Page 3521 - Week 08 - Thursday, 18 August 2011

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MR BARR: Certainly, international student numbers are a challenge for all Australian higher education institutions, but they will not, in and of themselves, be the difference for institutions to survive in a competitive domestic market. It is important to note that one of the other goals that is driving reform across vocational education and training and higher education is a desire to lift the level of qualifications for the Australian people and the Australian workforce.

There are two important changes that I need to bring to the attention of members that Skills Australia have recommended, and I understand they will receive support across the country. The first is to effectively increase the education entitlement from year 12 to a certificate III level and to move to install a HECS-style system for co-payments from students for qualifications above that certificate III level. So the VET FEE-HELP system, a transformation of diploma and advanced diploma level qualifications and their expansion to see a much greater proportion of the Australian population have skills at that level, is what is driving these reforms to both vocational education and training and higher education. So the landscape has changed completely.

Ms Hunter: A point of order.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Barr, one moment. Stop the clocks, thank you.

Ms Hunter: I had asked, if it was a challenge regarding international students, if Mr Barr would join Premier Anna Bligh’s call for the federal government to look at the issue of visas for international students.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Barr, could you touch on the specific question in your remaining time.

MR BARR: Indeed. In beginning my answer I pointed out that international students were only part of the question. In relation to visa classes, this is obviously something that jurisdictions will raise with the commonwealth at the next meeting, which is in two weeks, in Melbourne. And yes, I recognise that some of the changes that the commonwealth have put in place have had a detrimental impact on the number of international students. But I would also acknowledge it.

Corrective Services—governance

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Attorney-General.

Mr Hargreaves: What, not education?

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Doszpot has the—

MR DOSZPOT: I did try and get a question to the education minister, but was not given an opportunity, on three occasions.

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! Thank you. Mr Doszpot, the question.

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