Australia’s vocational education (VET) system faces an ‘uncertain future’ due to state and federal governments’ lack of funding, according to a report from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute.
The report claimed that VET funds have fallen 4.7% for 2015-2016, which represented the lowest level in the last 10 years. The decline took place despite ‘piecemeal’ and ‘ad hoc’ strategies for spending, and officeline.com.au says that this may include educational furniture.
The Mitchell Institute’s report aligned with a recent analysis by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research. Since 2013, VET funds have dropped significantly in several states and territories. It contrasted the pace of growth in spending for other schools and higher education. Mitchell Institute said that VET remains important in some critical employment areas.
These sectors include aged care, early childhood education, and hospitality where vocational training provides workers with the necessary skills in their respective fields. However, the lack of funding and a ‘cohesive funding framework’ somehow turns off some students, according to Mitchell Institute Director Megan O’Connell.
The funding gap between VET and Australian universities manifested by a more than 50% growth in funds for tertiary education. The increase covered expenses aside from workforce compensation and tuition fees. While universities generate revenue from international students and other sources, the report suggested that Australia focuses more on university education than the VET system.
As a result, some students would rather take up a bachelor degree than sign up for vocation education even if they originally want the latter. O’Connell said that the different structure between VET and university fees influences a student’s decision, as it would cost them less to pay for a bachelor degree
Federal and state governments in Australia need to bridge the gap between VET and university funding, as both types of education should be treated with equal importance.