Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 25 November 2014) . . Page.. 3954 ..
While it allows the governing board to set fees, it gives the minister the power to issue guidelines on fee setting for government subsidised services with which the governing board must comply. The explanatory statement and the minister both emphasise that the effect of these amendments is to create a more agile CIT, able to better respond to changing circumstances, including financial circumstances, in the VET and higher education market.
CIT is unique among public TAFE providers in that it is a sole public provider of vocational education in the territory, so it is important that government gets CIT’s governance and financial arrangements in balance. The minister said in her speech:
The ACT community expects a lot from CIT as the premier provider of training services …
The minister commented in her speech:
One of our biggest challenges is raising the profile of vocational education and training and ensuring its benefits are understood right across our community.
I absolutely endorse those comments. I think there is a tendency to attach almost a snob value to a university education and to downplay the important role that vocational training plays in our growing Canberra.
When you scan the diverse range of courses on offer at CIT, the breadth and depth of choice are quite amazing and the delivery choices are also impressive. Students can learn full time, part time, e-learn, study online, on or off campus, and there are also flexible learning options.
CIT has worked hard to ensure it is capturing every opportunity for students to gain qualifications in an area of their interest, and we need to promote that far and wide. That is why we fought hard against the notion of merging CIT with the University of Canberra. CIT has a unique place in Canberra’s education sector and it needs to be supported and encouraged.
These new arrangements will hopefully give it an enhanced sense of place and purpose and allow it to grow and create new markets both regionally and internationally. The international market will be an increasingly lucrative sector, and CIT is well placed to capture an increased market share.
When we come to the legislation itself, the opposition will be supporting this bill today. But we do so with some concerns about some aspects of the new arrangements. The first relates to the appointment of the new board. The minister has advised that there will be nine to 11 members on the new board, that it will include expertise or knowledge of industry or business and knowledge of vocational education and, in addition, members with social policy expertise and governance, human resources or legal expertise. She said that this will ensure that a broad range of skills and knowledge are represented. That has all the hallmarks of a skills-based board, and I think in today’s governance climate that is absolutely critical and essential.