Higher education should be “a single front door” operated by both TasTAFE and the University of Tasmania.
That’s according to University of Tasmania University College chief executive Lee Whiteley.
The University College has been operating for about 18 months and offers flexible associate degrees in agribusiness, applied business, applied design, applied science and applied technologies.
The associate degrees have been badged as “blended learning” opportunities that are shorter, more flexible, hands-on learning that “bridge the gap between ‘technical/vocational training and a bachelor’s degree.”
“The student must be at the centre of what we do, because we only address the retention and attainment issues we face in Tasmania if we are helping students to land where they need to be and where they are actually going to be successful,” Mr Whiteley said.
“When we think about that education system, we should be looking at Grade 9 and up, perhaps even earlier, so that we can understand what a student’s interests are, what their strengths are, and where they hope to be.
“Then we can act as a single front door to higher education, providing the advice and the options to help the student make their own choices about their future rather than trying to lever them onto a particular track.”
Mr Whiteley said to achieve that goal for higher education, it would be through collaboration, which the university was already doing with TasTAFE.
“Our efforts are focused on the University College operating as part of a Tasmanian education system, rather than one of several competing institutions,” he said.
“TAFE plays in a lot of spaces that we don’t, so if our efforts are about making the state better and getting better economic outcomes for Tasmania, then we’ve got to work together across the institutions. We need a successful TAFE system in this state.”
“There are a number of cases where TAFE qualifications are recognised with credit into Associate Degrees or other university courses and we’d like to see that increased – and in both directions,” he said.
“We’re also exploring opportunities to potentially embed TAFE qualifications in Associate Degrees so that graduating students are armed with truly effective and attractive qualifications.”