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Credit granted by universities for TAFE study.
The numbers and types of students transferring from VET to university courses are important features of the articulation between the two sectors. The critical information for understanding the use of TAFE courses as a means for avoiding HECS payments, however, is the extent to which exemptions or credits are granted towards higher education courses for TAFE study. The first panel of Table 3 shows the numbers of students commencing degree courses (or below) in higher education by the extent and source of any exemptions for the period 1993 to2001. It is taken directly from Varieties of learning (Nelson 2002, p. 11). It shows that in2001, 5181 students commencing bachelor degrees (or below) received some exemptions on the basis of their TAFE studies-completed or otherwise. The issues paper observes that:

Over the period 1993 to 2001, growth in the number of students receiving exemptions(85%) far exceeded growth in total commencing students (38%). Growth in numbers receiving exemptions for TAFE studies was 98%.

This result is interpreted in the issues paper as clear evidence that the granting of credit in higher education for TAFE courses has increased substantially in recent years. It is the only evidence presented in the issues paper that bears directly on this phenomenon. Unfortunately, there is strong circumstantial evidence that the data and its interpretation are misleading. The second panel in Table 3 shows the percentage growth to 2001 compared with the current year. These values are derived from the numbers in the first panel but are not shown in the issues paper itself. The issues paper does use the first set of numbers in the second panel to compare the incidence of credit provision in 1993 with the incidence of credit provision in2001. For instance, the preceding quote from the issues paper uses the values 98.0%, 83.4%(wrongly given as 85%) and 38% to show growth in TAFE credit, other credit and commencing students respectively from 1993 to 2001. It is on this basis that it concludes that granting of TAFE credit is growing much faster than the rate of new enrolments.

The issues paper does not show the growth rates for the intervening years-for instance, from1994 to 2002. It is these intervening values that are shown in the second panel in Table 3. Although this is somewhat unusual, since the issues paper used this approach, we follow it through. The values for 1994 in the second panel show that the incidence of initial credit granted on the basis of a completed or partially completed TAFE course grew 34.2% between1994 and 2001 compared with growth in commencing students of 32.0% in the same period.

The values in the second panel of Table 3 from 1994 onwards present a very different picture from the values for 1993. The values for 1994 suggest that granting of credit on the basis of TAFE courses grew at about the same rate as the number of commencing students between1994 and 2001. The 1995 values suggest that granting of credit for TAFE study grew at a lower rate than that of the number of commencing students. If anything, the values for 1996onwards suggest that proportionately fewer commencing students are being granted credit for TAFE study-precisely at the time when HECS payments were increased and the incentive to avoid HECS by enrolment in TAFE became stronger. These results are not consistent with the main contention of the issues paper.

The third and fourth panels in Table 3 display the results in the first and second panels in slightly different ways. The values in the third panel are derived from the second panel directly by subtraction. They show the difference between the growth rates of the various categories of credit from the growth rate for commencing students. Negative values in the first row show that the rate of growth of the granting of credit for TAFE studies to commencing students is less than the rate of growth of commencing students. This was the case from 1995 onwards.

The fourth panel simply percentages the values in the first panel within years. These are perhaps the most orthodox approach to analyzing the values in Table 3. They show, for instance, that in 1994, 2.3% of commencing students received credit for their TAFE studies, while in 2001 it was 2.4%—hardly a major change.

The bottom line of Table 3 uses values from Table 1 to express the number of students receiving credit on the basis of their TAFE course as a percent of students gaining entrance to their course on the basis of a TAFE course. Since there is no necessary connection between entry to university based on a TAFE course and obtaining credit, these results are at best only indicative. Nevertheless, they show that there has been no apparent increase (and possibly some decline from 42.2% in 1993-or possibly better, 42.4% in 1994-to 33.8% in 2001) in the extent to which commencing students who are admitted on the basis of a TAFE course receive credit for that course. This is hardly consistent with the concept of a rapid growth inVET-based exemption in higher education.

A clear break in the behavior of the series presented in Table 3 occurs between 1993 and1994. Such a break prompts a search for an explanation. We know of no change in policy or articulation arrangements between TAFE and university that would explain the quite dramatic increase in the provision of credit for TAFE studies in universities between these two years. The documentation for the
Higher Education Students Collection, however, points to a possible explanation. That documentation notes a change in the coding of the element that records the granting of an initial credit for commencing students. The coding used from 1989 to1993 included a DEETYA code of ‘N’ to note universities that did not supply information on granting of credit. From 1994 onwards, this code disappears. Such a change suggests that the recording of the granting of initial credit improved between 1993 and 1994-that universities that did not supply the information in 1993 were required to supply it in 1994. If this were indeed the case, the 1993 values for granting of TAFE credit would be downwardly biased. This conjecture is consistent with the behavior of the series and suggests that 1993 is an inappropriate basis for comparison with later results.

Src: Academia

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