In October 2016 the Australian Government announced changes to its Vocational Education and Training (VET) Student Loan scheme, including:
- a revised VET student loans eligible course list
- caps on VET student loans—$5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 (based on cost of delivery).
Methods the Government used to develop the new VET Student Loans eligible course list focused on ‘national economic priorities’ and required that courses:
- be on at least two state and territory skills needs lists
- address areas of high economic need, such as STEM or agricultural skills.
As a consequence of this course evaluation method, many diploma-level arts courses were removed from the VET student loans eligible course list.
What is the problem?
Courses at some of Australia's leading professional dance training institutions have been removed from the list of eligible courses that qualify students for a VET Student Loan.
The methods used to identify courses that no longer qualify for government assistance have not:
- consulted existing sector evaluation of the quality and impact of the professional dance courses excluded from the eligible list.
- considered the significant contribution the creative industries make to the Australian economy.
Who does it affect?
- CUA50113 Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance)
- CUA60113 Advanced Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance)
VET student loans support students in vocational education and training at the diploma level and above.
Some students may use VET courses as a gateway to university study.
For students enrolled in a course that is removed from the eligible course list, the government has committed to continuing their VET student loans to finish their studies.
Dance training institutions
Some of Australia’s leading dance training institutions remain excluded from the VET Student Loans Approved Course Providers list, reducing enrolment numbers and limiting the opportunities for these organisations to provide specialised career pathways in ballet and contemporary pre-professional dance training. This limits future contributions to the creative economy in Australia.
Our advocacy focuses on VET dance courses delivered by members of the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia:
- Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (Vet Student Loans have been reinstated for CUA50113 - Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance) and CUA60113 - Advanced Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance).
- TAFE SA Dance program, delivered by the Adelaide College of the Arts.
- Australian Ballet School
These courses have produced generations of high calibre graduates that have/are contributing to the dance profession and the creative industries.
The VET courses offered in these organisations meet industry needs, contribute to addressing skills shortages, and align with strong employment outcomes—all key factors outlined in the proposed methodology for approving courses.
What are we doing about it?
We responded soon after the Australian Government announced their decision in October 2016. Here is our submission about the decision to include some of Australia's leading professional dance training courses in the crackdown on courses eligible for VET student loans.
Responding to the review of the methods used to assess courses eligible for student loans
In February 2017 the Government began a review of the methodology of the VET student loans eligible course list and loan caps.
We submitted a response to the review, restated our concerns, and recommended:
- targeted industry consultation and evaluation of the quality and impact of the professional dance courses excluded from the eligible list. Industry benchmarking between courses is a common and required practice as part of re-accreditation and quality assurance processes; therefore, the sector would have information to contribute to this point.
- reinstatement of Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses in dance on the eligible list or an extension of eligibility to specific recognised training institutions that provide these courses and can prove strong education and industry outcomes.
Working with the National Advocates for Arts Education
Professional dance (and Ausdance) is represented on the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) by Julie Dyson. The NAAE’s major concern with the loss of government assistance for arts courses centred around the methodology used to make decisions about these courses.
The NAAE made eight recommendations in their submission to the review of the VET student loans eligible course list and loan caps methodology.
They noted that because STEM (+ agriculture) had been used to identify those courses which would lead to employment, the cultural sector had been sidelined as one of the major employers in Australia.
Throughout 2017 the NAAE held several meetings with government representatives and departments about this issue.
In February 2018 NAAE members will again meet in Canberra for discussions with senior education advisors, ministerial staff, and senior staff in the Department of Communications and the Arts.
The Department of Education and Training will update information on its website once providers have been approved to deliver VET Student Loans. Students can check the department’s website at VET Student Loans and refer to the Course and Caps Determination which provides a list of all eligible VET Student Loans courses.