Context The last three years have seen an unprecedented growth in partnerships and partnership models between Higher Education and TAFE/VET: The Bradley Review spawned a new emphasis on the importance of a tertiary sector COAG targets for participation in both VET and Higher Education (HE) have influenced the ways in which HE and VET work together Increased emphasis on contestability in both sectors is a further driver, with the advent of uncapped places in Higher Education in 2012 set to drive further change – both competition and co-operation.
Overview of existing partnership models – 12 models
Dual Sector Universities/Higher Education Providers Five dual sector universities have existed for some time. Each has a different approach to managing the interface between TAFE and Higher Education. There is no consistent or agreed ‘ideal’ model. There are also several dual sector non-university HEPs. Model 1
New Dual Sector – Merger of Central Queensland University and Central Queensland Institute of TAFE Recently approved by the Queensland Government, this merger was fully supported by both these regionally based institutions, which have struggled financially and with size. The merger is intended to increase viability. It is subject to Commonwealth Funding under the Structural Adjustment Fund. Model 1b
Potential Dual Sector – Merger of University of Canberra (UC) and Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) The recent Bradley ‘Report on Options for Future Collaborations of Canberra Institute of Technology and University of Canberra’ cited ‘scale and mass’ as the main reason for recommending this merger. The merger is still to be finalised, but the Vice-Chancellor of UC has stated that it must be on UC’s terms. Model 1c
University – TAFE/VET Network Ballarat University is partnering with a network of regional TAFE institutes to sponsor their delivery of degrees and will make places available to them for this purpose. None of the TAFE partners currently offers degrees in its own right. There is also potential to create a new institution that includes the university and its partners, which would extend the footprint of what is already a dual sector university. Model 2
Concurrent HEP/RTO status 15 of the 39 (38%) of Australian universities are also RTOs in the VET sector, a greater number than is accounted for by the dual sector universities. In some cases, the RTO operates as part of a separate entity. There are increasing numbers of TAFE/VET providers gaining HEP status. Model 3
Cross–sectoral Dual Awards Most often, but not always in dual sector universities, students are offered concurrent, discrete awards in VET and HE. These may be, but are by no means always in the same discipline. Examples: Certificate IV in Frontline Management Certificate IV in Occupational Health & Safety Certificate IV in Business Management Certificate IV in Massage Practice Model 4
Physical Co-location of TAFE and Higher Education Mostly in regional areas, several examples exist of co-location as a means to strengthen co-operation and pathways between TAFE and HE and to improve efficiency and scale. Gippsland Education Precinct and Coffs Harbour Education Campus are but two examples. The details of these arrangements vary according to the location and local circumstances. Success may be dependent on the individuals involved. Model 5
Joint Delivery Through a project entitled Deakin at Your Doorstep, Deakin University obtained significant funding to partner with three TAFE institutes to enable them to offer Deakin Associate Degrees using a combination of distance and face-to-face learning. Model 6
Franchising There are many examples across Australia of universities entering into individual franchising arrangements with TAFE institutes. The Ballarat University Network is the most ambitious of these to date. Model 7
State-government facilitated pathways agreements between TAFE qualifications and the relevant universities. Both the South Australian and Queensland governments have intervened to formalise pathways between TAFE and the relevant State-based universities. This contrasts with pathways being negotiated by individual institutions on a case by case basis. Model 8
Embedded Programs/Integrated Pathways Some negotiated pathways between TAFE/VET and Higher Education involve embedded programs (Diplomas/Advanced Diplomas) and may be linked to guaranteed entry to university upon successful completion of the TAFE/VET component. Model 9
Credit Transfer via Course Mapping Course mapping is used for numerous individual pathways across the country, which include VET to Higher Education and, less often, Higher Education to VET in reverse articulation. The former may also involve bridging programs. The negotiation process can be time-consuming and is often personality dependent. Model 10
Cross-sectoral Electives A number of TAFE institutes with state of the art practical facilities make these available to universities for skill/applied learning electives in degree programs. Likewise, Higher Education electives are available to some TAFE/VET students. Model 11
Jointly Designed Degrees Degrees that are jointly designed at the outset by HE and VET partners have considerable potential for innovation. Outside of the dual sector institutions there is only limited evidence of this occurring at this stage. Joint accreditation would be a further step. Model 12
Other Partnership Arrangements There are numerous other individual partnership arrangements across Australia which involve TAFE to Higher Education pathways and, less often, Higher Education to TAFE in reverse articulation. They can involve a whole variety of public sector, private sector and international partners, not covered elsewhere. The negotiation process can be time- consuming and the results not always effective. Model 13
Summary of the Models Model 1- Dual Sector University/Higher Education Providers Model 2- University - TAFE/VET Network Model 3 - Concurrent HEP/RTO status Model 4 - Cross-sectoral Dual Awards Model 5 - Physical Co-location Model 6 - Joint Delivery Model 7 - Franchising Model 8 - State-government facilitated pathways Model 9 - Embedded Programs/Integrated Pathways Model 10 - Credit Transfer via Course Mapping Model 11 - Cross-sectoral Electives Model 12 - Jointly-designed Degrees Model 13 - Other
Observations For many of the partnership arrangements the predominant rationale is commercial – issues such as funding, financial viability, size, and increased competitiveness are primary Many of the partnerships rely on personalities and are at risk if there is a change of personnel Together they represent a huge amount of time and effort In by far the most cases, the university qualification remains intact in the pathway The extent to which this plethora of partnerships contributes to the diversity of offerings for students is debatable
The Acting Director General of Education and Training, NSW recently stated: Endless mapping of curriculum to try and get articulation right had seen only a trickle of VET students accepted into higher education. TAFE NSW has over 500 articulation agreements with universities for individual courses. The waste of time and effort of all that work, compared with the actual flow of students granted entry on the basis of that credit (shows) it’s not working.”
Some Implications Achievement of COAG participation targets relies on attracting new cohorts of students Partnerships and pathways, although important, are only part of the answer New qualifications and new provider types will be the way forward.
‘(TAFEs are) extending (their) educational successes to higher education where … it is feasible and strategic. (They) are are developing innovative teaching and learning approaches, (they) are preparing work-ready graduates, because (they) know how to prepare graduates who have got their hands dirty in real industry environments at the same time as having been educated to think critically and develop as global citizens. They are seeing … graduates meet goals by progressing to post-graduate study and gainful employment and … in the absence of public funding.’ Dr. Christine Spratt, The Age, October 25, 2-11, p.13 Final Thought
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