The Federal Government has endorsed a higher education franchising arrangement that will see four TAFE colleges offer degree programs on behalf of the University of Canberra.
The deal will, from next year, allow the University of Canberra to use government funding for degrees taught at four TAFEs: Holmesglen in Victoria, Metropolitan South in Brisbane, and New South Wales' Northern Sydney and South Western Sydney institutes.
The two-tier university system has been designed to soften the impact of the $3 billion in higher education cuts the government announced earlier this year.
The government has dealt with universities with research intensive programs by cutting red tape. This deal gives the teaching heavy institutions "a chance to utilise other resources and infrastructure, to grow their student bodies and establish a new sort of presence," said Brendan Sheehan, director of Inter Mediate, a public policy practice specialising in tertiary education issues.
In the past, university colleges were permitted to be 'teaching only', with requirements to conduct research a later addition to the definition.
Many TAFE colleges and registered training organisations already have partnerships with universities to deliver degree programs and some, such as Holmesglen and Northern Melbourne Institute, already offer a handful of degrees.
The arrangement will not only help universities with funding, but add industry knowledge to an undergraduate's learning pathway to ensure they are 'work ready'.
"We hear from employers and industry that graduates are not sufficiently work-ready," remarked Stephen Parker, vice-chancellor at the University of Canberra. "You can't just keep on expanding the population with bachelor degrees and not make changes."
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