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Industry unites to weed out errant private education providers

THE sector “will not sit idly by” while the behaviours of a few rogue operators tarnish the reputation of many, says Australian Council for Private Education chief Rod Camm. Darren Boon reports. 

Private education in Australia

The private education and training sector is rallying together to target and weed out rogue operators through a multi-faceted approach.

At an industry summit hosted by the Australian Council for Private Education (ACPET) on October 30, ACPET chief executive Rod Camm said the industry would not “sit idly by while the behaviours of a few tarnish the reputation of many”.

“Our industry is not going to bury its head in the sand and pretend there isn’t a problem with a small minority of providers,” he said.

Senior representatives at the summit from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Careers Australia, English Australia, Group Training Australia, the International Education Association of Australia, JMC Academy, Navitas, Study Group, the Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, and Restaurant and Catering Australia said they would back an industry-led response to the issue.

Participants agreed to work together on three fronts – enhanced engagement with regulators and authorities, developing a code of conduct and ethics with regards to marketing and recruitment practices for members/brokers/third parties along with external validation and quality checks, and developing a framework to encourage and reward educational excellence.

There were also calls at the summit for more industry-government engagement with regards to the private education sector.

“Our industry is determined to be part of the solution,” Mr Camm said.

“The strategies determined at last week’s summit show a shared commitment to quality across private providers in the higher education, vocational education, English language and international fields”.

“The approach outlined will help to ensure our great sector can again focus on the core business of delivering high quality education and training that meets the needs of students and employers,” he said.

Meanwhile ACPET has also urged the Senate to pass the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 in the interest of student choice and improved quality.

The Bill, if passed, provides demand-driven funding for sub-bachelor degrees, such as diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees, and extends Government subsidies to bachelor and sub-bachelor courses at private universities and non-university higher education providers, according to its explanatory memoranda.

“Student choice is actually what drives the success of high quality providers, regardless of whether they are private or public,” Mr Camm said.

He added private students should be accorded the “same opportunity of access to the Commonwealth loan scheme to support them in their study”.

He said student choice, supported by high quality standards and a strong regulatory regime, was “the best way to ensure the highest quality higher education sector in Australia”.

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