Quality would be slashed with one-year masters
The AEU has denounced the proposal for a one-year Master of Education degree – currently being considered by education ministers – as an attack on the qualifications of the teaching profession that will not fix the teacher shortage. AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace is calling on state education minister Natalie Hutchins to reject moves to cut the current two-year masters qualification. “Fifty years ago, teacher unions in Victoria fought hard to ensure only qualified people were employed as teachers. Education graduates need adequate preparation for the classroom. Students today deserve nothing less,” says Peace.
Student debt helping to entrench inequality
New analysis shows women hold the majority of all student debt, and teachers and nurses carry the biggest repayment burden of any group. Melbourne University’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education showed the average debt for women was around 12% higher than men’s in 2021–22, and most men earn higher incomes when they graduate. While feminised professions were absorbed into the university system, the more male-dominated trades courses have stayed in VET, where they attract government subsidies. Data shows men aged 25–40 with VET qualifications are more likely to earn over $65,000 than women of the same age with a uni degree.
NAPLAN overhaul fails to improve tests
Education ministers have agreed to big changes to NAPLAN after a Productivity Commission report found tens of thousands of students do not meet minimum standards. NAPLAN, now conducted in March instead of May and held entirely online, will include new proficiency standards and simplified scorecards. The AEU maintains that these changes do nothing to address the fact that NAPLAN is an ineffective diagnostic tool, which disregards the learning happening in classrooms, adds to teacher workloads and contributes to student stress and anxiety. The union has long been pushing for teacher-led, formative classroom-based assessments.
Artificial intelligence brings challenges for VET
The VET sector is faced with questions about whether the current system for developing training packages remains fit for purpose in our fast-evolving economy. The process of developing national training packages, introduced in the 1990s to provide national consistency within the TAFE sector, involves significant consultation with industry, sometimes over several years, unlike the weeks-long self-accreditation process of universities. The introduction of ChatGPT and AI technology means industry and workplaces are changing rapidly, and courses may require more regular updating than the current national accreditation system allows.