VET ombudsman


Conduct a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system in order to build a stronger sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.


Ensure a proportion of the jobs on major federally-funded projects are delivered as apprenticeships. One in ten jobs on Labor’s priority infrastructure projects will be filled by Australian apprentices creating 2600 new apprenticeship places.


Bring back Tools for Your Trade – the valuable apprentice support program axed by the Abbott-Turnbull Government. From 1 July 2017, workers starting an apprenticeship will be eligible for $3,000 in payments throughout their training.


Help more unemployed young people into apprenticeships by creating 10,000 new Apprentice Ready places and see retrenched workers gain formal recognition of their skills through 5,000 accelerated apprenticeships so they can find their next job.     


Pilot a National Skills Recognition Entitlement program with 5,000 places to help mature-aged, retrenched workers turn their extensive work experience into formal qualifications.


$10 million a year for Group Training so that these organisations can help to get more apprentices into work,


Establish an Apprenticeships Connect search portal.


Appoint a dedicated Apprentice Advocate.


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