NSW funds four-year pilot of new tertiary tech education model

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Joseph Brookes

The New South Wales pilot program for a new tertiary institution has been given an allocation of $108.5 million in the upcoming state budget for operations over four years. But its start has been pushed back, after difficulties finding delivery partners and lengthy extensions to a consulting giant’s business case contract for the scheme.

Under the new approach, industry, university and TAFE collaborators will deliver education programs in partnership through an Institute of Applied Technology (IAT), initially with one each for digital technology and construction.

The IAT for Digital Technology will be in the Meadowbank Education Precinct in North-West Sydney and focus on areas like big data, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. It will be delivered as a partnership between Microsoft, UTS and Macquarie University.

These partners were announced six months ago, but none have yet been confirmed for the construction IAT being built in Kingswood in western Sydney.

New South Wales will trial a bold new approach to tertiary education next year.

The NSW government has already committed $225 million for the design and build of the two pilot IATs as part of its response to the Gonski-Shergold review into the state’s vocational education and training sector.

In March last year, the review recommended IATs as a “bold new approach” to tertiary education that is more responsive to changes in student and industry demands, and which would fully integrate the delivery of employability skills, ultimately creating more “job ready” graduates.

The state government accepted the recommendation in March last year, along with the others in the review, including establishing Careers NSW and advocating for VET student loans.

Students who study at the IAT for Digital Technology can gain credentials at all academic levels of study they undertake, including a certificate, a diploma or bachelor’s degree.

When announcing Microsoft, UTS and Macquarie University as delivery partners late last year, the NSW government said the IAT for Digital Technology would be open in August 2022.

This start date has been pushed back to early 2023 and delivery partners for the construction IAT are yet to be announced.

A $308,000 government contract was awarded to consulting giant Deloitte in October for a policy business case to guide the New  South Wales government’s investment decisions in delivering the IATs.

Initially set to run for less than four months, the contract was extended to nearly nine months with $22,000 added.

On Monday, NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the upcoming state budget will invest $108.5 million over four years for the two new TAFE NSW IATs, which will now open in early 2023. He said the money would benefit more than 26,000 students.

“There’s never been a better time to get skilled up and get ahead. These new IATs will strengthen the delivery of education and training, creating a pipeline of job-ready graduates, and set graduates up for the future,” Mr Kean said.

The construction IAT will focus on project management, leadership, and digital construction skills, and be located at Kingswood. A delivery partner has not yet been announced but will be “soon”, according to the government announcement.

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the new IATs will provide a better learning experience for students.

“By partnering with companies like Microsoft and educational institutions like UTS and Macquarie University, we can deliver cutting-edge courses and a pipeline of job-ready graduates,” Mr Henskens said.

“This is the future of skills and training and the NSW Government is leading the nation in investing in this critical infrastructure which will help people get the skills to grow our economy and create a brighter future for our State.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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