Analysis of publicly funded load & student numbers by state and provider type
4 July 2014, by Assoc Prof Leesa Wheelahan
Associate Professor Leesa Wheelahan, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and Honorary Senior Fellow, LH Martin Institute.
The analysis in this paper is based on the National Centre for Vocational Education Research’s (2014) Students and Courses. It consists of two tables, both of which have been derived from Table 15 in the Australian and State and Territory tables. The paper shows changes in the number of publicly funded students and changes in the number of full-year training equivalents (or student load) from 2009 – 2013 in each state. It also shows the share of publicly funded student numbers and student load by provider type (TAFE, adult and community education and private providers) in each state.
There is an important difference between student numbers and full-year training equivalents or student load. Student numbers is a count of the number of students who enrol in any one year. It includes students who study part-time and fulltime, and does not differentiate between them.
Full-year training equivalents
Full-year training equivalents is a measure of student funding and teaching hours. It shows the distribution of funding based on the share of publicly funded teaching that each provider type undertakes. If student numbers are higher than student load, that means that more students are being taught less intensively – more students are likely to be studying part-time. If student numbers are lower than student load that means that fewer students are being taught more intensively – more students are likely to be studying full-time or taking higher study loads.
NCVER reports the number of publicly funded and fee-for-service students and student load for TAFE and Adult and Community Education (ACE), but reports only the number of publicly funded students and student load for private providers. It excludes private providers’ fee-for-service provision. This paper analyses publicly funded provision and examines the percentage share of publicly funded students and student load by provider type. It excludes fee-for-service provision in TAFE and ACE from the analysis. Its purpose is to show the distribution of publicly funded students and student load by provider type in each State and Territory and for Australia as a whole.
Table 1: change in the number of students & student load & share of publicly funded student numbers
Table 1 shows:
- The change in the number of publicly funded students by state
- The change in the number of publicly funded full-year training equivalents – or student load by state
- The share of publicly funded students in each state and territory by type of provider
It shows wide variations between the states in changes in student numbers and load. There has been massive growth from 2009 - 2013 in the two states that have implemented demand driven systems – Victoria and South Australia. Other states have either had modest growth (Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland) from 2009 – 2013, or small declines over the same period (New South Wales and the ACT). There were substantial declines in some states in student numbers and load from 2012 – 2013 (New South Wales, Northern Territory and Queensland). Table 1 shows that Victoria’s share of publicly funded students is only 37.4%, contrasted with 72.3% in Western Australia. TAFE is on a trajectory to becoming a minority provider also in South Australia, and Queensland is not far behind. Both states will catch up with Victoria in privatising their VET systems as a consequence of their marketisation policies.
Table 2 shows:
- The percentage share of publicly funded full-year training equivalents (student load) by provider type in each year from 2009 to 2013;
- The percentage change in student load by provider type from 2012 – 2013, and from 2009 -2013.
Table 2 shows that private providers have more than doubled their share of student load or public funding from 2009 to 2013 in Australia. While student load has increased in Australia by 30.8% from 2009 – 2013 (see Table 1), almost all this growth has gone to private providers (see Table 2). TAFE’s growth nationally in student load is 2% over that time, compared to 194.8% for private providers. While ACE has grown its student load by 19.4% over that time, it is from a very small base.
However, it is necessary to examine each state. TAFE’s share of student load has declined most precipitously in Victoria from 77.6% to 45.3% from 2009 – 2013. While Victorian TAFE’s total publicly funded student load has grown by 9.5% from 2009 – 2013, private providers have grown by 621.5%. TAFE experienced a decline in student load in Victoria from 2012 – 2013 which coincides with extensive government cutbacks to their core funding, while private providers remained static. South Australia marketised its system later than Victoria, and the system is still expanding strongly. However, private providers are taking the lion’s share of growth. Private providers have also grown very strongly from 2009 – 2013 in other big systems such as Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. TAFE has experienced substantial declines in student load in Queensland from 2009 - 2013, before full marketisation policies have been introduced. TAFE has also declined in New South Wales over that time, but to a lesser extent. However, New South Wales will be introducing its marketisation policies in 2015.