Page 1095 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015
It is somewhat ironic that the motion is being moved by a member of this ACT Labor government which, only a few short years ago, under the direction and urging of the current Chief Minister, was doing all it could to eliminate CIT from the ACT vocational education landscape and roll it into the University of Canberra. It was only those on this side of the chamber, along with staff, students and the Education Union, which questioned that very process, that highlighted the serious lack of scrutiny and the ultimate senselessness that such a move would create in providing choice in education here in the nation’s capital.
By any measure, CIT was under siege from the government during 2010 and 2011. CIT was “review central”. In May 2010 the then Minister for Education and Training, Minister Andrew Barr, formed the ACT tertiary task force, a large group of people who met for six months to produce one of Mr Barr’s vision papers. “Learning capital: an integrated tertiary education system for the ACT” was intended to set a future direction for delivery of tertiary education in the ACT. It was a comprehensive work and had many laudable sentiments. It included 12 recommendations, one of which was that UC and CIT investigate new ways to collaborate.
But before there could be any work done on any of the recommendations, much less allowing time for the stakeholders across government, education providers, industry and professional groups and the community to start working out how or when they should or could be implemented, there was another review. This time it was the Hawke review. Dr Allan Hawke delivered his assessment of the future for tertiary education, with recommendations to transfer vocational education and training to the Economic Development Directorate and to amalgamate the CIT and the University of Canberra.
But just as the education community and the Canberra Liberals started to seek answers through the estimates hearings process as to what all this might mean for the future of vocational education in the ACT, we learnt, almost by accident, that Minister Barr had initiated yet another review. This was the Learning Capital Council that was to “provide the opportunity for further collaboration on the future of tertiary education”. The council was to commission work that included exploring and reporting to government on the opportunities for formal collaboration between the University of Canberra and the CIT, including amalgamation.
Following this development the ACT government engaged Professor Denise Bradley, chair of the 2008 review of Australian higher education, to provide further but “independent” advice on the future collaborative relationship between CIT and UC. The Bradley review was neither extensive nor considered. Professor Bradley was given just six weeks to deliver her report. I was given a briefing by Professor Bradley and, by her own admission, she did not meet with the task force whose work she was reviewing. Indeed she noted it was a rather large group. She further indicated that had she known that there had been such a report she might not have taken on the commission.
Professor Bradley sat on her own; spoke, by her own admission, to very few people; did not consider and was not provided with any financial analysis; and in six weeks