Saul’s call: close the colleges

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Economist Saul Eslake says colleges such as Launceston College are “not working”.

Tasmania’s Year 11 and 12 colleges are failing the education system and the Tasmanian workforce and should be closed sooner rather than later.

The call comes from respected national economist, Saul Eslake, the author of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 2017 Tasmanian Report.

In the report, to be released on December 11, Mr Eslake recommends closure of what he calls a “failed system”.

The failure was the inability of colleges to attract sufficient Year 10 students from around the state to start and successfully complete Year 12.

The ACT is the only other jurisdiction to introduce the college system and it’s accepted that the ACT has a completely different environment than Tasmania.

The call to close colleges has been exacerbated by new national data which compares results from regional areas across NSW and Victoria with Tasmania – making it a more realistic comparison than the typical state-by-state approach.

The results show that while Tasmania is not doing too badly in some areas, there remains a flashing red light when it comes to education outcomes.

“The data does say we are still falling behind in the percentage of students completing Year 12,” Mr Eslake told the Tasmania Business Reporter.

“We’ve got to get rid of the colleges – they’re just not working.

“When students start in Grade 7 they should be able to finish Year 12 at the same School.”

Mr Eslake said the Education Department was doing a good job with supporting the expansion of more high schools to Years 11 and 12 in country and regional areas.

But, it was now time to develop Year 11 and 12 in city and suburban high schools, Mr Eslake said.

“This is not to say that the Tasmanian colleges don’t do a good job of educating the students they have, but too many Year 10 students don’t progress to the colleges, or stay for the time required to attain their TCE,” he said.

In last year’s Tasmania Report, Mr Eslake highlighted the massive costs of Tasmanian education.

The State government spent just over $13,500 per full-time equivalent student – 17 percent more than the average of all other state and territories.

The return for this expenditure did not result in positive outcomes – Tasmania’s retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 is lower than any other part of Australia, except the Northern Territory.

The findings of a payroll tax project will also create discussion with government and the business community.

While there are no results at this stage, the research is to determine whether payroll could be reduced but expanded to all businesses, not just the current 2000 who exceed more in wage payments.

The Tasmania Report will also include policies which the TCCI and businesses will take to next year’s State election, expected to be in March.

The TCCI Tasmania Report will be released on Monday, December 11 with a breakfast at Wrest Point, a luncheon at Launceston Country Club and dinner at Quality Hotel Gateway, Devonport.

 

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