VET in Higher Education: A future for regional Australia?

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 34: Higher Education on the Edge

July, 2011, 394 pages
Published by
K. Krause, M. Buckridge, C. Grimmer, & S. Purbrick-Illek
0 908557 85 X

The need to connect Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education (HE) systems is widely acknowledged (e.g. Bradley et al. 2008, AQF 2010, and DIUS 2008). Governance structures supporting cross-sectoral pathways in Australia include co- located dual-sector institutions, degree program offerings in TAFE colleges (HE in VET) and MoU-driven partnerships that guarantee articulation and credit transfer for students from a vocational institution to a University or vice versa. The qualities of each system have been broadly debated (e.g. Beddie & Curtin 2010; Moodie et al. 2009, Wheelahan 2010) and existing structures provide neither seamless nor transparent mobility to students wanting to extend their studies beyond VET. This paper offers a critical perspective on the potential for cross-sectoral models to raise higher education access, participation and achievement levels for young and mature aged people living in regional Australia. Data is presented to demonstrate how collaboratively designed credit arrangements can enhance access and increase retention in education, create meaningful pathways and promote student success and retention. Provision of professional development for teaching staff and academic support for students is also important for successful delivery in regional and low socioeconomic status contexts. The paper presents a cross-sectoral model for the design of courses and pathways between school, VET, HE and employment. The model values the role of VET in HE and promotes joint delivery of Diplomas in regional locations. The author proposes that the model offers a viable approach to the delivery of tertiary education that promotes access to higher education for under-represented groups in non- metropolitan centres.

Keywords: VET in higher education, widening participation, regional education