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ERIC Number: ED507212
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 60
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 80
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-9214-1328-5
ISSN: ISSN-1837-0659
Higher Education in TAFE. NCVER Monograph Series 01/2009
Wheelahan, Leesa; Moodie, Gavin; Billet, Stephen; Kelly, Ann
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
Degrees in technical and further education (TAFE) are relatively new, but are likely to grow as a consequence of government policies that both seek to increase the percentage of Australians holding a bachelor degree and create a more unified tertiary education sector. There are ten TAFE institutes authorised to offer higher education in five states, with fewer than 1600 higher education students in TAFE in 2006. Initially, TAFE institutes focused on niche programs not offered by universities; however, they now offer vocationally focused programs similar to those of many universities. This project sought to understand different perspectives on the nature of higher education in TAFE by interviewing staff from six state offices of higher education, senior managers at two dual-sector universities and nine TAFE institutes (in six states), along with teachers and students. Six of the nine TAFE institutes included in this project offer higher education, and the other three do not. Most interviewees argued that the rationale for higher education provision in TAFE is to meet, through its applied orientation, specific industry needs and to provide a pathway for students who need support to access higher education. Others argued, by contrast, that industry and students benefit most if TAFE works in partnership with universities through complementary provision, rather than via its own higher education provision. Interviewees argued that the different reporting, funding, quality assurance, industrial and curriculum frameworks of the higher education and vocational education and training (VET) sectors constrain the growth of higher education in TAFE. The challenges identified as confronting TAFE in developing this provision include: the absence of a research culture; difficulties in recruiting appropriately qualified staff; the need to invest in staff development; the existing industrial award covering TAFE teachers; costs of program development; the resources needed to sustain higher education provision; and, crucially, the absence of public funding for TAFE's higher education qualifications and the lack of community understanding about these programs. Some TAFE institutes are seeking to become a new type of institution, similar to a polytechnic that offers a range of qualifications, from senior school and VET, through to higher education. Other TAFE institutes see their higher education programs as an extension of their role as VET providers. Teachers were, if anything, more in favour of higher education in TAFE than senior management, but most teachers argued that existing industrial and working conditions were obstacles to its development, as was management's lack of insight into the nature of their work. Students said that they valued the high levels of support they received, although younger students were more uncertain of their identity as higher education students and more troubled by the status of their qualification, even though almost all claimed they would recommend their program to friends. The status of TAFE's higher education qualifications was an issue that concerned all categories of interviewees. This project concludes that higher education in TAFE should be established as a component of a coherent tertiary education policy framework to ensure the quality of provision and that it meets its intended outcomes. This includes consideration of the governance, policy, funding, quality assurance, curriculum and industrial frameworks required to realise academic standards and to support TAFE institutes to develop economies of scale and the expertise and culture needed to sustain higher education provision. Three appendices are included: (1) Methods; (2) Profile of interviewees; and (3) Profile of higher education programs in TAFE institutes. (Contains 8 tables and 13 footnotes.) [Funding for this report was provided through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Additional information relating to this research is available in ED507214 "Higher Education in TAFE: Support Document".]
National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. P.O. Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia. Tel: +61-8-230-8400; Fax: +61-8-212-3436; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Centre for Vocational Education Research
Identifiers - Location: Australia