Fed Uni boss backs higher ed changes

February 23, 2024 BY

Looking forward: Federation University vice-chancellor and president Professor Duncan Bentley said it is time to modernise Australia’s higher education sector. Photo: SUPPLIED


FEDERATION University head Professor Duncan Bentley has welcomed the development of the National Skills Agreement, or NSA, which will bring together TAFE and higher education programs.

The NSA is a five-year agreement between the Commonwealth, state, and territory governments that’s seeking to strengthen vocational education and training, with the aim of meeting Australia’s skill shortages.

“It will succeed because it brings together all the players from unions and employers to providers and governments,” said Professor Bentley.

“It also focuses on the needs of each region and, through vehicles such as free TAFE, adapts to the particular needs of each economic region.”

Meeting localised needs is one the reasons behind Federation University’s establishment of the first wind turbine apprenticeship in the southern hemisphere.

“We are different providers catering to different employer needs in our respective regions,” said Professor Bentley.

He also said the change is long overdue.

“In persevering with a binary post-secondary education system, Australia has also failed to keep up,” Professor Bentley said.

“TAFE is state and higher education is federal. The system tries to stop you doing both.

“Yet most school leavers do not care what level the qualification is, they want what is needed to get their dream job.”

For Professor Bentley, the NSA is a step in the right direction to encouraging more Australians to take up higher education.

“The joint efforts by employers and education providers, with strong union support and government funding, are a vital step to incentivise a joined-up approach to skills and training,” he said.

“It sends a powerful, positive and aspirational message to those at school and those thinking of upskilling to a new career.

“At last, we are seeing the development of an Australian framework to help turbocharge our skills and training capability.”