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The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) recently released the 2015 data for Government-funded students and courses. The report highlights that there were 1.6 million students enrolled in the government-funded VET system and of the 1.6 million students, approximately 1.2 million were Commonwealth or state-funded with the remainder fee-for-service at TAFE or other government providers.

In comparison to 2014, there has been a decline in participation:

  • Student numbers declined by 10.7% from 1.8 million to 1.6 million
  • Subject enrolments declined by 9.4% to 14.4 million subjects
  • Hours of delivery and full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) both decreased by 13.7%

Analysing specific states:

  • Victoria remained the major provider of government-funded VET in Australia but experienced a 14.3% decline in student numbers.
  • NSW experienced the greatest decline in student numbers at 15.4%.
  • Queensland was the only jurisdiction to see an increase in both student numbers (7.3%) and subject enrolments by (10.6%).

Overall, this data represents a concern that students are turning away from the VET sector. Further new data for the first quarter of 2016 suggests the decline is continuing.

"Ai Group is concerned about this decrease in participation at the very time when the economy needs more and higher skills," said Ai Group's Head of Workforce Development, Megan Lilly.

"These results may indicate that students are increasingly turning to Higher Education options, given the expansion in the number of places through the demand-driven funding system. There is also the damage done to the reputation of the VET sector by the VET FEE-HELP outrages that have attracted a great deal of media coverage in recent years.

"Regardless of the reasons, this downward trend needs to be reversed," Mrs Lilly said.

The full 2015 report can be found at: https://www.ncver.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0028/58555/Government_funded_students_and_courses_2015.pdf